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19 January 2020 v Royal Wootton Bassett Town FC Vets at USW Treforest

Onto day 2 of the weekend and next up would be Royal Wootton Bassett Town FC Vets. Another tough game and as usual, some players had left the squad whilst new arrivals would make up the numbers again. Bassett owe us one and we’d have to be up for this.

Bassett kick off but the first attempt is in the 3rd minute and was a long range effort from Thomas but was over the bar. Just two minutes later though, Bassett took the lead when a mistake at the back gave the ball away and though Algar got a hand to the shot he couldn’t keep it out. 1-0 Bassett. Five minutes later things got worse when the RAF failed with an offside call. A good clearing header by Brown only gave temporary respite as from the resultant throw in, a cross came into the box and was headed powerfully home. 2-0 Bassett. It was all Bassett and it was as if the RAF had never met each other before, didn’t know what colour we were playing in (they all kept passing to yellow shirts) and more importantly, they looked as though they had never played football before. It was a rarity to see two RAF passes put together let alone create a chance. After 24 minutes it got worse. A good break down the left saw the ball put into a forward 10 yards from goal. He controlled the pass, sidestepped, and after sending both defender and keeper the wrong way, slotted into an empty net. 3-0 Bassett. It got no better for the RAF and eight minutes later it was four when sloppy play again gave the ball away. Once again the cross found the head of the forward and it was dispatched with aplomb. 4-0 Bassett. The RAF were third best to everything and there were only TWO teams on the pitch. What was going on? Wanless then forced the Bassett keeper into a save but from the resultant corner the RAF gave the ball away again. After 41 minutes a cross shot from the left flies into the box. Robison, in trying to clear inadvertently turns the ball into his own net and its 5-0 Bassett. Half time can’t come soon enough for the RAF and when it does, it’s a blessing. Bassett only scored FIVE!!! HT 5-0 Bassett.

There are times in football when nothing you do seems to go right. It’s happened to us all but normally our teammates can get you out of a hole. Unfortunately, when your teammates are making the same mistakes, one or two players cannot carry the rest and that has just been proven. Matt even had to demonstrate how to kick a ball properly at half time without the aid of a ball...enough said, but Fergie’s “hairdryer” moment comes to mind. What would emerge from the wreckage of the dressing room for the second half?

RAF kick off and immediately a chance falls to Donnelly but is wasted. Thomas then gets in a shot but wide and then...and I didn’t even see it (obviously still in shock from the first half), the RAF scored. I had to ask after the game what happened and was told it was a shot by Brown from the edge of the box. A great goal by all accounts and my apologies to Browner for missing it. I was sat behind the goal watching and it didn’t register at all. I have a doctors appointment a week on Wednesday, I think, for a check on Alzheimers!! 5-1 Bassett. In the 50th minute a free kick to the RAF comes to nil but when the ball comes back in, Thomas is through but he delays his shot and the ball is cleared for a corner. This is much better by the RAF but why has it only started in this half? It was all RAF now and it wasn’t until the 66th minute that Bassett had a shot on goal in this half. It was wide but they quickly followed up with another that brought a great save from Algar low down to his left. In the 72nd minute, great work and skill by Wanless saw him beat the defender out wide and pull the ball back for Brown to steer home. 5-2 Bassett. 80 minutes gone and another free kick to the RAF but the ball is cleared. However they win the ball back quickly and Wanless gets in a strike on goal. The ever alert Thomas nips between defender and keeper and flicks the shot beyond both and into the net. 5-3 Bassett. A minute later Macek gets in a header but he can’t control it and it’s over before Brown has a goal ruled out for a foul on the keeper. How that can be given is a joke as the keeper caught the ball and as he came back down he bounced the ball onto Brown’s head and straight out of his hands and into the net (maybe we need VAR!!). Still 5-3 but this game is far from over and Wanless almost scored in the 88th minute when after a mazy dribble into the box his shot cannons back off the bar. Still the RAF kept coming and Wanless got two more shots away, both wide, before the final whistle went. FT 5-3 Bassett.

Talk about a game of two halves. This was a ridiculous example of that. Where were the RAF in that first half? Where were Bassett in the second? Where was I for that first RAF goal? So many questions but the upshot is...the RAF can not afford to start so slowly come the Inter Services. That said, today was a timely reminder of that and to be fair...this time last year we played in Cardiff against HMP and a similar thing happened in that we lost that game, learnt from it and won the Inter Services. Deja Vu? I hope so.

Thanks to the Bassett lads for the game, to Craig Gill again for use of the venue, to Snowy in Pontypridd for the aftermatch hosting and to Liverpool FC who made my drive home a very pleasant experience.

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