HELLENIC LEAGUE:Wind turns Highworth-Wootton Bassett derby into a 'non-event' (From This Is Wiltshire)
HELLENIC LEAGUE:Wind turns Highworth-Wootton Bassett derby into a 'non-event'
JOHN Fisher and Jeff Roberts agreed the gusty conditions put paid to any chance of a football match taking place when their sides met at the Elms on Saturday.
The pair had been involved in a series of less than complimentary public exchanges in the run up to the local derby, but after both teams shared a 1-1 draw, the pair also agreed a point each was a fair result.
The match, bereft of much quality and almost any clear chances, burst into life when Levi Cox punished Aaron Maximen’s mistake to give the visitors the lead on 75 minutes.
Matty Bennett levelled almost immediately for the Worthians to set up a tense finale, however the Wiltshire rivals could not be separated.
Highworth boss Fisher said: “As soon as the weather is like that, it’s a non-event really.
“It was a nice calm morning, so I was looking forward to the game, then I got it here and it’s 90 mph wind, it made a mockery of it really because you can’t clear your lines, you can’t do anything.”
Roberts was in agreement with his opposite number: “The weather killed it really,” he said. “The conditions were the same for both sides, but it affected us slightly more because we look to get the ball down and play football.
“The ball was going everywhere and it’s difficult to control any aspect of the game.”
In a first half where the wind affected the play to such a level that Bassett keeper Steve Allison often struggled to clear his own defenders from goal kicks, only one effort on target was mustered by either side - Highworth captain TJ Bohane's unmarked header was directed at Allison in the fourth minute.
Six yellow cards were handed out by the referee as he attempted to control the level of aggression that is to be expected in a local derby. However, when right back Steve Bunting was booked, seemingly for being the victim of a two-footed challenge from Ryan Stanners after half an hour, the contest threatened to become unsavoury.
After the break, Bassett tested debutant Gary Stevens in the Highworth goal twice in quick succession. First, Adam Corcoran could only direct his header straight at the ex-Purton man from Cox's free kick, then Stanners weaved some space to fire a shot, but again Stevens was equal to it.
Just after the hour, bright winger Matty Horsell’s direct running and skill outwitted visitors’ captain Steve Yeardley, and he unleashed a shot from 10 yards which hit the bar and bounced clear. Bohane was quickest to the rebound, but couldn't bundle the ball over the line and Bassett cleared.
A minute later Matty Bennett, who had looked impressive in the first half, had his powerful effort from the right well-saved by Allison low to his left. Dan Lardner's fantastic curling free kick from 25 yards was the closest the game had come to a goal, but Stevens was able to get across to his left to preserve the stalemate.
With 15 minutes remaining, a quick counter from Bassett found Highworth scrambling back. Stanners' first time through ball should have been easily intercepted by Maximen, but when he missed the ball, Cox was clear and he rounded Stevens before tapping Bassett into the lead.
That lead lasted only two minutes, as Maximen atoned for his error by flicking on a corner, causing panic in the Bassett box. In the ensuing melee, Bennett knocked the ball home off his shoulder to get the goal that his first half performance had deserved. In the dying minutes, both sides continued to push a for a winner, but in the end the two sides had to accept that there could only be one winner in this war of attrition - the wind.
At full-time Fisher, was unwilling to criticise makeshift centre back Maximen for the mistake that cost his side two points. “Maxplayed well today, aside from the goal,” Fisher said. “He’s missed it and we’ve been punished, but aside from that I thought he was outstanding today.”
Meanwhile, Roberts said he was frustrated to concede straight after taking the lead: “You’ve got to be switched on, a lot of sides concede as soon as they score, it’s happened to us a couple of times this season.
“But we're happy with a point.”
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