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sam collier royla wootton bassett hellenic leagueFull Squad Available - 11 January

Royal Wootton Bassett Town manager Sam Collier is happy to start his side’s New Year fixtures in the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division with a selection headache. Writes Harry Abbott in the Swindon Advertiser

Collier (pictured) has a healthy 18-man squad to pick from for Saturday’s trip to Ardley United, a stark contrast to the threadbare numbers he had available for the concluding games of 2018.

Bassett will return to action refreshed as they face their first game since December 29, and boss Collier says the extended break has been the ideal tonic. “We’ve had a longer rest than most clubs, but the schedule we had over Christmas was pretty relentless,” said Collier. “In the last couple of games before the turn of the year, we had the bare 11 players. I was without nine or 10 regulars due to holidays, injuries or suspension. We’ve got six or seven of them back in and refreshed and I have got 18 players to pick from this weekend. I haven’t had a selection headache in this sense for while, so it’s nice. It must be January as everyone wants to get out and run around.”

Bassett travel to an Ardley side who have struggled so far this season, sitting fourth from bottom in the table with 23 points from 22 games. However, Collier’s side were only narrow 2-1 winners in the reverse fixture back in November, so the Bassett boss is not expecting a straight-forward afternoon.

Collier said: “I think Ardley had probably 70 per cent of the possession when they came to our place earlier in the season. They have got some good players and they pass the ball around very nicely – they just didn’t cause us too many problems at the back. It will be a tough game, as they all are, and we will give them our full respect.”

As for Bassett, they are currently sixth in the table, although no team has played more than their 26 league fixtures. “I have had a chat with the chairman and I know what I would like to achieve in the second half of the season,” said Collier. “We have played quite a few games more than a lot of other teams, so if we could finish in the top 10, that would be great. Any higher would be fantastic considering we were one of the favourites to go down at the start of the season.”

 

500 Up For Yeardley - 8 December

steve yeardley 500 appearances for royal wootton bassett 7 december 2018Royal Wootton Bassett Town’s 1-1 draw against Brimscombe and Thrupp on Friday came on a milestone night for Steve Yeardley as he made his 500th first team appearance for the club.

To mark the occasion, chairman Andy Walduck presented Yeardley – without doubt the leading appearance maker in the club’s history – with a commemorative vase prior to kick off.

While Yeardley did give away a first half penalty that Ash Caldwell converted for Brimscombe, during the game he played a key role at centre half, helping frustrate the visitors’ potent strikeforce to secure a valuable point for his side.

His 500th game came sixteen years and a week after he made his Bassett debut, aged just 17, in a Hellenic League Supplementary Cup tie against Clanfield at Rylands Way. He quickly established himself in a side then managed by his father Pete Yeardley. And all these years later, he remains a key member of the Bassett team.

Along the way, Yeardley has made many significant contributions for Bassett.
Despite playing for the majority of his career as a defender, he has always had a knack for scoring goals, netting 77 times in Bassett colours. That haul includes a brace in a 2-1 FA Cup triumph against Bracknell Town, then plying their trade two divisions higher than Bassett, in 2007.

Other notable strikes include goals against Calne Town and Highworth Town in the same competition during Bassett’s journey to the second qualifying round in 2012-13 and the match winner in the FA Vase first round against Ampthill Town in 2017-18, a goal that ensured Bassett equalled their best ever run.

Meanwhile, he has featured in all positions – including goalkeeper – for Bassett, while also playing through the pain barrier on multiple occasions. One of Yeardley’s standout performances was in November 2006 when he played every minute of a Wiltshire Senior Cup tie against Calne Town that went to extra time and penalties just days after having completed the New York Marathon.

In total, Yeardley has played for seven different permanent managers and alongside an astonishing 306 different teammates at Bassett. His time with Bassett has been split over two spells, with Yeardley playing more than 130 times for Highworth from 2009 to 2012, winning the Hellenic League Challenge Cup in his final season with the Worthians.

 

Football This Friday - 4 December

Royal Wootton Bassett Town will be hosting Friday Night Football on 7 December as they clash with fellow Hellenic League Premier Division high-flyers Brimscombe and Thrupp.

And it promises to be an entertaining encounter at the Gerard Buxton Sports Ground (7.45pm kick off). Brimscombe currently occupy second spot in the table and are hot on the heels of leaders Brackley Town Saints. Bassett, meanwhile, are positioned not far behind their Gloucestershire opponents, though will be looking to narrow the gap particularly given the three extra games they have played so far.

