Roger Webb, Bryan Wood
A second-half hat-trick from visiting star striker Kevin Howell was the difference as a competitive Royal Wootton Bassett Town Over 50 side were finally overcome by Hazlemere Sports, who returned to the top of the league for 24 hours. The 5-2 score line does not tell the whole story though, as Bassett were in the ascendency for large parts of the game against a side who had hammered them 10-1 on opening day.
Right from kick-off you sensed this time it would be different, as Bassett harried their surprised opponents, and played some neat possession football, while Hazlemere looked a shadow of the dominant team they had been in the first meeting.
Bassett capitalized on their strong start by opening the scoring following a free-flowing move. Steve Fisher brought down a high ball and sent it wide right to Kenny Campbell who played it in to Rob Mitchell in the box. He looked up, and unselfishly squared it to Bryan Wood at the far post who confidently stroked home from close range.
Bassett continued to take the game to Hazlemere whenever possible, but stung by the early set back, the visitors did start to exert some pressure on the Bassett goal, and eventually got their reward on the half-hour mark. Bassett defender Ian Mitchell was unfortunate to lose his footing trying to clear in the area, and a Hazlemere player pounced to blast into the net and draw level.
Undeterred, Bassett refused to drop their heads, and from a Campbell corner Steve Lynch powered a header on target that was repelled by the Hazlemere goalkeeper.
The first of two turning points in the game arrived soon after, when Bassett conceded a fluke goal to go 2-1 behind. A Hazlemere player worked some space right on the bye-line, and his intended cross floated beyond the outstretched hand of Ceri Stephens, who was clearly disappointed not to have saved it.
The home 'keeper made partial amends minutes later, when he turned a powerful shot out for a corner at his near post. The half-time whistle then sounded on a lively opening half.
Bassett came out for the second half determined to get back into the contest, and their big opportunity was not long in coming. Kenny Campbell did superbly to close down the opposition full back, then their goalkeeper. He confidently took the ball round the stranded 'keeper, but with an open goal gaping, he hit the crossbar to the disbelief of everyone.
Having been let off the hook, Hazlemere smelt blood, and raised their game markedly for the remainder of the contest. This was particularly the case for striker Kevin Howell, who terrorized Bassett until the very end.
He almost opened his account with a superb stooping header which beat Stephens all ends up, only to be ruled out for offside. He was not to be denied for long, and having sprung the offside trap, he drove into the box before slipping the ball calmly past the keeper for 3-1.
Steve Lynch tried to drag Bassett back into it, but his fierce long-range strike was pushed over the bar.
Howell took centre stage again with his second goal, which was in a word, unstoppable. He took a touch on the edge of the area and hit a tracer bullet effort which left the home 'keeper grasping at thin air as it soared into the top right-hand corner to put Hazlemere out of sight at 4-1.
Stephens intervened to prevent further damage with an excellent save, diving full length to his left to divert the ball onto the post and clear, but it was soon back to the Kevin Howell show. He rounded off his day with another touch of class. Despite having his back to goal and two defenders in close attendance, he wriggled free and fired in to complete a memorable hat-trick.
At least there was late consolation for the hosts. A lapse in concentration from Hazlemere allowed the ball to reach Bryan Wood in the box. He teed up Roger Webb to pick out the far corner and reduce the arrears.
Overall, it was another encouraging display from Bassett who remain sixth out of eight in the table. They competed well for over an hour, before Hazlemere put on the after burners to pull clear.
Man of The Match: Bryan Wood stood out. His accurate passing and presence helped Bassett gain the upper hand in the first half. He also scored our first goal and set up our second. A popular choice with the rest of the lads I am sure.
Credit: Ceri Stephens
Last modified on Monday 14th December 2020 at 13:30