Bassett outlast Levens to make it two on the bounce
Wednesday 03 April 2019 - by Stuart Smedley (Updated on 04 April 2019 at 08:59)
Royal Wootton Bassett Town recorded a 2-1 victory away against relegation battling Longlevens in their penultimate Hellenic League Premier Division fixture of the season.
Saw Mills End, 3rd April 2019
Royal Wootton Bassett Town set up the chance to finish their Hellenic League Premier Division campaign with a hat-trick of victories after they saw off Longlevens 2-1 in their penultimate game of the season.
Goals either side of half time from Gio Wrona and Elias Youssef did the damage as Sam Collier's side recorded a deserved triumph against a team they will meet again in three days' time in a quirk of fixture scheduling.
It was a fine result too as, despite their lowly league position, Longlevens have been in good form recently, finding this at seemingly the right time as they seek to battle against the drop.
But Bassett ensured they were second best on this occasion, a dubious second half penalty from Shaun O'Connor not being enough for them to take anything from the game.
The visitors got off to a fast start and had a string of early chances.
After just six minutes Longlevens 'keeper Kane Winman was forced to claw over the bar after a Wrona free kick took a deflection on its route towards goal. Mark James then nearly scored from the resulting corner but his powerful header was cleared off the line by Jonty Welch.
A dipping Wrona volley flew narrowly over on sixteen minutes before he teed up Brad Pagliaroli, who went close. Pagliaroli, scorer of two in the win over Holmer Green on Saturday, followed that up by shaving the bar with a powerful strike.
Finally, on 22 minutes, Bassett got the goal that their early pressure deserved. And it came through the lively Wrona. Linking up well with Pagliaroli, his shot from the edge of the area caught a deflection and found its way past Winman.
Longlevens' best opportunity of the opening period came on the half hour mark when Welch saw a snatched effort almost squirm past Gary Aulsberry. But aside from that the hosts appeared largely toothless.
Their task then got harder two minutes after the restart when Youssef took advantage of a poor clearance from Winman and made no mistake.
With Bassett seemingly in control though, Longlevens got a lifeline ten minutes later when awarded a soft penalty. O'Connor was in no mood to pass that opportunity up either, and he confidently drove the spot kick down the middle.
That set up an exciting finish, with Longlevens forced to throw men forward to try and salvage at least a point.
And on 72 minutes Brad Martin was a whisker away from equalising with a stunning volley from the edge of the area
At the other end, Bassett almost grabbed a third as Ollie Long nearly diverted a Gio Wrona corner into his own net, while Carl Evans headed straight at Winman from the ensuing set piece delivery.
There was still time for some late drama. But unfortunately for Longlevens it resulted in them being reduced to ten men as Luke Kavanagh was dismissed for dissent after his colourful response to receiving a yellow card. Manager Craig Martin joined him in taking an early bath as he was ordered from his dugout.
The teams now go again on Saturday.
For Bassett, it's a chance to make it three wins on the bounce and move past the fifty point mark that they last recorded in 2014-15. And victory will match the record number of points - 52 in 2000-01 - they have recorded in a Hellenic Premier Division campaign.
Meanwhile, for Longlevens it's the first of a crucial final five games as they aim to escape the potential relegation zone.
Plenty to play for then. It therefore should not be a dull end-of-season encounter.