The summer of 2015 was an exciting time for Wootton Basset football club. They adopted the prefix 'Royal' to their name after the town gained royal patronage in 2011. They also moved into their new, purpose built stadium situated on the northern extremities of the town opposite the rugby club. The New Gerard Buxton Sports Ground, as it is named, is a fairly large sports complex which incorporates cricket, tennis, and various levels of football on artificial and grass pitches. There is also a conference facility and function room at the ground. It is a very nicely put together complex which, I have no doubt, is a great asset to the town. However, as I have said before in previous blogs, although I completely understand the attraction of new, easy to maintain facilities, they do not have anywhere near the character of older football stadia.
The football ground at the Gerard Buxton complex is, pretty much, typical of these new arenas. Completely enclosed with wooden fencing and with two covered areas. The one nearest the car park side of the ground is a covered seating area whilst on the far side, in between the Perspex covered dugouts, is a covered standing area. Also on the car park side, towards the corner of the ground, is the club house, changing areas and tea bar. To be fair to the club, the playing surface at the ground is absolutely perfect and could be used as a great argument for these new developments. When the pitch was laid it is quite obvious that great care was taken to install excellent drainage because, whilst the surrounding grass areas were completely boggy and had patches of standing water, the playing surface was perfectly drained with no sign of any mud at all.
One more point to make before going on to the game itself is the programme. At £1.50 it is slightly more expensive than most at this level. However, it is also one of the best programmes that I have seen at Step 5, full of information and statistics, it really is a good read.
So, the game. Neither team has set the Hellenic League alight this season with Highmoor, in 11th, having a one league position edge over their hosts, but only on goal difference. The home side, however, came into the game having never beaten their visitors in the Hellenic League, with two draws and three defeats, the latest being a 4-0 setback in October.
So, at half-time it was all square but the home side would have been slightly the happier having created the clearer cut opportunities.
The second half started in the same manner as the first with the home side pushing Highmoor backwards for the first few minutes without really threatening. It was, however, the away side who finally made the breakthrough. A low, hard, Parker cross from the left side was met by the stooping White who headed powerfully past the home keeper to give Ibis the lead.
Just a couple of minutes later and it was 2-0, Parker scrambling a loose ball over the line and the linesman flagging that it had actually gone in, despite the protestations of the home defence.
Bassett summed up their evening by missing the penalty and Ibis saw out the remaining few minutes fairly easily to clock up the three points. So, it really was a case of new name, new stadium, same result for the home side. Six league fixtures against Highmoor and still without a win.
Royal Wootton Basset Town - @rwbtfc
Highmoor Ibis - @highmooribis