Tense top of the table clash ends all square
Sunday 03 March 2019 - by Stuart Smedley (Updated on 03 March 2019 at 19:01)
Royal Wootton Bassett Town Ladies remain eight points clear at the top of South West Women's Football League Eastern Division as their visit to second place Frampton Rangers ended all square.
A tense encounter, with both sides rising to the occasion and battling for victory (as well as the blustery conditions), the 1-1 draw proved to be an exciting top of the table clash.
There was much on the line for the teams too. A win for Bassett would mean they would have required two more wins to seal the title (which they missed out on by virtue of goal difference last season). Meanwhile, three points for Frampton would have brought them within five points of Bassett with two games in hand, meaning they would have their destiny in their own hands.
As it turned out, the situation remains unchanged from that before kick off. Bassett still hold the advantage given Frampton will be two points behind should they win their games in hand. But there remains little room for error for Jonny House and James Goddard's team, with Rangers not having dropped a point since their narrow reverse against Bassett in their initial meeting in December.
Away from home, Bassett enjoyed the better start. Hayley Huckin had the first real chance of the game. The ball fell into her feet after an Emma Sykes shot got caught in the wind and turned into a cross, but Bassett's leading scorer was unable to get enough power on her shot to trouble the 'keeper.
Soon, the visitors were in front. Following excellent pressure, Emily Arrell beat her defender before whipping in a lovely cross that was turned into the net by a Frampton defender.
Having fallen behind, the hosts picked up the game and thought they were level when Abi Todd followed up to sweep in after Abi Footner was unable to hold onto a free kick. But, fortunately for Bassett, an offside flag chalked the equaliser off.
Then, just before the break, Bassett fashioned another opening as Lauren Kayll delivered a cross that was just out of the reach of Huckin, who was waiting to pounce.
Frampton eventually equalised around the hour mark. Todd took advantage of a defensive slip and she square for Maddy Brown, who found the bottom corner with a cool finish.
This then ushered in a period of Frampton pressure that saw them come close to taking the lead on a couple of occasions. A free kick was fired narrowly over before Laura Jefferies headed a Stacey Hyde shot onto the bar.
As the clock wound down, both sides continued to push for what could have proved to be a decisive, consequential third goal.
In what was a frantic end to the game, the best chances fell to Arrell, who twice narrowly missed the target when through one-on-one, the first of those opportunities coming after a fine through pass from Kayll.
Bassett will feel unfortunate for not having snatched the three points. But, having avoided defeat in a crunch encounter, they took another step towards the title.
Their run-in is set to be a tough one. But, with four games to go, Bassett know they don't need to rely on results elsewhere if they are to claim the crown.
It's set to be another exciting finish to what has been an enthralling title chase.