We made the short trip to Fairford in rural Gloucestershire for an ‘away’ game against Swindon Town development which is best known for its famous air show but today myself and the other Wootton Bassett fans were hoping to see our team fly to the top of the South-West Women’s Football League Eastern Division. With a twelve point lead over rivals Frampton Rangers and level on points, a win against today opponents should be enough to secure the title.
We entered the traditional bar in the very pleasant looking ground where we treated ourselves to a lovely Cheeseburger, one of the best I’ve had at a football ground! Served by the club’s very friendly independent caterers ‘Spikes’ who gave me a company mug when I complimented the chef on his cooking.
The atmosphere was superb! As we mixed with the home supporters mostly consisting of parents of the players, the game began with Bassett in the ascendancy. Topscorer, Hayley Huckin, just missed as her long-range shot fizzed across the face of goal. A Lisa Coe corner was headed in by Huckin to give Bassett a vital 1-0 lead to calm the nerves of the away fans who were positioned in a nice cosy stand at the side of the pitch next to the dugouts.
Swindon themselves got going on this heavy pitch, a piledriver from way out towards the away goal was met by a very good save by Abi Footner who tipped the ball over the bar.
Swindon had opportunities but the Bassett defence who had been brilliant all season, especially the ice cool Jess Dent kept the home side at bay. Young Bassett striker Emily Arrell tried a neat move on the left but was excellently stopped by Swindon defender Katie Evans who had a very good game. Huckin had two good chances that went over. As the ref signalled for half time as we found out that Frampton were 2-1 against Laverstock & Ford to confirm that Bassett had a very big 45 minutes ahead of them.
Swindon were now posing problems of there own, which meant that Wootton Bassett, who had been visited by Phil Neville and the England team for a behind closed doors training session recently, had to defend like ‘Lionesses’ and Skipper Laura Jeffries and her defensive unit put their bodies on the line to ensure the 1-0 lead was kept intact.
A heart in mouth moment followed when Swindon’s Chloe Buller hit the crossbar. Panic quickly turned to ecstasy as Bassett midfielder Amber Egerton smashed a cross/shot into the top right corner of the net with five minutes to go. This settled any Bassett nerves once and for all. The ref ended proceedings to confirm a remarkable season for Bassett who after being crowned Wiltshire FA Cup winners last month were now league Champions having been pushed all the way by Frampton Rangers in a thrilling title race that went to the final minutes of the season. They won 4-1 on the day but agonisingly lost out on top spot on goal difference.
A jubilant management duo of Jonny House and James Goddard could only utter the words “GET IN” when I asked them to sum up their feelings. Both men have worked wonders with this young team since there arrival at the beginning of the season and will have quite a challenge to build another squad in what will be a much tougher league but that is for another day as for now there is much celebrating to do.