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HELLENIC LEAGUE: Turner's boys the best in the West (and the Prem)
ON THE brink of promotion from Division One West, Wootton Bassett are undoubtedly on a general upward curve and manager Dave Turner reckons his team are as good as any locally in the Hellenic League.
Highworth and Shrivenham might be in a higher division in the Hellenic Premier but with both struggling and Bassett looking almost certain to go up, Turner says the Rylands Way side can call themselves the equal of both.
Turner made the comments after Bassett defeated visitors Old Woodstock 3-1 on Saturday, giving them a 13-point cushion on fourth-placed Tytherington, the side best-placed to steal second spot.
"The hardcore of this team have been together for four or five years and some of them are still only 23," said Turner.
"They have their best years in front of them and the bulk of them could be together another five years if they want.
"When I took over Highworth were the number one team and Shrivenham were the number two team, but I genuinely believe we're on a par with them now.
"What we have done in the last four or five years has been tremendous and the players take the credit. We've gone farther than ever in two national competitions (FA Cup and FA Vase) and achieved two promotions and gone to a Wilts Senior Cup semi-final.
"We don't compare ourselves to Supermarine because they are the best non-league club in Swindon, but as far as the Hellenic sides go, we're the team in the ascendancy."
On Saturday, Liam Edmondson gave Bassett the lead against Old Woodstock, but Danny Green headed in the equaliser before the break.
However, Tom Dingle restored the advantage in the 55th minute and then added another shortly after to make sure of the victory.
For Turner, it was the proverbial game of two halves.
"I was very disappointed in the first-half performance," he said.
"We came out nice and early and did all our normal preparation and they only had seven players warming up, and not warming up particularly well. I had 16 players out there doing it as we always do.
"I think that the players saw six or seven of them going through the motions or just chatting had an adverse effect - in the first half we thought it was going to be easy.
"I tried to warn them before they went out and although it was 1-1 at half-time it really should have been 0-0.
"At half-time we had a few words and I told the players that the one thing Oxford sides do is they always battle, and if we matched them then we'd win the game.
"We upped our game in the second half and created five or six really good chances. We were certainly worth 3-1 if not more.
"We had another 15 or 20 per cent to give and that's what we did in the second half."
Brimscombe's 6-0 trouncing of rock-bottom Malmesbury ensured Bassett did not gain any ground on the league leaders, and the gap remains at six points.
However, Bassett still have a game in hand and Turner said: "We have to be professional to the last game and make sure we keep the pressure on Brimscombe, and if they slip then we'll be in a position to capitalise.
"It would be criminal if we didn't and I think we have the calibre of people to do that. Our form has been pretty steady this season."