Another quick exit

Saturday 05 August 2017 - by Stuart Smedley (Updated on 05 August 2017 at 22:06)

Royal Wootton Bassett Town were defeated 2-1 by Crawley Green in their Emirates FA Cup extra preliminary round tie.

Gerard Buxton Sports Ground, 5th August 2017

For the third straight season, Royal Wootton Bassett Town's participation in the Emirates FA Cup lasted all of ninety minutes as they were beaten 2-1 by Spartan South Midlands League visitors Crawley Green in their extra preliminary round encounter.

In all, it was a disappointing opening competitive fixture at the Gerard Buxton Sports Ground for Rich Hunter's side, whose uninspiring, disjointed display justly earned a defeat against opponents who were clearly beatable.

Few clear cut chances were created throughout the game by either side. But it was Crawley Green's superior attacking nous and smarter play that ultimately proved decisive.

The visitors had much the better of the early proceedings, yet were unable to convert the possession they had into clear cut opportunities. The best they could muster came after ten minutes when Martin Collins ran onto Sam Willett's inside pass only to be robbed by Steve Yeardley's perfectly timed last ditch challenge.

Bassett, sloppy with their passing, had been largely silent, but were able to put themselves in front midway through the opening period. The game's opener was conjured largely out of nothing as well as right back Josh Hughes received a throw in before delivering a towering cross which Nathan Gambling, leaping off his back foot, was able to guide into the top left corner with a perfectly controlled header.

Going ahead must have come as a surprise for the hosts, the goal failing to instil any greater confidence in their play.

And within ten minutes Crawley Green were able to get themselves back on level terms. The home defence was opened up by a quick give-and-go and through ball into the right channel, which Henry Mungwira raced onto. He had far too much pace for Nathan Hawkins, who could only attempt to haul Mungwira back. That effort failed, and the dangerous winger was able to coolly slot home when one-on-one with Ant Brown.

The visitors then came close to extending their advantage shortly before the break. They had the Bassett defence stretched after swiftly moving the ball from right to left, and Aaron Browne's testing low ball into the box was diverted narrowly over as Charlie Clayton prepared to pounce.

Bassett briefly looked as though they were set to spark into life shortly after the restart when midfield playmakers Gio Wrona and Sam Packer were finally brought into the game, having received little service in the opening half.

Twice their link-up play presented openings for Gambling, with the powerful frontman snatching at the first effort and firing tamely at Crawley Green custodian Dean Bull before drawing a fine parry from the stopper with a well struck curling effort from the edge of the box.

Failure to convert those chances summed up Bassett's frustrating afternoon.

To make matters worse, they were soon in a position where they were having to chase the game as centre back Michael Moss was left unaccounted for at the far post and he headed in Collins' corner.

The introductions of Mason Thompson and George Lance did add some spark to Bassett's play as they sought an equaliser. But there was too little time for them to really make that much of a difference.

Thompson, after receiving a pass from Wrona on the left, did present Gambling with a chance, but the forward saw his 15-yard drive batted away by Bull.

A counter from Crawley Green then should have seen the outcome put beyond doubt, but the impressive Collins dragged wide when presented with a golden opportunity following substitute Meshack Hendrickson's bustling run.

Bassett would have one last half chance when Packer swung in a cross from the right. However Thompson, charging towards the front post, could only steer a difficult sidefoot half volley over after the ball had taken an awkward bounce.]

Man of the Match: Gio Wrona – came into the game more in the second half when moved into a central position – his favoured spot – and was his side's most creative outlet.

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