Self-inflicted wounds hurt Bassett again
Saturday 30 December 2017 - by Stuart Smedley (Updated on 30 December 2017 at 20:00)
Ten man Royal Wootton Bassett Town slipped to a third successive league defeat as they were beaten 3-1 at Binfield.
Hill Farm Lane, 30th December 2017
It's getting hard to keep up with the number of times Royal Wootton Bassett Town have been the instigators of their own downfall this season.
While they have suffered a number of heavy defeats, there have been a series of tight games lost due to ill-discipline (away at Highworth Town in the league, and at Horndean in the Vase), costly defensive errors (the recent pair of home losses against Highworth and Highmoor Ibis spring to mind as well as the FA Cup defeat against Crawley Green) or late lapses (as seen in the 4-3 reverse against Tuffley Rovers).
And that has resulted in vital points dropped in the league and frustrating exits in both national cup competitions.
After a 3-1 loss away at Binfield, another entry can now be added to that list.
This time it was a combination of over-indulgence at the back and an outpouring of frustration early in the second period that condemned Bassett to defeat. The former resulted in a pair of early goals for the hosts, and the latter then led to a second yellow card for Jonny Aitkenhead at a time when it was the last thing his side needed.
Though they fought back admirably with ten men, Lewis Waldon eventually pulling back a goal that allowed Bassett to briefly flirt with the idea they could salvage a point, their effort all seemed rather futile. After all, they had already suffered a trio of self-inflicted wounds.
They had started the game brightly too, Waldon and Ben Lodge probing at a Binfield defence who had shipped seven goals the last time the teams met.
But on ten minutes Bassett fell behind in avoidable fashion.
The hosts' high press forced an awkward backpass to Dan Lawrence, with the 'keeper's rushed clearance only making it as far as Josh Howell. The left winger cut inside and crashed a stunning 25-yard drive off the crossbar. The danger wasn't cleared though, and Howell was able to recycle the ball to Alex Colverd, who made no mistake from twelve yards out.
Binfield's lead was quickly doubled. Having not taken heed of the dangers of overplaying at the back moments earlier, Steve Yeardley tried forcing a pass deep inside his own half to a blanketed Matt Cheetham, who had little chance of securing possession. The home side duly pounced, the ball being worked within seconds into the feet of forward Ian Davies, who turned and struck a fine effort into the top left corner from twenty yards.
Having appeared evenly matched in the opening exchanges, Binfield were now fully in control and seeking to twist the screw on Bassett even further. They were unfortunate not to extend their advantage too, Carlo Santoro steering past the post before Davies blasted wide when all too casual defending from Yeardley allowed him to race on to Owen Powell's through pass and have a free run at Lawrence.
Bassett were soon able to settle, and twice came close to reducing arrears prior to the interval. A ball into the right corner stretched the Binfield defence and Waldon crossed for an unmarked Kai Robinson whose header was saved well by Henry Craven.
The Moles' 'keeper, who endured a tough evening in the previous meeting, then pulled off a fine stop to glove Gio Wrona's curling free kick clear of the bottom left corner. At full stretch, he was unable to turn it around the post, allowing Aitkenhead to cut a pass back from the byline into the heart of the six-yard box, which was deflected narrowly over.
Early in the second period, Bassett survived a scare when Howell's towering cross caused panic and Harry Laflin steered over on the turn.
But their foothold in the game weakened significantly after 55 minutes as Aitkenhead received a second caution for dissent, his first having come just before half time when he was harshly booked for kicking the ball away when playing it to Lawrence after a corner had been incorrectly given.
The yellow resulting in the defender's dismissal came as he argued an opponent should have been cautioned for committing a similar offence.
But Bassett would have been better served in keeping their protests to themselves. Referee Ireneos Christodoulou certainly did himself no favours throughout the course of the game thanks to his inconsistency. Yet both teams were on the receiving end of some baffling decisions. And now the visitors were forced to chase the game from a numerical disadvantage.
As has been the case earlier in the season, Bassett's performance picked up as they battled on with less than a full contingent. Binfield legs began to tire too, which brought Waldon into the game more.
From an intricate one-two with Harvey Scholes, he angled a shot narrowly wide on the hour before a blocked effort of his fell to Wrona, who guided the ball narrowly wide from a promising position.
In a wide-open game, it was Bassett who were creating the better chances, a string of Binfield counters being snuffed out by Yeardley and the imperious Cheetham as they operated more or less as a back two.
With twenty minutes remaining, Dale Richards' ball into the left corner set Waldon free, but rather than squaring for Sam Collier or Scholes, he went for goal from an angle, his blasted strike going out for a throw in. Richards then forced a save out of Craven after latching onto a Robinson through pass.
Those squandered opportunities were almost punished, but Lawrence produced an assured save to deny Colverd his second when Santoro had set things up on a plate for the forward.
With five minutes remaining, Bassett did pull a goal back. Tony Joyce played an outstanding cross to the far post, which Richards headed back across goal. After Wrona had taken a touch, Waldon snuck in to lash home from close range.
But any hopes of completing an unlikely comeback were quashed when Binfield broke free and Luke Hayden kept his cool when one-on-one with Lawrence.
The earlier damage was ultimately too much for Bassett to overcome.
Man of the Match: Tony Joyce – another solid outing from the veteran campaigner, who has slotted in seamlessly at full back. His towering cross to the far post created Bassett's goal, while he linked up well with midfield and attack, going on a few dangerous forays forward himself.