Alioune Diouf, Steve Robertson, Henry Spalding
Goals from Henry Spalding, Alioune Diouf and Steve Robertson saw Royal Wootton Bassett Town record a convincing 3-0 victory against Brackley Town Saints.
A calculated, clever performance earned Royal Wootton Bassett Town their second league victory of their Hellenic League Premier Division campaign as they defeated Brackley Town Saints 3-0.
First half goals from Henry Spalding and Alioune Diouf put Bassett in a commanding position come the half time break, while a late header from Steve Robertson guaranteed the three points after the hosts had weathered a lengthy threatening spell from the Saints.
It was touch and go as to whether the game would go ahead as a biblical storm threw down buckets of rain in the hour before kick-off. But after the weather cleared up, all that was needed was a fifteen minute delay before proceedings got under way.
Indeed, given how quickly the water drained from the playing surface, any spectators turning up later would have been forgiven for thinking that it had been an afternoon of blue skies in North Wiltshire.
Once play got underway, the Northamptonshire visitors were everything Bassett expected them to be. Sprightly, confident in possession and keen to stroke the ball around and build from the back, they were certainly pleasing on the eye.
Yet for all that commitment to playing the game the right way, they lacked a cutting edge up front, which would soon play into their opponent's hands.
Twice in the opening exchanges the Saints were afforded dead ball opportunities in close proximity to the Bassett goal.
The first came after just ten minute when Steve Yeardley was guilty of lingering on the ball, dispossessed and then tripped Josh Gibbins. Matt Hammond struck a curling free kick towards the bottom left corner, forcing Richard Lancaster to scurry across his line and awkwardly claw it away.
Eight minutes later Liam Edmondson felled James Watts on the edge of the area after neat interplay with Hammond allowed the midfielder to play around both George Drewitt and Jamie Richards. Lewis Baldwin this time took the dangerously positioned free kick, but failed to find the target.
It was telling that Brackley had up to this point failed to threaten from open play. While that could partly be attributed to their style, it was also down to organised defensive work from their hosts, who bided their time before pouncing on any stray passes. And with Brackley committing men in attack, that allowed Bassett to exploit the visitors on the counter.
That's how the opening goal came about. With half an hour played, Brackley gave away possession from a throw in the final third. Dan Bailey was the man who found himself in possession and he delivered an inch perfect arcing pass up to lone forward Diouf. After clever hold up play, Diouf released an overlapping Spalding, who galloped inside centre half Sam Bridges before confidently sweeping the ball into the bottom right corner.
He could have had a second too minutes later after bringing down Richards' lofted pass in the left channel. However, from a tight angle, Spalding could only produce a weak shot.
Diouf doubled Bassett's lead though. From deep on the left Sam Packer delivered a towering cross to the edge of the area, which caught the Brackley defence by surprise. 'Keeper Daniel Farrell raced off his line, but he found himself in no man's land as Diouf flicked a weighted header over him and into the net.
Brackley were now on the ropes, and Bailey could have made it a three goal deficit before the interval when he controlled a Spalding cross, but stabbed straight at Farrell.
Against such clever opponents, holding a two goal lead was never going to be a comfortable position, particularly as the amount of work Bassett were doing off the ball required a significant amount of energy to be exerted.
And there must have been some frustration after the restart as Yeardley squandered a one-on-one opportunity, delaying his shot after a Robertson through pass long enough to allow Bridges to make a recovery tackle.
Brackley then started to exert more and more pressure. Josh Bowden, moved into the middle after starting the game on the right, was the main source of danger and brought three saves out of Lancaster.
The last of that trio of denials from the Bassett stopper was something special too as he dove back and across goal to acrobatically tip a Bowden header over the bar.
Substitute Denilson Silva also came close, sending a snap shot narrowly wide after the home side failed to fully clear from a cross.
The counter attack was still presenting Bassett with a level of joy and three minutes from time only a composed save from Farrell prevented Scott Walduck from killing off the game after he had been released by Robertson.
Finally though, last season's thirty goal man sealed the game. A series of short passes between involving the forward, Bailey and Packer opened up space for the latter to cross from the right corner, and Robertson had timed his run perfectly to plant a header into the right corner and finish off a fine move.
Man of the Match: Henry Spalding – dangerous throughout his 80 minutes on the pitch thanks to his willingness to run at the Brackley defence. The Supermarine loanee took his goal brilliantly too.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Monday 29th August 2016 at 20:31
Alioune Diouf, Steve Robertson, Henry Spalding