Friday 12th July 2019
Royal Wootton Bassett Town are set to face new opponents and local rivals in the FA Cup and FA Vase this season as the draws for the early rounds of both competitions were announced.
In the Emirates FA Cup, Bassett have been handed a home tie against Aylesbury Vale Dynamos in the extra preliminary round. It will be the third year in a row that Bassett have been paired with Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division opposition. Last season Sam Collier's team triumphed on their travels away against Leighton Town, having been beaten at home by Crawley Green the season before.
It will be tough to gauge what to expect from Aylesbury Vale, who were formed following a merger between Aylesbury and Bedgrove Dynamos in the summer, when they visit the Gerard Buxton Sports ground on Saturday 10th August.
After nine seasons at step four, Aylesbury were relegated to step five at the end of 2018-19 after finishing second from bottom in the Southern League Division One Central. It marked the third successive year in which they finished in the lower reaches of that division.
However, they do boast decent FA Cup pedigree. In 2008-09 they saw off Highworth Town in the extra preliminary round before recording two more victories to reach the second qualifying round. A year later, when they finished as champions of the Spartan South Midlands League Premier, they ventured as far as the fourth qualifying round, where they suffered a narrow 4-2 loss at home against Wealdstone.
Since then they have reached the first qualifying round on four occasions, the most recent being two seasons ago after a preliminary round triumph against Cirencester Town. Last year they were eliminated in a preliminary round replay by Didcot Town.
Should Bassett prevail they will have another home tie and reacquaint themselves with North Leigh, a side who they last met in the 2004-05 season, on Saturday 24th August.
Bassett were relegated from the Hellenic League Premier Division that year, while North Leigh finished seventh. Three seasons later, the Oxfordshire side were promoted to the Southern League, where they have been playing ever since. Last year they were involved in a relegation battle with Aylesbury in Division One Central, ultimately surviving by virtue of a seventeenth place finish.
2018-19 was a difficult year for the Millers on the cup front too, as they suffered a preliminary round FA Cup loss against Hanwell Town and were also eliminated at the first hurdle in the FA Trophy.
It's not that long since they reached the final qualifying round though, doing so in 2016-17 before losing away at National League Eastleigh. They made the third qualifying round the year before, a stage they also advanced to in 2012-13 and 2004-05.
Overall, Bassett's league record against North Leigh is not a great one. Excluding games against their Reserve team (who Bassett met when playing in Division One West), they met sixteen times when Hellenic League opponents, with North Leigh triumphing on ten occasions and Bassett only twice. Four games ended in draws, including their last meeting in February 2005, which finished 2-2.
Emirates FA Cup Extra Preliminary round: Royal Wootton Bassett Town v Aylesbury Vale Dynamos (Saturday 10th August 2019)
Emirates FA Cup Preliminary round: Royal Wootton Bassett Town or Aylesbury Vale Dynamos v North Leigh (Saturday 24th August 2019)
Having opened the Buildbase FA Vase with home games in each of the past four season, Bassett will be on their travels in the first qualifying round in 2019-20. However, they won't have far to go, having been paired with near neighbours New College.
The past couple of years have been a struggle for the Collegians, who finished bottom of Hellenic League Division One West last term, having been a place off the basement a season before.
Their last two participations in the FA Vase have also seen record double digit defeats. In 2017-18 they were thumped 10-0 at home by Ampthill Town (who Bassett defeated two rounds later). Meanwhile, last season they lost 14-1 away against Baffins Milton Rovers.
Their only victory in the competition came in 2014-15, when they prevailed in a first qualifying round replay against Fleet Spurs.
Bassett should therefore go into the contest as heavy favourites. But they have been upset by New College in the past, losing their first ever meeting in Hellenic League Division One West 5-2 at Rylands Way in December 2011.
The first qualifying round tie will take place on Saturday 31st August.
The winners of that tie will then visit Hampshire to take on Wessex League Premier Division outfit Tadley Calleva in the second qualifying round on Saturday 14th September.
Historically, Bassett have found the going difficult when playing Wessex League sides. And should they get to face the Tadders, they will no doubt represent tough opponents.
Last season, their first in the Premier Division after securing promotion from Division One in 2017-18, Tadley finished eighth and defeated Hellenic League opposition in the form of Ascot United in the FA Vase. They were beaten 1-0 at home in the second qualifying round by the eventual winners Chertsey Town. (The omens would therefore be good if Bassett were to meet and defeat Tadley…).
Playing in the competition since 2008-09, their best FA Vase run came in 2015-16 when they reached the third round, losing Newport (Isle of Wight) in a replay.
In five FA Cup participations, Tadley have failed to record a victory, though they did advance to the preliminary round in 2013-14 after their extra preliminary round conquerors Ascot were removed from the competition. Two seasons ago, the Tadders were beaten 2-1 in the competition by Bassett's local rivals Highworth.
Buildbase FA Vase First Qualifying round: New College v Royal Wootton Bassett Town (Saturday 31st August 2019)
Buildbase FA Vase Second Qualifying round: Tadley Calleva v New College or Royal Wootton Bassett Town (Saturday 14th September 2019)Last modified on Friday 12th July 2019 at 14:30.