Wantage Hold Onto Third Place
Bassett Humbled For A Third Time
Wantage went about their business with a routine 3-0 win at Royal Wootton Bassett that moves them to within a point of second placed Highworth. The Worthians’ long run at the top of the league having come to an end today as they were not in action; FA Vase Finalists Thatcham seized the opportunity to take pole position with a 6-0 win at bottom club Burnham.
Having already beaten Bassett twice this season the hosts offered little to indicate they would be able to stop Wantage securing the hat-trick of wins. Callum Wright fired a 35 yard strike comfortably wide on 9 minutes for Bassett, whist Jim Glover returned the favour three minutes later from a Steve Robertson lay-off.
The first real chance of note fell to Bassett’s Dale Richards after 20 minutes, Brad Cox losing possession pushing forward and the lively number 10 out-paced Chris Jackson to get one-on-one with Curtis Meare. But the former Bassett stopper’s mere presence was enough to force the shot wide of the far post.
Harvey Scholes then saw his effort to give Wantage the lead on 26 minutes well blocked by Harrison Gough after a flowing move down the right flank involving Robertson and Jack Dunmall. And the same defender again denied Scholes ten minutes later.
With neither keeper seriously tested the opening goal rather came out of the blue; Scholes jinxed down the right before finding Dunmall’s feet. The striker slipped as he tried to turn, but even on the floor managed to retain possession, arise, turn and curl an effort past Ian Gill into the far corner.
Jackson then blocked an effort from player/manager Sam Collier, who contrary to his press interview before the game had elected to start himself, on 41 minutes after the ball was cleared to him from a Bassett corner.
And in the last minute of the half Glover scorned the chance to increase the lead as, after having skipped past two challenges, he could only fire straight at Gill at the near post.
Wantage looked livelier from the start of the second half, Scholes having a shot blocked on 47 minutes and Dunmall putting the rebound wide. Nick Thorne, on at the break for the injured Mark Flanagan, also fired wide three minutes later.
The hosts responded quickly and David Coleman worked himself into a shooting position a minute later, but with Cox challenging the shot went harmlessly wide.
Wantage increased their lead on 65 minutes when Scholes’ perfectly placed a free-kick over the wall and into the far corner gave Gill no chance, mirroring a similar effort in the recent home game against Flackwell.
Bassett responded well and went looking for a way back into the game. Coleman made his way to the goal-line on 69 minutes, but Cox was again on hand to block the shot at the near post.
The returning Mark Francis replaced Scholes with 20 minutes to go, and was presented with an opportunity ten minutes later, but showed a little rustiness with a shot that cleared the bar.
But the third came a minute later, Robertson twisting and turning in the area before nutmegging Collier and toe-poking the ball inside the near post before Gill could react.
The hosts’ Ben Lodge had arrived on the scene with ten minutes to go and posed several questions of the Wantage back line, and almost reduced the deficit just after Wantage’s third. But again Meare was quickly out to block with his legs, allowing Cox to hack clear.
And that was that. Not a classic by any means, with a definite end-of-season feel about it especially in the first half. It was a better second-half and Wantage deserved their win.
Next up is a trip to Oxford City Nomads next Saturday. But with fourth placed Bracknell playing at Lydney mid-week they will move above Wantage with a win, and Highworth have two mid-week league fixtures that on paper they should win.
It’s looking like it will be a tussle with their Wiltshire neighbours for a third place finish for Wantage, but only time will tell.
Wantage: Curtis Meare, Dan Comer, Paul Alder, Matt Cheetham (Mark Threlfall 59), Chris Jackson (c), Brad Cox, Harvey Scholes (Mark Francis 70), Jim Glover, Steve Robertson, Jack Dunmall, Mark Flanagan (Nick Thorne HT). Subs n/u: none
Royal Wootton Bassett: Ian Gill, George Lance (Tony Joyce 65), Harrison Gough, Callum Wright (c), Steve Yeardley, Sam Collier, Kai Robinson (Gio Wrona 75), Richie Saunders, Dave Coleman (Ben Lodge 79), Dale Richards, George Staten. Subs n/u: Lee Beale, Alex Bowers
Referee: Ross Murphy
Picture from yoursportswindon.co.uk