By Kevin Coles
2-3, our first defeat but lots learned and will hopefully be a positive moving forward this season.
Highworth had selection difficulties leading up to the game due to the unavailability of Chris Oke (wedding), Chris Jackson(work and it being his Birthday!), Adam Whitefield (work), Dom Randall(family commitments), Adi Roper, Dan Jelley and Callum Little still suspended and Scott Chilcott called up to the first team.
However thanks are owed to Liam Gallagher who left work early, and Harry Hambidge who answered the call less than three hours before kick off to enable us to have 12 available players.
This all led to a much more experienced spine of the team than usual with Michael Solan also playing his first game for the club this season. On such a hot day the age of the side probably worked against us as the referee was intent on not allowing water breaks, which I’m sure a more experienced official would have seen as a sensible decision on such an unexpectedly hot day.
As predicted after last week's woeful display in front of goal this continued into this match with Coles squandering an easy opportunity after only 5 minutes, it takes some player to get the ball that far over and wide from 10 yards !!. Highworth were punished on this occasion, last week we were fortunate to get away with an easy victory against a poor side but Bassett have started the season well and have a youthful side full of exuberance. They went up the other end following this chance and following a poor throw in by Kirby they capatilised and broke down Highworth's left and crossed for Bassett's forward to head the ball into the bottom corner.
Highworth did start to get their game together, and a goal by Coles to equalise ,was quickly followed by another by Harry. Harry’s goal came following a quick counter-attack, he picked up the ball 30 yards from goal and drove straight down the centre of Bassett's defence before neatly side footing the ball under the advancing goalkeeper.
Bassett Drew level just before half time, which was probably fair after an even first half. Again they capatisilised on poor play down Highworth's left and a threatening cross was diverted by a Highworth defender into his own net.
Coming out for the second half at two-each, all was still to play for, and Bassett had made their second substitution at half time taking off their number 2 who had struggled in the first half and reshuffled their back four dropping their effective captain into the back four. This appeared to have worked well as for the first 10 mintues they were on top.
Highworth then made a change of their own decided by Adi and Chuffy who replaced Josh Kirby with Liam Gallagher and a few positional changes saw Harry drop into left back, Corks into centre of midfield and Liam join Coles up front. It proved a masterstroke as Highworth proceeded to dominate the next 25 minutes but several chances came and went with them hitting the woodwork no less than 4 times, and as frustrations grew several needless bookings were picked up, although four bookings for Highworth and two for the home side were probably avoidable if the referee hadn’t been so easily influenced by outside factors, but hopefully he’ll gain experience from this game and go on to referee at a higher level.
As often happens when chances are not converted, Bassett punished Highworth with less than 10 minutes to go when they scored the 5th goal of the game and what proved to be the winner. The passion displayed by them after the final whistle shows how much it meant to them and they probably deserved victory as they stuck doggedly to the task despite being under pressure for long periods.
As for Highworth, player availability eases over the next few weeks and the displays of several of the 16 year olds again impressed. One would assume training on Tuesday will comprise of some finishing practice !