Bailey Gallagher, Alan Griffin
A fantastic comeback and dogged second half display saw Royal Wootton Bassett Town fetch what, appeared at half time, to be a highly unlikely point away from home against promotion hopefuls Cribbs.
Trailing 2-0 at the break after a dominant first half display from the hosts, Bassett appeared set to continue what, up to that point, had literally been a dry January.
But rather than licking their wounds, a gutsy second half performance – punctuated by Bailey Gallagher's 47th minute strike, Alan Griffin's 60th minute penalty and some late heroics from 'keeper Eddie Cavanagh – saw Sam Collier's side earn their reward.
A point may not appear much in the grand scheme of things, but it was a vital one for a side who had started the calendar year on the wrong foot.
The visitors had been slow out of the blocks and Cribbs fully deserved the half time advantage they enjoyed.
Consistent pressure throughout the opening period eventually yielded an opening goal shortly before the half hour mark as Ross McErlain headed home from a corner.
Sensing that Bassett were there for the taking, Cribbs continued to probe but forward Steve Murray – who had earlier been denied by a defensive block and Cavanagh save – failed to beat the Bassett 'keeper when through one-on-one.
Teammate Jack Fillingham delivered a second for his side soon enough though, firing in an unstoppable half volley seven minutes before the break.
At 2-0 down and having not had a sniff against their dominant hosts, Bassett thus went into the dressing room at half time with their tails between their legs. But, shortly after the restart, their tails were up as Gallagher thumped home to halve Cribbs' advantage.
The scores were then level on the hour mark. Gallagher – who has had a highly impressive first full season since stepping up from the Development team – was again involved, as he broke into the box before drawing a foul. While it was the young pup who won the penalty, it was down to the old dog Griffin to take the spot kick and the veteran marksman shepherded his side back onto level terms, registering his eleventh league goal of the campaign.
There was still plenty of time remaining though, and Cribbs – on something of an indifferent run of late – could scent that more points in the race for second place were slipping out of their paws.
The hosts then proceeded to hound the Bassett goal in the closing stages – but to no avail.
They thought they should have had a penalty when Murray was felled in the box on 67 minutes. Substitute Niza Chilufya sent a stray shot straight at Cavanagh with nine remaining. The seemingly luckless Murray subsequently saw an effort blocked on the line before Fillingham crashed a powerful volley against the bar. Then, in the final minute, Cavanagh leapt across his goal to stroke away a Fillingham header.
Cribbs had thrown everything they could at their visitors to try and make up for letting slip their lead – but Bassett did enough to hang on to a valuable away point.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Wednesday 12th January 2022 at 09:01
Bailey Gallagher, Alan Griffin