Mark Francis (2)
Royal Wootton Bassett Town gave runaway leaders Westfields a scare, falling to a narrow 3-2 defeat in a closely fought contest in Herefordshire.
A trip to Westfields was always going to be a daunting prospect for Royal Wootton Bassett Town. But while the result - a defeat - was arguably as expected, Sam Collier's side, beaten by the odd goal in five, can hold their heads high after pushing the still undefeated Hellenic League Premier Division leaders all the way.
The outcome was a massive improvement on the 6-1 thrashing suffered at home and demonstrates the progress that has been made over the past month by a rejuvenated squad infused with youth.
Early on it appeared that a repeat of the fixture in Wiltshire was on the cards, Westfields taking an early lead when Ben Miller pounced on the loose ball after Bassett failed to clear from a corner and swept home.
But the visitors were soon on level terms. Alfie Presley's superb through ball split the Westfields defence and, latching onto the pass, Mark Francis produced a fine finish to equalise.
Westfields' lead was restored just before the half hour mark though. A free kick was swung into the box and Kane Kahaki rose highest to head towards goal. Matt Bulman kept his effort out but Cameron Peters was on hand to steer in the rebound.
Despite falling behind again, Bassett's heads didn't drop. And they responded positively, almost equalising when Dan Warre rounded 'keeper Joe Gorman only to see Ryan Green produce an outstanding goalline clearance to deny the youngster his second in as many games.
Gorman would be replaced midway through the second half as he injured his foot when attempting to clear. Kahaki took over between the sticks, but Bassett were unable to take advantage of their hosts being forced to play with an outfield player in goal.
Instead Westfields extended their advantage. Shortly after Bulman did well to deny Daniel Stoneman, Bassett lost possession in the home side's territory and were duly punished, Aidan Thomas eventually drilling home.
There was still action to come and questions were asked of Westfields when Francis grabbed a second with a deflected effort with minutes to spare.
But for all Bassett's efforts to salvage a point, Westfields saw out the remaining time to move another step closer towards what increasingly appears to be their title.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Sunday 5th January 2020 at 15:33
Mark Francis (2)