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28th April 2018 v RWBTFC

And so, we come to the last game of what has been, on the whole, an extremely good season. Lots of new faces attending games, a strong squad and, more importantly, a great camaraderie within the family. Our game today is the second of three games to be played at Royal Wootton Bassett Town FC on what has been billed as “Veterans Super Sunday” with our game being the main match in support of our fundraising for the RAFBF. There is a very good turn out in regards to our own family, including wives, girlfriends and children, as well as a decent turn out from the locals who have come along to watch.

Last season the RAF won this fixture by 3 goals to nil but the Wootton side are out for revenge this year and it’s obvious from their line up that they have chosen a “young” veterans side for this one. The teams take to the field and are lined up to be introduced to the VIP’s on the day, the Mayor of Royal Wootton Bassett, Councillor Steve Bucknell and our own President, Sir Chris Coville with John Neal’s two boys being our mascots for the day.

Kick off, and it’s Wootton with the kick. The first few minutes are nip and tuck with the ball being passed around in a leisurely manner by both sides. Possession is the key but both sides give the ball away easily at times with misplaced long balls and/or miscontrolling passes. With 5 minutes on the clock, the RAF break down a Wootton move and after interchanging passes down the right, the ball comes back to Bryan who travels forward before letting fly but it’s straight down the keepers throat and is easily saved. A couple of minutes later, some good interplay between Bryan and Rooney sees the ball end up at the feet of Edwards. He shimmies across the edge of the box before finally trying a shot but it’s blocked and cleared. It almost proved costly when Wootton broke through the centre before the ball was played out to the right. The Wootton winger got beyond the RAF defence and as Harris in goal came out he put a lovely ball into the box that saw their forward run onto it at the far post and with an open goal...he put it wide!! With 12 minutes on the clock a break by Rooney down the left left almost paid dividends but his cross took a deflection off a defender and fell slightly behind Fredriksen who tried to adjust but his scooped left foot effort sailed harmlessly over the bar. Harris, in the RAF goal, was then called into action with a fine save from a cross shot before the ball fell to another Wootton player whose shot was blocked and finally cleared. There are chances for both sides but, at present, Wootton are creating the better ones. The game at times is a little scrappy though there seems to be a lot of endeavour out on the pitch for no reward...as yet...for either side. A corner for the RAF almost sees a goal when an inswinger from the far side by Rooney hits the bar but the ball goes out for a goal kick to Wootton. After 30 minutes, a break by Wootton down the left sees the ball drilled over to the right where the number 14 for Wootton is waiting and he shoots first time across the advancing Harris and into the far corner of the net. A nice goal if you are a Wootton fan, a massive disappointment for the boys in blue. 1-0 Wootton. There were few chances in the remainder of the half as both sides cancelled each other out in midfield and the half time whistle goes. HT: RWBTFC 1-0 RAF

Quite a few changes are made at half time for the RAF boys and a couple of new faces get their chance. On reflection, with rolling subs allowed in these Vets games, it may be worth Matt looking at odd changes throughout the game, as Wootton did, (they started making substitutions from the 10th minute, taking players off and then bringing them back on again...they seemed fresh as daisies throughout!!).

On to the second half and the RAF kick off but Wootton quickly win the ball back and when the number 10 cuts back in from the right he strikes a sweet shot against the RAF crossbar...that was a let off. Once again the game is nip and tuck, and with neither side looking to have the upper hand now nor the werewithal to create meaningful opportunities in front of goal, this is not a classic by any means. Chances are few and far between for both sides but that changed in the 72nd minute when the RAF lost the ball in the centre of midfield. A break down the left by Wootton, saw the ball come across to the right where the number 14, who had made an unchallenged run through the centre, was waiting. He collected the pass, ran onto goal and, as Harris came out, fired his shot across the keeper and into the back of the net. 2-0 Wootton. That was the start of a passage of the game when Wootton were now on top and another break, this time down the right, saw a lovely diagonal ball played to the far post where the Wootton centre forward was waiting. A free header but he put it over. The RAF almost got back into the game when Coull played a great ball forward to Wanless who cut back inside two Wootton defenders before playing a pass to Bailey. With the goal open and the onion bag crying out to be hit...like his counterpart from Wootton in the first half...he put it wide. That sums up today I’m afraid...some good stuff to start but the finale is not there. Talking of finale...there were no more chances of note and the final whistle went with the score RWBTFC 2-0 RAF.

Wootton had got their revenge for last season but despite the prematch chat of “not treating this as an end of season game”, that would appear to be exactly what we got. It was a good run out for the boys, an opportunity to blood a couple of new players and despite the score, a fitting place to end our season. Massive thanks to all at RWBTFC for hosting this fixture (we have been invited back again next year) and what great facilities they have there. Massive shout out to Tony Reeves and his team who worked tirelessly behind the scenes on both the Saturday and the Sunday and raised a further £850 toward our target for the RAFBF...incredible!! Superb effort by all those who have supported the family over the season and, if you are not going to the Golf day/Presentation night, then you can put up your tired old legs and have a breather till we go again in July...when it all starts again!!

Starting XI: 1. Harris, 2. Robison, 3. Butt, 4. Taylor, 5. Bryan, 6. Shanks, 7. Pugh, 8. Bartley, 9. Fredriksen, 10. Edwards, 11. Rooney Subs: Byrne, Letch, Salkeld, Aitkenhead, Wanless, Weable, Meadows, Barker, Neal, Bailey, Dales. Manager: Beattie, Coaches: Gill, Salkeld

Many thanks to all who attended especially the female side of the family (I’ve been told by my other half not to call her a WAG!!), the children who were very well behaved (there was a bouncy castle there) and to John Bones, who despite the cold, managed to keep his camera clicking throughout. Onwards and upwards, or as we say in the RAF “Per Ardua ad Astra”, to next season.

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