S Robertson (3)
Scours Lane, 14th February 2015
Another week, another important 3-1 victory for Wootton Bassett Town.
Paul Braithwaite's team have now triumphed by that score against sides in three of their last five league fixtures, with those triumphs coming against sides in and around them in the bottom half of the Hellenic League Premier Division.
This time Reading Town were the victims, falling to a fine Steve Robertson hat-trick, with the in-form forward's two late goals swinging Bassett's penultimate away fixture in their favour.
While his deadly finishing may have made the vital difference on the scoresheet though, it was an all-round battling Bassett display that proved crucial.
The absence of Dale Richards and James Skinner meant there was an unfamiliar look to the visitors' back line, especially given that Nathan Gambling was utilised as a makeshift left back. But Gambling, operating in unfamiliar territory at the other end of the pitch, did superbly despite arguably having the toughest task of all against the speedy and skilful Sam Bangura.
Across the midfield Bassett worked relentlessly, although there were some hiccups when trying to overplay on a heavy pitch. Then up front Tyler Sheppard proved a menace to the Reading backline in the second half, helping force errors that proved crucial in teeing up Robertson.
‘Keeper Luke Kuczynski, continuing to justify his promotion from the reserves, produced another solid performance as well. He made a handful of firm saves, starting with one in the game's twelfth minute when he diverted Bangura's low drive from a tight angle around the post after the winger had juked past Gambling and then George Drewitt.
He was soon involved in a close penalty call when Bangura went tumbling when trying to round the Bassett stopper, but correctly no penalty was awarded. Then on the half hour mark a strong fist sent a stinging Kensley Maloney shot over the bar.
Having survived that passage of pressure from Reading, Bassett then went ahead. From the middle of the park, Henry Traas' played a lofted reverse ball forward that flat-footed home centre half Chris Fabianczyk headed on into the path of Robertson. Assuming possession with just Nathan Silver to beat, the forward made no mistake, taking one touch to steady himself before emphatically burying beyond the Reading ‘keeper.
That lead lasted all of seven minutes though as the hosts made Bassett pay for their frustratingly persistent wish to turn with the ball on a chewed up surface. Sheppard was the guilty partner, being robbed of possession deep inside his own half. The ball was eventually worked to Liam Ferdinand, who rolled Drewitt on the edge of the box before arrowing a low strike beyond Kuczynski with the help of the right post.
Prior to the break Silver prevented Robertson from restoring Bassett's advantage with a near post save, and on the balance of play it was arguably fair that the teams went into the interval with nothing separating them.
Once play resumed, the midfield struggle initially continued, with the only chance before the hour falling to Reading's Danny Horscroft, who saw his long range drive batted wide by Kuczynski.
Slowly, however, Bassett gained the upper hand as Reading legs began to get weary. Playing in such conditions, tiredness was always going to be a factor at some stage and the pressure that their visitors began to assert served only to make things worse.
A surging run from Robertson down the left stretched the home defence on 63 minutes, but Callum Wright failed to capitalise, steering his shot from his teammate's cut back over with the help of a deflection.
Wright misfired again soon after as Robertson sent another low cross into the box and Hugo Vivash teed up the central midfielder.
Clever thinking from Wright then deserved better as he played a quick free kick to an unmarked Robertson, but the forward rushed his effort, skewing wide. Traas was the next Bassett player to be let down by his finishing, spooning a shot over from just inside the area after driving inside from the right wing.
Eventually a second goal did arrive.
With ten minutes left, heavy pressing inside the Reading half forced an errant square pass that Robertson jumped onto. His through ball slipped in Sheppard, who drove into the box before cutting a pass across the six yard box where Robertson slid in to score.
Robertson then almost immediately returned the favour, picking out an unmarked Sheppard in the box, but the ball got stuck in his strike partner's feet, allowing a defender to get back and deflect a shot wide.
However, no mistake was made by Robertson with just four minutes to go as he wrapped up his hat-trick. Jumping on another misplaced pass, he broke down the middle of the pitch, played a neat give-and-go with Sheppard on the edge of the area and prodded beyond Silver into the bottom left corner.
There was still time for a desperate late rally from Reading, but Kuczynski dived low to keep out a Horscroft free kick before Steve Yeardley acrobatically diverted a blasted Chris Ferdinand effort wide.
Had either of those gone in, it still wouldn't have been enough for Reading as Bassett's spirited display had sealed the points.
After another positive stride taken on the road, it's now time for Bassett – with just one away fixture remaining - to take control of the home advantage they have for the remainder of the season.
Man of the Match: Steve Robertson – the forward's ruthlessness in front of goal brought him a deserved hat-trick, while his movement with and without the ball in the second half helped tire out an already flagging Reading defence.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:39
S Robertson (3)