Natalie Goodright, Laura Jefferies
Royal Wootton Bassett Town came from behind to secure a vitally important 2-1 victory away at Poole Town as Adam Wood and his side bounced back from last week's heavy defeat against the Dolphins. And captain Laura Jefferies was instrumental in her team's win, equalising before teeing up Natalie Goodright for the go ahead goal as Bassett impressively ground out a much needed result.
With only one team guaranteed to go up, last week's chastening 5-1 home loss against Poole left Bassett's South West Regional Women's Football League Division One Eastern promotion hopes hanging in the balance. And with back to back fixtures against the Dolphins, a second defeat would likely have proved terminal for those chances.
The pressure was therefore on as Bassett made the journey to Dorset. But in testing circumstances the team delivered, grinding out three important points.
While Jefferies is the one making the headlines courtesy of her involvement in both Bassett goals, victory was earned thanks to vital performances across the pitch.
'Keeper Millie Powell was one of them as she made three crucial saves in the opening exchanges. Lauren Kelly was first to be denied before a Powell fingertip helped guide an Emma King effort on to the post. Powell then stood firm to deny King again after she had beat the offside trap.
For the remainder of the opening half Bassett had the better of the chances.
Seizing on a defensive slip, Holly Baker ran at goal before seeing her shot scooped up by Bebe Smith.
Hannah Gulliver twice came close, sending a free kick in a good position wide before narrowly shooting over.
After a Maddy Elliott strike was blocked, King scuffed wife at the other end.
Two Emma Sykes passes then almost teed Bassett up for the opening goal. Her first was intercepted by Smith just ahead of Gulliver before her second picked out Elliott who could only fire straight at the 'keeper.
The first half therefore ended goalless. However it didn't take long after the restart for the deadlock to be broken.
Bassett had already survived a scare when Darcy Cox recovered well to deny Kate Marshallsay a sight on goal after she had intercepted a Kelly Nightingale pass.
But Poole eventually went ahead. Beth Anderson opened up the Bassett defence before the ball was worked to King whose cross picked out an unmarked Marshallsay to tap in.
Bassett responded well though as Jefferies soon equalised. Powell did well to punch away a corner and from the resulting phase of play, Bassett broke forward with Sykes finding Jefferies who produced a perfectly weighted lob to beat Smith from twenty yards out.
That set up a tense final quarter of the match.
For Poole Marshallsay was denied by Powell while Kelly shot wide. At the other end Jefferies saw an effort bounce off the bar.
Then as time wound down came the decisive moment as Jefferies delivered an inch perfect set piece which Goodright headed home from a matter of yards.
It wasn't the most beautiful of goals but it certainly was an important one, with Bassett seeing out the remaining time to preserve a massive win.
There is still plenty of work to do if Bassett are to vie for promotion. But winning the two games in hand they hold over Poole will now see the teams draw level on points. And it's now a wide open race too with Stockwood Wanderers - three points ahead of Bassett having played a game more - and Bath City - level with Wood's side - also in the mix.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Sunday 5th November 2023 at 18:56
Natalie Goodright, Laura Jefferies