A potentially decisive afternoon in the race for the South West Regional Women's Football League Division One Eastern didn't go the way Royal Wootton Bassett Town wanted.
Adam Wood's side were held to a 1-1 draw at home against Weymouth. And with Poole Town winning 3-0 at home against Stockwood Wanderers in their penultimate match, that means that the Dolphins will be confirmed as champions if they triumph when they face Purton next week. Given their massive advantage on goal difference, a draw should probably suffice for the Dolphins too.
Knowing they had to win, Bassett started the game with intent but, despite knocking on the door, were unable to fashion any early clear cut chances.
A dangerous Emma Sykes delivery did force visiting 'keeper Issy Heybourne to make an alert save. But it was the visitors who had the first shot on goal as Millie Powell denied Bianca Osborne.
Osborne and teammate Bianca Redding shot straight at Powell again as the visitors posed a threat.
But the better chances were falling Bassett's way as Hannah Gulliver turned her marker, firing just wide from the edge of the area.
Eventually Bassett got their noses in front ten minutes before the interval as a fine turn from Libby Davies opened up space for her to produce an exquisite shot into the top corner.
It was a lead Basset took into the break - and both sides came out after half time with the aim to grab the all-important second goal.
A lively opening ten minutes saw Annie Redding stride into the Bassett box but she could only shoot into Powell's arms. At the other end, a last ditch tackle denied Davies when seemingly through on goal before Powell did brilliantly to parry from Kaydee Thornicroft, whose rebound effort was placed wide.
The game eventually settled down though and Bassett were the team again looking most dangerous. Holly Baker twice came close from a pair of Laura Jefferies deliveries. Davies then narrowly struck over.
The failure to convert those chances then proved costly as Weymouth equalised with twenty minutes to go. Unable to clear a corner at the first attempt, the ball dropped for Emily Screen who swivelled and arrowed a low drive into the corner of the net.
Bassett responded to the equaliser and piled on the pressure in the closing stages. Alas, the hosts ran out of time. Caily Morse's dangerous ball into the box flashed across the face of goal when all it seemingly needed was a touch. Davies steered wide from a Jefferies free kick. Then in the dying moments a corner caused chaos in the Weymouth box but somehow the visitors were able to survive.
For Bassett it's a case of what if following only the third league game all season in which they have dropped points. With just nine teams in the division and one side guaranteed promotion, fine margins were always going to prove vital though - and so they have proven, potentially to Bassett's detriment as they sought to bounce back to tier five at the earliest opportunity.
That may create some sense of disappointment. But Bassett are still favourites to finish runners-up - an achievement in itself, while there's also the opportunity to push for a run in the League Divisional Cup when that kicks off in March.
The title may most likely be out of reach, but there's still plenty to play for.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Sunday 11th February 2024 at 19:33