The Whites claimed a fine point against high-flying Royal Wootton Bassett Town thanks to a rousing second-half recovery and a brilliant late penalty save from Max.
A four-week break over Christmas left the home side looking rather rusty before the interval and the fast-breaking, hard-working visitors could count themselves unfortunate not to be more than a single goal ahead at half-time. By comparison, the Colts were static in and out of possession and were on the back foot for long periods.
They survived a number of goalmouth scrambles, with Tom making several telling blocks and clearances, and Bassett’s lively attack was frustrated by an offside flag three times as they tried to find a way past a tigrish defensive unit of Josh, Bradley and Luke VDB. Matthew’s strong running from deep brought about the Colts’ best chances on a heavy surface and he was denied by the keeper after a great exchange with Callum, who himself put a shot wide from the left side of the box.
Bassett deservedly opened the scoring not long before the break when the Colts defence found themselves facing a 3v3 situation and their striker stabbed the ball home at the second attempt after initially being thwarted by Max’s excellent reflex stop.
Crucially, the Colts avoided conceding again despite a couple of dangerous set-pieces and went on to gain much more of a foothold in the game going down the slope in the second period.
Liam F began to exert an influence on proceedings out wide and tackles across the pitch started to carry more weight. Matthew saw a curling shot towards an unguarded net headed behind for a corner by the Bassett defence and Callum forced a brave stop from the advancing keeper.
The Colts reverted to a more attacking formation for the final 15 minutes, with Brandon H joining the frontline, and it paid dividends when Toby found space in a crowded midfield and threaded a superb pass through to Matthew, who crashed his shot high into the net.
The drama was not over, however, and as Bassett fought back, both Bradley and Josh needed to be on top form. The Colts thought they had gone in front when George skipped past the keeper and rolled the ball towards the empty net, but a covering defender managed to hook his shot off the line. Play then switched to the other end of the pitch, where Bassett were awarded a spot-kick for a foul inside the box.
Max saved the well-struck penalty with his legs, however, and then watched on gratefully as the striker crashed the rebound against a post. There were a couple of further scares for the Colts in the final five minutes, but they were determined to cling on to their share of the spoils and, after doing so, enter a run of five straight away matches with confidence that they can match any side in the division on their day.