Rare is it that a player scores either direct from a corner or, even more so, from inside their own half. But Malmesbury Victoria's Jack Hobson-McVeigh achieved both of those feats in the same game as his side triumphed 3-1 against Royal Wootton Bassett Town in the Bluefin Sports Hellenic League Challenge Cup.
The Vics' midfielder's brace dealt a blow to Bassett's hopes of all but guaranteeing a place in the competition's knockout stages.
And their progress now hinges on the outcome of their final group encounter at home against Stonehouse Town, who – with a stroke of luck courtesy of a late Brimscombe and Thrupp equaliser in their game on Tuesday – sit a point below Sam Collier's side in Group Two.
If Bassett are to advance, however, they will need to produce a much better performance than the one they did against Malmesbury. Bassett were second best against a side they had thumped 5-1 in the reverse fixture just ten day ago.
Like in that encounter, Malmesbury took an early lead through Sam Parker, the forward producing a crisp finish into the bottom left corner after a long throw had bounced around the box.
Yet falling behind would not act as the motivation Bassett needed to get into gear.
They found themselves 2-0 down on the half hour mark when Hobson-McVeigh whipped in an inswinging corner that eluded everyone in the box and wound up in the back of the net.
Shortly afterwards, the hosts did get back into the game when TJ Bohane netted. Sam Ockwell played a ball into the feet of the forward on the edge of the area, and a neat one-two with Rhys Wells opened up space for Bohane to drag a right-foot effort into the bottom left corner.
However, Kai Robinson's red card almost immediately after for a reckless, thoughtless stamp ensured his side's task of getting back on terms would be even tougher.
And it was Malmesbury who struck early after the restart to restore their two-goal advantage, which would ultimately prove unassailable.
Another freakish, albeit spectacular goal from Hobson-McVeigh delivered their third. After making an interception from an underhit pass, the midfielder, seemingly having earlier spotted Harrison Ellis' typical high starting position, recovered his footing and quickly swung his right boot through the ball.
Reminiscent of David Beckham beating Neil Sullivan from that distance, his shot had enough pace on it to have the 'keeper beaten, and the ball flew into the top corner.
A small glimmer of hope arrived for Bassett when Parker was dismissed for a late lunge and confrontation with Ellis.
But Malmesbury remained the most dangerous side as they deservedly recorded their first win of the group stage.
For Bassett, it was a second disappointing result in a row after they had made such a solid start by recording seven points from their opening three matches.
Courtesy of Brimscombe's late equaliser though, a draw from their home contest against Stonehouse will be enough for Bassett to sneak into the last sixteen.
But Stonehouse have proven tough customers throughout their five games so far, their only defeat being away at Brimscombe. It's therefore set to be a nerve-wracking ending to the group stages.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Wednesday 28th April 2021 at 13:23