Wootton Bassett Town's Challenge Cup first round tie with Premier Division high-flyers Slimbridge finally got played and despite a resilient display, Bassett couldn't overcome their superior opposition, going down 4-1.
The scoreline flattered the visitors, who were at full strength despite their upcoming FA Vase tie at home to Whitley Bay – a game which if won will see them progress to the quarter final stage of the aforementioned competition. Leading 2-1 with two minutes left, substitute Will Morford fired a quick brace to finish the scoring.
The visitors looked as though they would run away with the game as they converted the first two chances of the game into goals. On 7 minutes Robbie Colwell emphatically blasted home on the turn after taking only one touch to bring the ball under control.
Four minutes later Kacey Johnstone slipped in front of Rich Gee to easily head home a brilliant placed James Cole cross from the halfway line.
The Gloucestershire side continued to threaten with the ball never seeming to leave the Bassett half. On the odd occasion it did, stout defending from perhaps the best step five side in the country saw the ball quickly guided back towards Adam Miller's goal.
After Jonny Meadows volleyed just wide, the young 'keeper who has recently been on trial at Swindon Town pulled off a fantastic save to deny Colwell. The forward ran onto Mike Green's ball over the top and shot from 15-yards but the 16 year old pulled off a fine point blank save to avert the ball wide.
On 32 minutes Green wasted a great opportunity as he fired over from the edge of the box whilst unmarked following a cutback pass from Alton Axton.
Bassett's first chance of the game came four minutes before the break and it was a half chance at that. An outstretched Chris Mills struck the ball on the volley which forced a tipped save from Ryan Chandler before the 'keeper comfortably recovered the loose ball.
A minute later Miller was at it again, parrying away at the feet of Colwell after the forward once again beat the Bassett offside trap.
After already seeing one wonder goal from Colwell, the fans that braved the cold witnessed an even better one two minutes after the restart, giving the Barmy Army something to make noise about. Adam Greaney's crossfield ball into the right corner was controlled by Matty Bennett before the forward unleashed a thunderous strike from beyond 25-yards. The ball was struck perfectly and an overstretched Chandler could do nothing but watch the ball fly into the top left corner.
A minute later Bennett came close to getting his side level again with another adventurous effort. Noticing Chandler had left his line, Bennett tried to lob the 'keeper from 20-yards. Chandler was beat but Bennett had gotten underneath the ball a bit too much and it bounced back into play off the top of the crossbar.
Danny Heath replaced an injured Greaney on 54 minutes after the defender had gone over on his ankle on a pitch which had no give due to the frigid conditions.
Just before the hour Meadows should have put the lead back up to two but blasted over after good build up play from Colwell and Craig Cole had opened up the Bassett defence.
Paul Crabtree then replaced Chris Mills before Nathan Hall squandered a good chance for the hosts. Racing onto Bennett's flick, Hall struck a 20-yard effort inches wide of the left post.
Colwell was then once again denied by Miller after beating two before Morford's glancing header rolled across the face of goal.
Bassett lost another defender seventeen minutes from time when Rich Gee had to be replaced by Jack Dodd.
With Bassett pushing for an equaliser it was inevitable there would be chances for Slimbridge towards the close of the game and twice they caught Bassett out.
With two minutes left Morford slotted coolly into the bottom left corner after chasing down a flick on before leaving Miller with no chance as he buried the ball home from 15 yards.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Matty Bennett – scored one of the goals of the season with his 47th minute strike and was unlucky not to add another one. With the ball at his feet, Bennett showed why he is more than capable of competing at the higher level.
Scoop Rating: 7/10 – Despite the scoreline, there were never three goals in it and Bassett certainly didn't disgrace themselves with a weakened team against a side who are streets ahead of most Hellenic Premier sides. Slimbridge did coax at times but that was inevitable due to their upcoming Vase tie but they did have a nearly full strength side which makes Bassett's showing pretty impressive.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Monday 21st September 2020 at 09:17