Mark Francis, Anaclet Odhiambo, Daniel Warre
Second half goals from Mark Francis, Anaclet Odhiambo and Dan Warre saw Royal Wootton Bassett Town seal a fifth straight home win with a 3-0 triumph against Bishops Cleeve.
A trio of excellent second half goals and a resolute defensive display saw Royal Wootton Bassett Town end their two-game losing streak as they recorded a convincing 3-0 victory at home against Bishops Cleeve.
In contrast to last week's losing effort away against Lydney Town, Bassett made the better of the difficult conditions at the Gerard Buxton Sports Ground than their opponents. With the early stages of Storm Ciara brewing, a stiff breeze was present throughout the match.
But, with the wind behind them in the opening period, the visitors failed to take advantage, creating just one chance of note from open play despite putting the hosts under significant pressure.
The second half then belonged to Bassett. Cleeve defended anxiously throughout. And after an error presented Mark Francis with the chance to score a well-taken opener, Bassett slowly but surely twisted the knife, with Anaclet Odhiambo and Dan Warre ensuring an emphatic final score line.
Such an outcome would not necessarily have been expected at half time with the score still deadlocked.
The visitors had appeared the better of the two teams. However, that was aided by the advantages offered by the conditions. Further, despite enjoying much of the play they only posed any real danger from set pieces.
Leun Crowe headed a Luke Payne free kick into the side netting on nineteen minutes before Bassett should have been ahead when Carl Evans contrived to miss from close range after a mishit Alfie Presley free kick found the centre half unmarked at the near post.
Bishops Cleeve then had their lone opportunity from open play but debutant 'keeper Eddie Cavanagh was equal to Lucas Price's well struck shot on the turn.
Two further chances came their way from set plays before the break, Lee Llewelyn whipping a left wing free kick across the face of goal and narrowly wide before Richard Thwaite headed just outside the far post from a towering Adam Mace free kick delivery.
The game therefore entered the interval knotted up at 0-0.
Much credit should be given to the Bassett defence that this was the case. Rather than play through the middle, Cleeve sought to utilise the dangerous Lucas Price and Stephen Davies out on the wing. But they were contained by impressive young full backs George Ford and Alfie Presley, while sharpshooting forward Jack Watts and his strike partner Leun Crowe were kept under wraps by centre halves Jon Beeden and Carl Evans.
Bassett's solidity at the back stood in stark contrast to that shown by Cleeve following the restart.
The hosts almost found the opener ten minutes into the period when Ford clipped a fine through ball for Rhys Talmash in the right channel, but Francis could on scuff his effort from the wide man's cut back.
Two minutes later though he found the net. A slice of fortune finally fell Bassett's way in the build-up as Thwaite and 'keeper Matuesz Wieczorek misjudged a long ball forward. After the ball bounced off the head of the former, it fell to Francis who steered a finely judged left-foot lob over the stranded Wieczorek and into the net from the best part of 25-yards.
A pair of good saves from Wieczorek then kept his side in the game. The first was simply stunning as at full stretch he tipped a curling Francis strike, which had taken a deflection, onto the crossbar. His second save from Francis, this time from a header following a Ford cross, was more routine but still forced him to stoop low on the dive.
There was little he could to deny Odhiambo though with twelve minutes remaining. Another pass over the top caught out the Cleeve defence, and Odhiambo raced onto the loose ball before delicately lifting a shot over an onrushing Wieczorek and into the roof of the net.
The veteran's goal seemed to settle any potential jitters Bassett were experiencing as they were now able to play with the comfort of a two-goal lead.
And that was extended further – in stunning style – with eight minutes to go. Patient build-up involving Francis, Harrison Lea and Kai Robinson eventually created space in the middle for Warre and the youngster produced a sublime long-range effort that a despairing Wieczorek could do little about as his shot sailed into the top left corner.
With the win in the bag and a clean sheet to boot, it was shaping up to be a perfect day for Bassett. There would be one dampener though as Talmash, playing his first game for Bassett since September, received a needless red card for his aggressive retaliation to a foul by Harry Burns.
But that aside it was a hugely impressive afternoon for Bassett, who after not winning a home league game until November have now recorded five on the bounce.
Man of the Match: Jon Beeden – led the defensive line impressively at centre half, ensuring that Hellenic League Premier Division top scorer Jack Watts had a very quiet afternoon.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Sunday 9th February 2020 at 13:03
Mark Francis, Anaclet Odhiambo, Daniel Warre