Steve Robertson (2)
Royal Wootton Bassett's unbeaten league start came to a crushing end as they suffered a heavy 7-2 defeat at reigning champions Flackwell Heath.
Twenty torturous second half minutes set the stage for a crushing defeat for Royal Wootton Bassett Town as Flackwell Heath's four goal salvo in that period helped the classy reigning champions on their way to a 7-2 victory.
That spell, in which the Buckinghamshire outfit ruthlessly exploited the left side of Bassett's defence, ensured it was a country mile separating the teams at full time, rather than the width of a cigarette paper which could have been placed between the sides an hour earlier at the culmination of the game's opening period.
At the stage Flackwell held a slender 2-1 advantage, an entertaining and relatively even opening period having produced opportunities at both ends.
The Heathens were their typical selves, seeking to switch play at every available opportunity to bring dangerous wingers Dan Rapley and Seb Bowerman into the fray, with frontman Dan Burnell lurking between the lines to try and drag the Bassett defence out of shape.
Largely though the visitors coped with what their opponents threw at them. Indeed, were it not for two instances of Bassett's defence switching off, and with a bit more luck for frontman Steve Robertson, it could even have been the visitors who went into the break in front. Saying that is pure conjecture though, and likely wouldn't have prevented the battering Bassett later took.
In the game's fourth minute, home 'keeper Dan Weait, attempting to deal with a woeful James Tripp backpass by sidestepping a pressing Sam Packer, presented Robertson with an open goal, but the forward blazed over from the edge of the area.
Minutes later the hosts were in front. Receiving Joel Jacobs' short corner, Dan Burnell curled a low effort towards the far right corner, where Chris Hurst – his run unchecked - was on hand to ensure the ball wound up in the back of the net.
However, after surviving a brief period of Flackwell dominance in which Curtis Meare expertly repelled a rasping Liam Tack drive, Bassett soon restored parity.
Seizing on the Heathens' failure to clear from a throw deep in their territory, Dane Moulden stole possession on the edge of the box. Showing some quick feet, he shuffled the ball out to Robertson, who thrashed a stunning left foot drive from an angle into the roof of the net.
Having survived scares as Rapley flashed an instinctive strike across the face of goal and Hurst snatched at a header from close range, it appeared as though Bassett were on course to go into the break on level terms.
Another lapse in concentration put paid to that though. When the majority of the home side went up appealing for a penalty for an alleged Adam Corcoran handball, the Bassett defence stopped in their tracks. Hurst didn't though, and from a narrow angle on the right he arrowed into opposite corner.
While disappointing to be behind, there were plenty of positives Paul Braithwaite's team could take from their performance in the opening period.
How quickly that was undone, however. Flackwell's decision to swap Rapley, perhaps the Hellenic League's preeminent performer, from the left wing to the right proved inspired and paid immediate dividends.
Within three minutes he had the ball in the back of the net. Burnell clipped a through pass into the right channel for Rapley to run onto as he breezed beyond Dale Richards. Initially it appeared as though the winger would not make it, but, outstretched, he was able to guide home beyond Meare.
That sparked a goal-rush.
With 55 minutes on the clock, Rapley and Burnell exchanged passes to unlock room in the right corner and the former cut back for the onrushing Mitchell Woodward to steer in for the hosts' fourth.
Flackwell's tally for the afternoon soon became five: Rapley whipped in a cross from the right, which Corcoran was unfortunate to slice into his own net.
Their sixth then came from a lightning fast counter. Kalum Youngsam had got in behind the Flackwell defence only to see Weait smother at his feet. Less than thirty seconds later, play was at the other end, Hurst racing through the middle, rounding Meare and slotting home.
Robertson stemmed the bleeding with quarter of an hour to go, diverting Packer's mishit long range drive beyond Weait.
But Burnell made certain that his side's margin of victory was five, scoring with an outrageous arcing chip from 25 yards after having shrugged off the attentions of Moulden.
Man of the Match: Sam Packer – his displays so far this season have been positive and this one was no different for the creative midfielder. It was playing through Packer, wise and clever on the ball, that Bassett appeared to threaten most.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Sunday 23rd August 2015 at 11:21
Steve Robertson (2)