Fast start and fortunate finish deliver another triumph
Saturday 17 November 2018 - by Stuart Smedley (Updated on 17 November 2018 at 22:00)
Danny Lachacz' first minute goal proved vital for Royal Wootton Bassett Town as they survived a late onslaught from Ardley United to prevail 2-1 in their Hellenic League Premier Division encounter.
Gerard Buxton Sports Ground, 17th November 2018
Royal Wootton Bassett Town made it consecutive victories as a flying start and late fortune in the face of a ferocious Ardley United onslaught combined to help seal a 2-1 victory for Sam Collier's side.
Danny Lachacz' first minute header gave the hosts the earliest of advantages, and that lead was later extended in the second period courtesy of a well-worked TJ Bohane goal.
But Ardley would go on to halve their deficit with five minutes remaining through Daniel West before unleashing a torrent of pressure on the Bassett goal as the woodwork, goalline blocks and some fantastic saves from Charlie McCready ensured they were unable to find an equaliser.
While certainly not pretty, it was gutsy display from Collier's team that saw them over the line. Throughout the game their visitors saw most of the ball. However, Bassett were disciplined enough to limit the opportunities Ardley were able to create for the vast majority of the contest.
It certainly helped that the Oxfordshire side, though neat and pretty, arguably played far too much football. Yet, they lacked the clinical edge that Bassett possessed when presented with chances that could have changed the game.
That was evident from the off as Bassett took full advantage of Jamie Mundy's needless trip on Brad Pagliaroli in the right corner after less than a minute had elapsed. Pagliarolli whipped the resulting set piece into the box and, by aid of a deflection, the ball looped perfectly into the path of midfielder Lachacz, who guided his header beyond Christian Lawrence from ten yards out.
Bassett could not have dreamt of a better start. But, even while going in front so early, it did not afford them the ability to settle comfortably into the game. That was because Ardley set out their stall to dominate possession and pin Bassett deep. Though for all the play that they had they were unable to really test their hosts in the opening exchanges.
Instead, Bassett found a degree of success when hitting Ardley on the break, with counter attacks leading to chances for both Mani Roper and Bohane that forced Lawrence to turn the ball around the post on the stretch.
Ardley's first opportunity of note came on the half hour mark when a short corner routine caught Bassett out. Their star man, the diminutive Conor Harris then proceeded to get to the byline where he cut a pass back into the path of Tobias London in the six-yard box. However, a combination of pressure from Collier and a poor touch meant the forward was unable to steer in.
The opening period then petered out with only a couple of half chances for either team, the best falling to Bassett when Bohane saw a header from a Tony Joyce cross sail wide after catching a deflection.
Play was very much the same following the restart: Ardley stroking the ball around but failing to penetrate the Bassett defence.
The game began to liven up with twenty-five minutes remaning though when McCready was first called into action. But he did well to block Tom Griffiths' snap shot after a Harris free kick was not properly cleared.
Two minutes later, Bassett's lead was doubled. Ardley were this time guilty of failing to fully avert danger, allowing Gio Wrona to steal possession deep inside the visitors' territory. He quickly played a pass into the feet of Bohane, who proceeded to play a delightful one-two with Matt Bennett on the edge of the area to open up the defence. And there was only going to be one outcome when Bohane was presented with a one-on-one as he confidently swept beyond Lawrence.
Now two goals behind, Ardley belatedly kicked into gear as they abandoned some of their principles and finally sought to throw balls into the Bassett box. Fierce drives from substitutes Deon Gallagher and Tom Moore flew narrowly off target while Troy Bryan hooked a ball across the face of goal that needed only a touch to divert it in.
The visitors were then given a reprieve though when a Pagliaroli cut back was played just behind Wrona, who was in a perfect position to score.
Minutes later, an acrobatic Bryan effort looped onto the crossbar. But, finally, Ardley got their goal when centre half West – now playing as an emergency centre forward – guided Mikey McKirnan's deep cross into the opposite corner.
That set up a frenzied, grandstand finish which tested Bassett's nerves to breaking point. West was denied another headed goal by Collier's goalline block before a Harris free kick caused a scramble around the goalmouth in which McCready pulled off a fine double save.
Then, deep into injury time, Troy Bryan raced onto a long ball out from the back that had sailed in behind the Bassett defence and lifted a delicate effort over the onrushing McCready. The 'keeper was beaten but, much to Bassett's fortune, the post came to the rescue with a covering Joyce able to head behind to avert further danger.
It was a heart-in-mouth moment, but soon Bassett could breathe a sigh of relief.
The points in the bag, Bassett climb a place to third in the Hellenic League Premier Division, a position they can further consolidate when they face chasers Bishop's Cleeve on Tuesday.
Man of the Match: Dan Cole – the defender picked up his October Player of the Month award before the game, and he showed why he shared that accolade with TJ Bohane by producing an assured, solid performance at left back.