Historically, Bassett have enjoyed a fair amount of success against the Lilywhites, despite never having finished above them in the league. In fourteen league encounters over the past seven seasons, Bassett have won seven compared to Brimscombe's five triumphs with two matches having ended all square.

Games between the teams are typically tight encounters too: in those league meetings, Bassett have scored eighteen times to Brimscombe's seventeen, and the average 2.5 goals per game that the contests have produced is low when compared with Bassett's records against other rivals.

Last season's fixtures did serve to increase that average, however, with Brimscombe completing a rather comfortable league double, triumphing 3-0 in Gloucestershire before prevailing 3-1 in the return match in Wiltshire. Bassett will therefore be hoping to avenge those losses. And they will be buoyed by their impressive home record this season too, which has seen them win nine league games, draw once and loss only twice. They will have to be at their best though considering Brimscombe possess the second best away record in the league, recording 23 out of a possible 33 points that have been available to them.

While it's likely going to be a cold December night, the game should be a good one and provide enough entertainment to make braving the chill worthwhile!

 

Tough Encounter For Bassett - 2 November

Royal Wootton Bassett manager Sam Collier says Abingdon United will provide a tough test despite their deceptive league position.

Bassett currently sit fourth in the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division table, while their weekend visitors are languishing at the bottom of pile. Collier, who used to play for the Oxfordshire side, steered his team to a 2-1 win over Virginia Water on Tuesday night after being given last weekend off.

While the Bassett boss admits his former employers are clearly struggling, he says they will still be a difficult team to beat. “Abingdon are certainly under achieving this season with the players they have and a good manager too,” he said in the Swindon Advertiser. “I feel their league position is incorrect and I'd back them to still finish in the top half. I spent two great seasons at Abingdon as a player when I first left Bassett and I very much enjoyed my time there. The week off helped us rest some very tired legs along with giving the lads who have been carrying knocks a chance to recover. Our own league position is pleasing and I'm happy to be in the top four. We have played more games than anyone else below us, but we would certainly rather have the points on the board. If we want to stay in the top six to eight teams, we need to be better at backing up a win with another win, starting this weekend.”

Fitness-wise, Collier will be without both Danny Lachacz and Iggy Illot as they were struggling with injury. Lachacz has a slight calf problem, while Illot is still recovering from a sore knee.

However, the Bassett boss will be boosted by the return of Matthew Bennett and Carl Evans who are available for selection again. Bassett have also further strengthened their squad with the signing of Mani Roper from league rivals Shrivenham.

 

Consistency Sought - 12 October

Royal Wootton Bassett Town boss Sam Collier has called for consistency from his side as they prepare to face Reading City in the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier division. Writes Matthew Davies in the Swindon Advertiser.

With five wins, five defeats and two draws so far this season, the Hellenic League Premier Division side certainly have room for improvement.

"Something we have lacked is consistency, If we want to do well we have to go on better runs than just back to back wins, good sides win games consistently and if can’t win they draw and that’s something we have to learn," Collier said. "Reading are expecting to win the league and anything other than that will be seen as a failure with the money they are spending.

"It will be a very difficult game but we have shown we can mix with the better sides in this league. We went to Wantage with a game plan and it worked until a poor decision from someone turned the game and cost us. I was massively proud of the lads and they shown great togetherness with nine men for 40 mins. But it’s another game where I feel we have given away three points.

"So far our home form has been very good this season which has been great, everyone enjoys coming to our ground so people raise their game as it’s the best ground in the league. It’s the away form which is concerning."

Josh Shama is unavailable for the game, while Brad Pagialrilo is ruled out with with a sore knee. Carl Evans returns after being away with the RAF Team.

 

Goalkeeper Quandry - 28 September

Despite struggling for a keeper, Royal Wootton Bassett Town boss Sam Collier says he will field the strongest side he can as they prepare for Tuffley Rovers in the Bluefin Sport Challenge Cup.

Bassett have won four times in their Hellenic League Premier Division fixtures and due to their domestic form, they sit fifth in the league table. Collier must now turn his attention to this weekend’s cup commitments and says he will not be taking the contest lightly.

