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29th August 2021 v RWBTFC O35s at Royal Wootton Bassett.

We are back again…this time it’s the Over 35s and we are still at our old friends Royal Wootton Bassett.

Firstly, please forgive my preamble here as I make excuses for the amount of superlatives I have used in reporting on the last 5 or 6 O35s games. In my humble opinion it has been well deserved as they have taken apart strong opposition with a style of teamwork, effort, skill, intensity and panache. Manager, Matt Beattie, and his coaching staff have developed a squad where everyone knows what they have to do and that they have to go out and do it!! No one gets carried in this squad and anyone selected steps up to the plate in the knowledge that they are there on merit. None of the links in this chain are weak and whether the players know this or not, they seem to up their game each time they meet.

The last words of the manager and coaching staff prior to kick off was simple…to start where we left off last season, to treat this as an Inter Service game and to go out and do the business. Simple, but would it be effective? We shall see…

The RAF kick off and as usual in games between these two sides, honours are even early doors as both teams try to gain an upper hand. The first shot of note came in the 7th minute from a Bassett player but was easily saved by Algar in the RAF goal. The RAF went straight down to the other end and won a corner. The corner was taken by Watkin and was expertly placed into the middle of the six yard box. Steve Norton reacted quickest ghosting between two defenders to head home and it’s 1-0 RAF. In the tenth minute the RAF almost doubled the lead but Wanless could only steer his effort wide but they were not left to wait long for a second. Just a minute later Phil Groves sidestepped a defender, drew the keeper and slotted home. 2-0 RAF. It was soon to get even better when some great build up play and passing involving Dixon, Watkin, Norton and Wanless saw a last ditch half clearance. The ball fell to Rooney who stroked the ball home. If you thought there was shock on the faces of everyone in the first game when Bassett scored first it was nothing compared to this…A Rooney goal…the first one he has EVER scored from open play so standby to be regaled at every opportunity. He will dine out on that for years!! 3-0 RAF and just seventeen minutes on the clock. Two minutes later it’s FOUR!! Scott Lawrie picked the ball up 25 yards out, looked up and stroked the ball into the corner of the net leaving the goalkeeper no chance. 4-0 RAF and then it got better still when Norton netted again to make it FIVE after just twenty minutes. 5-0 RAF. At this point, whilst rabbitting into my dictaphone, I overheard a conversation from behind me… “yes, I watch lots of veterans football all over but this RAF team have to be one of the best veteran sides in the country”…from what I was watching I couldn’t disagree. After 29 minutes it was 6 when Scott Lawrie netted his second and it was all one way traffic. A rare mistake by Burns at the back almost let Bassett in but the shot went high and over and Bassett were punished as the RAF went down the other end and a superb ball into the box found the head of Wanless and it’s 7-0 RAF with 35 minutes gone. Bassett pulled a goal back before half time when the number 15 tried a speculative overhead kick. He missed it completely but the number 11 lashed the ball back across the box and the number 15 had picked himself up and nodded past Algar from close range. 7-1 RAF and that’s how it stayed until half time.

What could be said about that performance well…The management team seemed happy BUT…they had new targets…score 4 more in the second half and keep a clean sheet this half. I’d liked to have said something but my jaw was on the floor after witnessing that half (trying to stay off the superlatives).

Bassett kick off the second half and a speculative effort from the halfway line is easily saved albeit at the second attempt as it almost flew over the head of Algar. Five minutes in it’s 8-1 RAF when following some trickery down the left by Watkin he found Lawrie. His shot, although goalbound, struck a defender but dropped at the feet of Norton who calmly poked home to complete his hattrick. Almost immediately, the clean sheet target disappeared when Bassett scored a second. They then scored a third with a glorious strike into the top corner from 25 yards after they had done well to contain, harry and finally win the ball from the RAF midfield. Was a comeback on? Answer was a resounding NO as, not to be outdone, Lawrie scored his third when he controlled the ball on his chest, brought it down, took a stride to the right and curled a beauty past the keeper. 9-3 RAF. Two hatricks now, who would get the matchball? Would there be enough matchballs to go around. Players looked hungry and Wanless looked as if he could get a hattrick too. First though he had to score his second and he duly did. A sweet little chip to the far post from Lawrie found the head of Wanless and the ball found the back of the net. 10-3 RAF. Bassett were not playing badly, the RAF were just far superior on the day but they were unlucky when a striker went through on goal. Algar half saved but the ball rebounded out and the second shot looked to be going in but there was Dixon to clear off the line. It was amazing to discover that only 16 minutes of the second half had been played at this point!! A raft of substitutions followed and the intensity that had been built waned slightly but that was only because the game had been played at a tremendous pace and the team that were on now had basically only just come into the game. The next thirty minutes or so was nip and tuck as both sides probed…Bassett for consolation, the RAF to attain a target. It was the RAF who broke the deadlock and achieved their target of four second half goals when Mike Jeffery slotted home to make it 11-3 to the RAF and that’s how it stayed till the end. I think the report to the manager and coaching staff from the players was a resounding…”mission accomplished” and I think the management staff agreed. Just have to keep it up now boys…no room for complacency here!!

RAF Squad:

Algar, Barker, Dixon, Burns, Rooney, Norton, Groves, Arscott, Watkin,Wanless, Lawrie, Addlesee, Tweedy, Jeffery, Hennessy

Other RAF representatives on the day (that have not had a mention in either report lol):

Sir Chris Coville, Paul Thorogood, Matt Beattie, Craig Gill, Gus Payne, PD Morris, Jack Morris, Ian McDonald, Martin Bonner, Jim Sheehan

I know I have missed people out, sorry. Memory not as good as it used to be

A massive THANK YOU to all at Royal Wootton Bassett Town FC for hosting us again this year and we look forward to the next meet.

“The scores don’t count, the friendship does”.

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