Bassett aiming high

Wednesday 31 July 2019 - by Stuart Smedley (Updated on 31 July 2019 at 10:16)

The 2018-19 season was Royal Wootton Bassett Town's twelfth playing in the Hellenic League Premier Division. And it was also the first time that they avoided a bottom half finish.

However, by virtue of ending up tenth out of nineteen teams, they still failed to crack the top half of the table.

A middling run following the turn of the year – a familiar theme in recent seasons - was the reason behind that failure as just four extra points would have seen Sam Collier's team wind up eighth.

Given that situation, you would think that the goal for the 2019-20 campaign would be to finally break into the top half; anything extra would be an added bonus.

But this year Bassett are aiming higher.

Collier and his assistant Matt Bulman will not just be content with, say, sixth or seventh place. Instead, they are aiming for the top positions in this year's Hellenic League Premier Division.

And with extra promotion places available at the end of this season due to the latest restructuring of the non-league system, they will be hoping that Bassett will be in the mix for one of those spots.

It is a lofty ambition. Yet, based on Bassett's summer recruitment and, similar to 2018-19, the likely competitive nature of the division, why not be bold?

Bassett's attack in particular has the potential to cause plenty of problems for opposing defences.

Last season's leading scorer TJ Bohane may have departed for Highworth Town. But with the retention of eighteen-goal Brad Pagliaroli, and the additions of Callum Parsons, Danny Langford and youngster Rhys Talmash, Collier has multiple dangerous frontmen at his disposal.

It would be unfair simply to concentrate on his attacking signings though, as the Bassett boss has, on paper, improved his side across the pitch.

Central midfielders Jonny Davoile and Callum Wright, who arrive from Wantage Town, bring title-winning know-how. Meanwhile, promising talent Alfie Presley will inject extra creativity in wide areas.

Experience and youthful vigour have been added at the back too. Centre half Tom Cole brings the former, while full backs Tinashe Gwavava and Tyron Leigh and central defender Zak Eadle provide the latter. '

Keeper Declan Lehmann, signed on a season-long loan from Chippenham Town, will also ensure consistency and security in the last line of defence, something that was missing in 2018-19.

There's plenty of strength in depth – and competition for places - too, with the majority of last season's side re-signing and defender Chris Jackson returning after a year with Shrivenham.

Performances in preseason have been strong, reflecting both the quality in the squad and the recognition on behalf of the players that every place has to be earned.

Bassett began with a 3-3 draw against Radstock Town, conceding twice late on after a number of substitutions, having held a commanding 3-1 lead.

Eight goals without reply were then put past Wiltshire County League side Cricklade Town before an outstanding display away against Southern League Cirencester Town sealed a hugely impressive – and improbable – 7-2 triumph.

Another away trip to Western League Bradford Town saw Bassett demonstrate their resilience. After going 2-0 behind, they proceeded to score three unanswered second half goals to take the victory.

Playing against National League South Chippenham Town – in a family affair for Sam Collier and his father Mark, the Bluebirds' boss – Bassett gave a solid account of themselves, ultimately falling to a 2-0 loss.

They then drew their final tune-up fixture – a tempestuous affair against Forest Green Rovers Under 18s – 2-2.

Bassett have shown much promise this summer. Now that needs to translate into the season proper if they are to fulfil the lofty targets they have set.

Recent Headlines

This month

Soccer Skills Academy and Footy Tots – free taster sessions available (09/02)

Bassett storm past Cleeve with Impressive second half treble (08/02)

January Youth Section Player of the Month - Sam McGeoch (02/02)

Comeback specialists do it again (02/02)

Scrappy contest ends in loss (01/02)

Older

Dramatic comeback sends Bassett into third County Cup final in a row (26/01)

Slow start spells defeat as Brimscombe exact revenge (25/01)

RWBTFC Ladies Team of the Decade (16/01)

Veterans set for latest RAF meeting (13/01)

Soccer Skills Academy February Holiday Camp (12/01)

Eagles preys on Gulls in routine Ladies win (12/01)

Brad back with a bang as Bassett do the double over Levens (11/01)

Bad day at the office spells defeat (05/01)

Bassett push leaders all the way in narrow defeat (04/01)

A win for all ages (28/12)

RWBTFC Team of the Decade (28/12)

Mid-season review: a tale of mixed fortunes (23/12)

December Youth Section Player of the Month – Thomas Cooper (19/12)

RWBTFC to host Wiltshire Premier Shield semi final (17/12)

Free Saturday Skills and SSE Wildcats Girls' Football Sessions (17/12)

Ruthless Waters expose Bassett’s frailties (14/12)

National Representative honours for Ladies’ Smith (11/12)

Under 12 Whites off the mark (11/12)

Two more Parents' Workshops this week (09/12)

Defence make their case in complete performance (07/12)

Veterans to do battle with Army Masters (01/12)

Sports Association seek bar staff (01/12)

Late drama as comeback takes Ladies to the top (01/12)

Seven up as Bassett finally double up (30/11)

Under 12 Blues experience first win of the season! (27/11)

Quality victory ends home hex (23/11)

Noah helps Under 13 Blues sail to win (20/11)

Derby disappointment continues (19/11)

Lucky thirteen as Ladies cruise past Melksham (17/11)

Soccer Skills Academy Christmas Tournament Day (16/11)

First team assistant manager to run London Marathon (13/11)

Personalised club merchandise (13/11)

November Bingo Fundraiser (11/11)

Race Night Fundraiser (10/11)

All tied at the top (10/11)

Home hurt continues (09/11)

Cup quarter final exits for Under 16 and 18 Yellows (07/11)

Patient Bassett bide their time to beat Bideford (03/11)

First half misery condemns Bassett to heavy defeat (02/11)

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Ladies survive Keynsham scare in game of two halves (27/10)

Out of luck (26/10)

Under 16 Yellows keep rolling (23/10)

Bassett Tuff out a draw (22/10)

Ladies net seven in Devon (20/10)