Royal Wootton Bassett Town suffered an early FA Cup exit as they were defeated 2-0 by Bracknell Town in a lifeless Extra Preliminary Round tie.
What a difference the presence of a prolific centre forward can make.
In an FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tie that never really sparked into life, Bracknell Town progressed at the expense of Royal Wootton Bassett Town courtesy of a brace from Robins' sharpshooter Shane Cooper-Clark.
A 36 goal man last season, the Bracknell forward demonstrated his clinical ways to decide the outcome of a tie between two teams who were relatively evenly matched.
Cooper-Clark decisively dispatched the game's opening opportunity midway through the first period before drawing a mistake from home 'keeper Curtis Meare with a long range strike to double Bracknell's advantage shortly after the interval.
Bassett, on the other hand, were let to bemoan the absence of their own chief goal-getters, Steve Robertson and the suspended Nathan Gambling. Without them, Paul Braithwaite's team offered little offensively and subsequently never really looked like scoring.
While both will soon return and hopefully pick up from where they left off last year, a more general fix required is to start playing with more urgency before it's too late. Not until the game's final twenty minutes did Bassett start to chase the game, with the belated introduction of Ryan Thomas sparking some much needed life into an otherwise flat performance.
Even then though, late pressure failed to translate into the required breakthrough that would have posed the threat of a replay at Larges Lane.
Instead, Bassett have to live with an early exit from a competition they have done so well in over the last few seasons.
It was a defensive mistake that created the chance for Cooper-Clark's opener. Too slow to react to a loose ball just outside the area, Bassett allowed tricky winger Ebenezer Opoku-Ware to seize possession unchallenged.
He skipped past George Drewitt before feeding Cooper-Clark with a slide rule pass. Requiring a touch to get the ball out of his feet, the forward then arrowed a low strike, with the help of a slight deflection, into the bottom left corner.
Moments later, Cooper-Clark beat the offside trap but dragged wide, his usual predatory instincts fortunately failing him.
Only once did the hosts come close as the uninspiring first half slowly meandered its way towards its conclusion. A Sam Packer switch stretched the Bracknell defence, and Dan Comer's cross proved just out of reach of an unmarked Kalum Youngsam in the middle.
The danger wasn't fully averted as Dan Bailey did well to keep the ball in play. Tyler Sheppard then cut back for Packer, whose effort with the outside of his right boot skewed narrowly over.
Too often Bassett were unwilling to pull the trigger when in advanced positions, choosing instead to shift the ball around more to try and work a better angle through the visiting defence.
That tendency did not afflict Bracknell, however.
Three minutes after the restart a swift counter eventually saw the ball worked to Cooper-Clark in the left channel. With a sight of goal, he fired low from thirty yards. Meare, perhaps not expecting a shot from that range, was caught unprepared and, crossed-up, his attempted block near the left post served only to send the ball squirming over the line.
It was the type of mistake that all 'keepers at some point make, and Meare redeemed himself later on getting down low to fist away Sean Hanley's daisy-cutter before quickly reacting to smother at the feet of Ware.
At the other end, Gary Aulsberry was finally brought into action, dramatically parrying away a Harvey Scholes blast before pulling off an equally acrobatic save to turn a Thomas curler around the post. His day, however, was otherwise a rather relaxed one.
Late on, Bassett's frustrating day took a further turn for the worse as Drewitt, making his first appearance of the season after completing a suspension, was dismissed for a second yellow following a late challenge. He'll therefore be absent for another game in a couple of weeks' time.
On this day though, it was the lack of a goal threat - and Bracknell's possession of one - that left Bassett cursing an early cup exit.
Man of the Match: Dan Comer – went about his business at right back efficiently once more, continuing his positive start to the campaign.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Saturday 15th August 2015 at 19:47