Steve Robertson (3), Steve Olphert
Royal Wootton Bassett Town may have flirted with throwing away a 3-0 lead, but Steve Robertson's hat-trick ensured a 4-2 victory against Abingdon United and a return to winning ways in the league.
Steve Robertson just can't stop scoring. And after nearly seeing a 3-0 advantage slip away on the road against Abingdon United, Royal Wootton Bassett Town are more than thankful for that as the frontman's third hat trick of the season – and his second this week - secured an anxiety inducing 4-2 triumph against the early season strugglers.
Ideally his three-timer would have been the focal point of this encounter. But Paul Braithwaite and his team will need to concentrate on how what should have been a comfortable triumph turned so quickly and, from the visitors' perspective, so disappointingly into a close run affair.
Bassett certainly weren't at their best on this afternoon. Yet, from the evidence of the first half, nor did they need to be. Abingdon's youthful side offered little end product in the opening period with Dom White labouring fruitlessly on his own up front. It appeared as though the Bassett back four were therefore set for an easy afternoon.
In addition to that lack of threat, the home side were also rash and undisciplined during the opening period, resulting in a trio of yellow cards being picked up for late challenges.
That combination allowed Bassett to cruise to a 2-0 half time lead.
They took the lead twenty minutes in thanks to a well worked goal. Nathan Hawkins sprayed a diagonal ball out to Dan Bailey on the right wing, and he burst past Cameron Hawtin before eventually squaring for Steve Olphert, who swept home with precision from twelve yards.
The midfielder's finish made up for an earlier miss when he squandered a one-on-one opportunity having made a clever run to latch onto a Robertson flick.
And when Robertson bagged his opening goal just before the half hour, he too made up for passing up an earlier chance that he snatched at.
As ever though, when he did find the net, he did so in some style. Olphert's deft header set him through, and after shrugging off the attentions of the last defender by cleverly shifting onto his right foot Robertson buried the ball into the bottom left corner from the edge of the area.
He could quickly have added the team's third and his second as he raced onto Harvey Scholes' defence splitting pass before rounding 'keeper Jack Griffiths, but his attempt to slot home from an angle was cleared off the line.
Despite that near miss, Bassett's two goal lead still seemed rather secure as the sides went into the break.
And, although starting shakily after the restart, the visitors bolstered it further after the hour when poor defending from the hosts allowed Robertson to slip in unnoticed, collect George Drewitt's clearance and blast beyond a helpless Griffiths.
However, Bassett soon found they had a game on their hands. Really Abingdon should have been dead and buried and offered no hope of salvaging something from a lost cause.
But the hosts, and in particular wingmen George Reid and Jordan Jeacock, sparked into life. Combined with a complacent approach to proceedings from Braithwaite's side as they appeared to go through the motions, the game's outcome was soon in doubt.
Arguably the warning signs early in the second period should have been heeded, but Robertson's strike only seemed to reinforce the sense that the points were in the bag.
How dangerous that was.
Adam Bowerman soon forced Curtis Meare into an uncomfortable parry, before, having survived a double Dan Bailey chance, Jamie Essex cut into the deficit with a glancing header from a corner.
With quarter of an hour to go he grabbed his second. Reid did the legwork, skipping down the right and taking on Dan Comer before squaring to his captain, who steered in confidently.
By now, you got the impression that the team who got the next goal would go on to win the game. And the way momentum had swung so heavily in favour of Abingdon, fear crept in that perhaps Bassett were about to capitulate completely.
They breathed a sigh of relief when Reid failed to find the target from range having cut in from the right and twisted his way past two challenges.
Eventually though, in the game's final minute, Robertson completed his hat trick to extinguish any concerns.
Again the goal came from a Drewitt clearance over the Abingdon defence, which Robertson charged down. Then, from an angle on the left edge of the box that he really had no permission to score from, he thrashed a low arrowed drive that bounced just in front of Griffiths, over the 'keeper's outstretched palm and into the opposite bottom corner.
Albeit way after they should have been, the points were finally safe.
Man of the Match: Steve Robertson – again Bassett were indebted to his lethal finishing abilities. All three of Robertson's goals were well taken, with the third, and most important, the pick of the bunch.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Saturday 19th September 2015 at 21:12
Steve Robertson (3), Steve Olphert