Collier stunner brings slumps to an end
Saturday 24 March 2018 - by Stuart Smedley (Updated on 25 March 2018 at 14:44)
A Sam Collier stunner on the stroke of half time delivered Royal Wootton Bassett Town their first league win in over three months as his team defeated Ascot United 1-0.
Gerard Buxton Sports Ground, 24th March 2018
For three long months Royal Wootton Bassett Town had failed to register a league win. And with the season winding down, fears were mounting that they would go into the summer not having tasted victory this calendar year.
Their miserable spell encompassed eleven games in which Bassett yielded just two points and scored on just six occasions, while suffering thumpings at the hands of sides from both ends of the table.
Now though, finally, that run is over.
Interim manager Sam Collier's stunning strike on the stroke of half time proved enough to secure a win by the narrowest of margins over Ascot United – the team they had last defeated by the same score in mid-December.
It was a deserved triumph too, as Bassett were resolute in defence and attacked with intent and intelligence.
Given the slump they had fallen into, any kind of victory – merited or not - would have sufficed. But Collier and his team can be hugely satisfied with the way in which they returned to winning ways.
The visiting Yellamen enjoyed the majority of possession and played some attractive football. However, their attacking threat was blunted by a disciplined Bassett backline.
Indeed, Ascot failed to register a shot on goal in the opening period, and it wasn't until midway through the second half – when the game had started to open up – that they managed to test home 'keeper Ian Gill.
Bassett, meanwhile, played a patient game, effectively utilising centre forward Dave Coleman's ability to hold up the ball and his strike partner Dale Richards' pace.
They also made the most of set pieces and almost took the lead from one on 24 minutes when Richards' near post header from a Gio Wrona corner was awkwardly kept out by Lee Allen.
Coleman then brought the best out of Allen after a give-and-go with Richie Saunders on the edge of the area set the forward free to shoot from a tight angle.
There was little the 'keeper could do to keep out Bassett's next attack though.
With half time looming, Callum Wright lofted forward a deep free kick, which Saunders rose to redirect across the box. The ball fell perfectly for Collier, who, firing on the turn, hooked a fierce, dipping volley into the top corner.
It was the perfect way to end the first half and, ultimately, would prove to be the winner.
Yet there was still plenty of action to come as both teams battled positively following the restart.
Ascot were fortunate not to be reduced to ten men in the 52nd minute when Coleman outmuscled Jonny Denton to get to a ball played in behind the defence before being hauled down by Allen who had rushed from his goal. He only received a yellow though.
The resulting free kick almost led to Bassett's second too. Catching the Ascot defence napping, Wright played a short pass to an unmarked Wrona on his left. However, the ball took a bobble as the midfielder shaped to shoot from close range and the visitors conceded only a corner, from which Saunders saw a far post header blocked on the line.
On the hour the impressive George Lance floated a cross from the left to an open Saunders at the far post, but the veteran midfielder sent his controlled volley narrowly over.
Six minutes later Ascot finally had a shot in anger, but Samir Regragui was only able to find the side netting after a misplaced pass was seized upon and counter initiated.
With both midfields stretched, opportunities arose at both ends. And Regragui was again close when he skipped past two attempted tackles on the edge of the box before seeing his shot from twelve yards parried away at his feet by Gill. Substitute James Goodey then hoisted over from just outside the area.
Gill's fine save was soon answered by opposite number Allen, who did brilliantly to tip wide from Wright's fizzing drive following a well worked move that culminated in Josh Coombe knocking down a Tony Joyce cross for the midfielder to shoot from the edge of the box.
As time wound down, Ascot's attempts to restore parity became increasingly frantic, with a few fractious moments thrown in as Bassett sought to milk the clock.
Yet, they would be unsuccessful thanks to Bassett's dogged and disciplined response to the increased pressure.
A trip from Collier presented the visitors with a free kick just twenty yards out, but Regragui was unable to take advantage as he steered over.
Goodey then fired over after cutting inside from the right before the game's final chance saw a fine reaction save at his near post by Gill to turn Phil da Silva's snap shot away following George Lock's inside pass.
Man of the Match: Harrison Gough – the youngster was composed and impressive at centre half and a key reason his side kept a clean sheet. The only blot on his copybook was a yellow card, but even then he showed smarts, taking one for the team to prevent an attack where Ascot outnumbered Bassett.