Steve Robertson (2), Steve Olphert
Royal Wootton Bassett booked a place in the second round of the Wiltshire Senior Cup with a 3-1 victory against County League opponents Ludgershall Sports.
It may have taken a cheap penalty twenty minutes from time for Royal Wootton Bassett Town to finally separate themselves from the tricky challenge posed by County League Ludgershall Sports. But Steve Olphert's successful conversion and an additional strike late on from Steve Robertson – his second of the game - eventually sealed a 3-1 victory and passage through to the second round of the Wiltshire Senior Cup.
Bassett certainly weren't at their best as they encountered opponents from two levels below them on the football pyramid. However, while a commanding performance would have been preferable to instil a greater level of confidence ahead of a testing run of league games, this County Cup contest was more about ensuring an embarrassing early exit was avoided.
A slow start aside, Robertson's opener after eleven minutes offered hope that his team wouldn't face as much trouble as they did in seeing off Malmesbury Victoria and Wroughton in the competition last year.
Moments after Ryan Thomas had struck the inside of the right upright and seen the ball trickle agonisingly across the face of goal, Robertson, receiving a throw in and cutting in from the right, put the hosts ahead with a powerful low drive inside the near post.
Ludgershall, who put in an impressive display, were back on level terms within quarter of an hour though. Having forced a corner after a counter in which the Bassett defence was outnumbered, the visitors exposed their hosts' weaknesses from set pieces. Stephen Witt's delivery to the far post was re-directed across goal by Alan Jordan and Sam Walsh flicked a header in from close range.
Bassett's response to the equaliser was muted, with Robertson, Thomas and Steve Yeardley all passing up chances before the interval. The best fell to Yeardley, but, rushing in to connect with a low Thomas cross, he skewed his first time attempt wide from twelve yards.
That opportunity came after Ludgershall had spurned their own great chance to edge ahead. Outmuscling Adam Corcoran to latch onto Luke Bates' ball into the left channel, David Cotter bore down on goal before shooting into the side netting from a tight angle while one-on-one with Luke Kuczynski.
Despite that miss, the visitors were a happy bunch headed into the break. Bassett, on the other hand, were not. A half time wake-up call initially failed to spark Paul Braithwaite's team into life though.
They continued to lack ideas, dwelling on the ball too long rather than moving it with the necessary speed to pick open their opponents.
Early after the restart they were limited to shots from distance from Dan Comer and Thomas, while Robertson was able to round 'keeper Darren Leach, but from an extremely tight angle could only find the side netting.
Eventually they were gifted a chance to move back ahead. Yeardley did well to control a quickly taken Robertson free kick from the right wing that the club's captain wasn't expecting to receive. Finally assuring himself of possession, he burst into the box where Kevin McWIlliams caught him with an outstretched leg.
Yeardley went to ground and referee John Graham awarded a penalty, which Olphert confidently dispatched, sending Leach the wrong way.
The midfielder's fifth of the season – and fourth from the spot – finally ushered in a period in which Bassett asserted control over the game. They were still somewhat unconvincing though, and were unable to take full advantage of Ludgershall's tiring legs.
Frequently the hosts got in behind the Ludgershall defence, but they were only able to add one more goal.
That was partly down to a fine performance from gloveman Leach.
With quarter of an hour to go, he brilliantly batted away a Robertson strike after the forward had expertly taken down a Dan Comer cross. He then parried away from substitute Joe Hiscock as the forward, making his first appearance since returning to the club from Purton, sought to steer past him while one-on-one.
Debutant Dan Smith then saw an attempted lob glide wide after he jumped on a stray pass and raced towards goal.
With three minutes to go, Robertson finally made certain of victory, receiving Christy Millar's cross, stepping inside of marker Jordan and burying a low shot beyond Leach.
There was to be no hat trick for the forward thanks to Leach, however, as the 'keeper kept his nerve again with his defence breached. Millar should have put away the rebound, but a weak header was hacked away off the line.
Man of the Match: Matt Cheetham – particularly strong in the second half, the centre midfielder kept things ticking with minimal fuss. His tackling helped prevent Ludgershall from initiating attacks, while he looked to be positive with his passing when in possession of the ball.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Saturday 10th October 2015 at 22:51
Steve Robertson (2), Steve Olphert