“We want to try and win every game we play in therefore regardless of what competition we are in we will still be playing the strongest side we can,” he said in the Swindon Advertiser. “We have a core squad of 19 and they have all played there part so far, Its massively important that you have a decent size squad with good quality as someone is always away or out injured. We have had a very pleasing start to the season and if someone said to me we would be fifth after 10 games would I have taken it? Probably yes. I feel we have chucked away about seven to nine points already but I am sure every manager would think that, For how we have played fifth is about right. I still don’t think we have played anywhere near our best and even in the games we have won we haven’t been great.”

Swindon Supermarine goalkeeper Josh Hill suffered a long-term injury in the club’s 2-2 draw with Chippenham Town at the weekend. The knock-on effect means that Kev Sawyer, who has featured for Bassett, will now play for Marine, meaning Collier has to source a new goalkeeper. “We have made a seven-day approach for a player this week with regards to our ongoing keeper situation,” he added. “Kev Sawyer is now back at Marine as he played against Chippenham on Tuesday. Connor Thompson, who has been with us for last month, also played in that same game but for Chippenham and another player was called back to Hungerford for the FA Cup game with Wantage. So, all three keepers we currently have have been called up to FA Cup games. We will await to see which out of the three we can get back.”

 

Statement Made - 10 September

sam collier royla wootton bassett hellenic leagueRoyal Wootton Bassett boss Sam Collier believes his side made a statement by securing back-to-back League wins in the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division.

Given their recent run of League results and the calibre of opposition they came up against, Collier (pictured right) wants to see more belief from his troops.

“I’m delighted because that is back-to-back wins over two of the top sides,” said Collier speaking to Matthew Davies of the Swindon Advertiser. “Flackwell were organised and passed it well, but we were the better team. We scored quite early and we looked comfortable. They scored a goal against the run of play. We got in at half-time and I had a bit of a pop at the lads because I thought they were a little bit complacent. In the second half, we got out early and got the second goal. TJ (Bohane) showed good instincts to score a little header."

“We need to start believing in ourselves. We have players who have done well in this league and the league above. When we looked at the fixtures, we looked at the home games and we were hoping to get some points. If we did do that then great, but we managed to get maximum points."

 

Bassett Confirm First Team Management - 9 July

Royal Wootton Bassett Town are pleased to confirm that Sam Collier (manager), Drew Youngsam (assistant manager) and Rob Hopkins (head coach) will comprise its management team for the 2018-19 Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division campaign.

Collier took over as interim manager in January, with support provided by Hopkins, before being handed over the reins on a permanent basis at the end of last season. Youngsam, meanwhile, joins from local rivals Highworth Town where he served as assistant manager over the past three seasons, helping them lift the Wiltshire Senior Cup title in 2016-17 as well as achieve a third-place finish in 2017-18 that secured them promotion to the Southern League.

All three individuals have previously represented Bassett as players, and both Youngsam and Hopkins – who are UEFA B qualified coaches – have fulfilled coaching roles with the club in the past too. Youngsam was assistant manager to Jeff Roberts in 2013-14, while Hopkins provided support during Paul Burke's tenure as manager.

Bassett are already two weeks into their pre-season training programme, with their first friendly set to take place on Tuesday 10th July against Clanfield (7.30pm kick off, Gerard Buxton Sports Ground AGP).

The squad is coming together nicely too, with a solid mix of experience and youth expected to form its core.

 

Bassett Set To Gear Up For New Season - 20 June

Royal Wootton Bassett Town begin preparations for the 2018-19 season on Tuesday 26th June when senior section pre-season training gets under way.

Both the First and Development teams will be aiming to improve on their performances in 2017-18, when Sam Collier's side finished a disappointing 15th in the Hellenic League Premier Division and Paul Gerrish's Development outfit occupied a more respectable tenth place in the Wiltshire Senior League.

First team boss Collier has been busy in recent weeks, working the phones and meeting with potential recruits to help boost his squad.

The majority of players who finished the season with Bassett are set to again commit, while the manager is confident of securing the services of a series of players with Southern and Hellenic League experience.

After starting on the 26th, training will take place every Tuesday and Thursday in the lead up to the start of the Hellenic League campaign on Saturday 4th August.

Three friendlies have so far been organised. Bassett begin with a trip to Newbury on Friday 13th July. They then travel to Westbury United, Western League Division One champions last year, on Tuesday July 17th before hosting Hellenic League Division One West outfit New College two days later.

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