Trowbridge Road, 30th August 2014
An impressive performance capped by a stunning 30 yard from James Skinner was not enough for Wootton Bassett Town as their hopes of a trip to Southern League Poole Town were dashed by Bradford Town, who prevailed 2-1 in an entertaining FA Cup Preliminary round tie.
Coming in the game's final minute with Bassett trailing by two goals, Skinner's surging run and low, rasping drive ultimately arrived too late. Paul Braithwaite's team were therefore left cursing two avoidable goals conceded in the opening half – the second a real sucker punch that came seconds before the interval – that followed Bassett being caught in possession and hit on the break.
That allowed Bradford, who had otherwise seen their potent attack kept in check, to take a commanding lead despite never clearly outclassing the visitors.
A trio of early chances had fallen their way, with Mark Wall blasting over, Joe Stradling hitting straight at Ben Mitchell and Stradling then seeing a shot struck across goal from a very tight angle tipped around the post by Mitchell.
Yet, after shaking off their early nerves and seeing Bradford spurn those opportunities, Bassett began to set the tone. In the centre of midfield, Skinner, Steve Yeardley and Shaun Terry were enjoying time on the ball, while right winger Lewis Chatwin was in particular enjoying a fruitful day, his dangerous pace giving full back Mike Reaney something to think about.
On the half hour, following an interchange of passes with Dan Bailey in the right corner, Chatwin's low cross forced a snatched clearance that fell to an unmarked Yeardley on the edge of the box. Quickly swivelling to shoot, the Bassett skipper fired a low left-footed shot inches wide of the right post.
Almost instantly though Bassett were pegged back when Terry was dispossessed and a quick ball played over the defence allowed Wall, timing his inside run from the left wing perfectly, to curl exquisitely into the top corner from twenty yards.
Bassett continued to push, with Chatwin striking from range and stinging the palms of Ed Baldy. Yet their desire to get forward was again punished as half time approached. Bailey was this time the one caught out, taking one too many touches before losing the ball at the halfway line. Wall then took over, slaloming forward and cutting inside Richie Carter before emphatically slamming beyond Mitchell.
Bassett had been by no means two goals worse than the hosts. Instead they had simply been shown how clinical teams at this level are in taking advantage of mistakes.
Recovering from such a deficit was by no means beyond them, and they came out strongly after the restart. Five minutes into the second period they had a good call for a penalty turned down when Dale Richards was sent tumbling by Josh Brigham, however the referee was unmoved.
That could have been costly as play transitioned to the other end, but a Scott Walduck block diverted Wall's flicked header wide.
Chasing the game, Bassett began to tire. However, Bradford were unable to take advantage of this, with the prolific Sam Jordan – brought on as a half time substitute – appearing out of sorts and the visiting defence giving no inch.
The deficit was almost midway through the period when Terry floated a cross into Bailey and his strike from an angle, aimed at the opposite corner, was blocked on the line by Reaney.
They were left to wait until the game's final minute to eventually cut into Bradford's lead. Receiving a pass from the right, Skinner turned before purposefully striding forward. After fending off a challenge while managing to retain possession, he perfectly picked out the bottom corner from thirty yards, driving a powerful left-footed shot beyond Baldy.
It was a goal worthy of more than mere consolation. Without either of those two avoidable first half goals from the hosts, a trip to the seaside could still have been on the cards.
Man of the Match: George Drewitt – the centre half continued his strong start to the campaign with another controlled, commanding performance that helped limit Bradford's powerful attack.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38