WILTSHIRE LEAGUE: Bassett's Development side edge out Wanderers
WOOTTON Bassett Town Development boss Mark Varney will measure success this season if he ends the campaign with a completely different side from that which started it on Saturday.
Bassett kicked off their year in the new-look 18-team Wiltshire League Premier Division with a see-saw 5-4 victory over newcomers Trowbridge Wanderers.
Danny Hale scored twice for the home side at Ballards Ash, with Ashley Chapman, Richard Clark and Ray Lovell also on the scoresheet.
Varney said: “It’s a different team to the one we had last season and we’ve got a young side so hopefully we can do our best.
“The likelihood is that we will be bringing kids through from the under 18s, but I want a strong league position, rather than be challenging at the bottom.
“We want guys to come through and be challenging for places in the reserve and first teams and it’s a personal goal of mine that, at the end of the season, that the team is different from the one that started the season.
“Whether that means we are top of the league or in mid-table I will be happy.’’ Bassett led at half time as Hale’s clever chip and Lovell’s lashed half-volley sandwiched a Trowbridge reply.
Town conceded penalties either side of Clark scoring direct from a corner in the second half before Hale struck on the volley to give his side the advantage for a fourth time.
Back came Wanderers yet again but, after a scramble at the back post from a cross, Chapman bundled home the winner in the last 30 seconds.
Varney added: “We got off to a good start but Trowbridge played well. Overall we played good football and were very difficult to play against.
“It was slightly naive defending to give away two penalties like we did but we were able to outscore them.
“That was only the team’s second outing (this season) after one friendly so I was happy with the performance.’’ Wroughton also got off to a winning start in the division as they edged out FC Chippenham Youth by a single goal at Stanley Park.
Simon Lowe was on target for the visitors to give Mark Love’s side the perfect start.
Club secretary Stef Kuczynski said: “We missed a penalty as well but we probably just had the edge on them. They were no mugs down there.
“We’ve got a much better team than last season and we’ll be looking for a finish in the top six instead of the bottom six.
“There is a good squad together and with 18 teams in the division it is better this time. It was a bit disappointing last season but that number of teams makes it more worthwhile.’’ Elsewhere, reigning champions Southbrook suffered a first-day defeat as they were upset 5-3 at home by Devizes Town Reserves.
Malmesbury Victoria, who dropped down to the league from the Hellenic League with a revamped squad, made a winning start with a 1-0 success at home to Shrewton United.
Last season’s runners-up Supermarine Sports Club opened their account with a 3-1 win over Westbury United Reserves, Ashley Bragg, Kieran Jennings among the goalscorers.
There were also wins for Ludgershall Sports, Trowbridge Town and Marlborough Town.
The Wiltshire League has also taken on the administration of the county under 18 Floodlit League this season, with eight teams plus Salisbury City taking part, while the spare side this week is likely to play Swindon Town, who were unable to join the set-up due to FA rules.
The third division of the Wiltshire League is an U21 division, set up as part of the league’s development plan.
General secretary Jim Thorn said: “The establishment of an U21 Division is primarily to address the fall-out of a considerable number of players once they each the age of 18.
“The main youth and minor leagues in the county do a great job for players up to 18, but a considerable number then drop out of football for various reasons “Many of the players in the youth and minor leagues play with the same teammates, possibly from the age of 6-18. The better players then move into adult football, but a large number don’t feel that they’re ready for the physical challenges that adult football can bring and cease playing.
“The U21 Division will allow thse players to stay together for a further two or three years, after which they will have th option of joining one of the district or Sunday leagues in the county.’’ Four clubs – AFC Corsham, Croft Junior, FC Abbey Meads and FC Calne – have currently committed to the league, but any further ones interested can contact Thorn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07860 520046.