Room for improvement despite late comeback
Saturday 03 August 2019 - by Stuart Smedley (Updated on 03 August 2019 at 19:57)
Two goals in the final ten minutes saw Royal Wootton Bassett Town come back from 3-1 down to earn an opening day point away against Holmer Green.
Watchet Lane, 3rd August 2019
Royal Wootton Bassett Town may have recovered from a 3-1 deficit to claim a point against Holmer Green with a pair of goals in the final ten minutes.
But while Sam Collier and his team may be satisfied with the point they earned against a side who are typically strong at home, they will know that there is plenty that can be improved upon following a disappointing opening day display.
After Callum Parsons had put Bassett ahead from the spot, avoidable errors helped put Holmer Green in a commanding position after an hour of play.
And though Bassett dominated possession in the second half as the hosts flagged, their play in the final third was over elaborate, especially on a bobbly, dry pitch.
Neat, intricate short passing may be effective at the Gerard Buxton Sports Ground and on the league's other better surfaces, but Bassett need to learnt to adapt their style to suit the conditions.
Holmer Green did have the ball in the net first, but Ben Booker's header was ruled out for a push.
A minute later, offside should have been given when Tom Cole's ball forward picked out Parsons, who was stood a good few yards beyond the last home defender. But, to everyone's surprise, no flag was forthcoming and Parsons was brought down by 'keeper Phill Pykett after attempting to round him. After dusting himself down, Parsons coolly slotted the resulting penalty into the bottom left corner.
Chances then fell for Brad Pagliaroli and Mani Roper to double that advantage, but the former saw his snap shot on the turn repelled by a smart save from Pykett before the latter shot straight at the 'keeper when played through in the left channel by Rhys Talmash's pass.
Holmer Green were soon on level terms though as one ball out from the back caught out the Bassett defence. That opened up room for the hosts and, after latching onto Ollie Lynch's backheel on the edge of the box, Alex Rice was scythed down in the box by Tinashe Gwavava. Lynch stepped up to take the penalty, sending Declan Lehmann the wrong way.
The game was by this point rather even, but the home side would go into the break ahead.
Talmash had spurned a chance at the other end to put Bassett back ahead, seeing Pykett save his low drive with his feet.
But sloppy play at the other end saw them present Holmer Green with a set piece that led to the second as captain Gio Wrona, playing at left back, was caught dwelling on the ball and confounded things by committing a foul. Martin Lancaster whipped in a free kick from the right wing and an unmarked Ryan Parsons made no mistake, heading in from twelve yards.
Their lead was then doubled ten minutes after the restart, catching Bassett out down their right side. The ball was worked into Harrison Holbrook in the left side of the box and he played a cute pass to an overlapping Rice, who poked home at the near post from an angle.
That goal forced Collier into action as the Bassett boss made a double substitution, introducing Danny Langford up front and Harrison Lea into the heart of a midfield. And both players made a difference, injecting life into a performance that had gone flat.
Bassett began to exert dominance too as Holmer Green, who had been forced into making a pair of changes during the opening period, tired on an energy-sapping, humid afternoon.
But the visitors initially failed to make the most of the possession they were enjoying. Defender Tyron Leigh failed to connect properly with a Wrona free kick when unmarked, flicking his header wide, while Parsons shot straight at Pykett from close range.
They then had the woodwork to thank that they didn't fall further behind as Adam Riley's curling effort from the edge of the area clipped the crossbar.
Eventually though, with ten minutes remaining, Bassett snatched a lifeline as Parsons rather scruffily swept in from a Wrona cut back.
Pagliaroli then fired into the side netting before finding his range to grab the equaliser in the final minute. He initially played a low ball into the danger area from the right side, which bounced around the box before falling into the feet of Parsons. He played a return pass to Pagliaroli, who drove towards the byline and squeezed a sidefoot effort into the opposite bottom corner from an acute angle.
Having got back on terms, Bassett did almost throw the game away as they switched off at the back allowing Holmer Green in. A square ball was played to a wide-open Holbrook just yards from goal. But a fabulous save from Lehmann, diving back to claw the ball away prevented what would have been a certain goal.
Man of the Match: Danny Langford – the forward caused a huge amount of difficulties for the home defence in the half hour he was on the pitch, offering a directness and willingness to run at defenders that had previously been lacking.