Bassett make Ampthill pay the penalty in Vase triumph

Saturday 21 October 2017 - by Stuart Smedley (Updated on 21 October 2017 at 22:14)

Royal Wootton Bassett Town advanced to the second round of the FA Vase with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory against Ampthill Town.

Gerard Buxton Sports Ground, 21st October 2017

A patient, disciplined display helped Royal Wootton Bassett Town advance to the FA Vase second round for only the second time in their history as they came from behind to defeat testing opponents Ampthill Town 2-1.

On a blustery afternoon, Bassett did supremely well to ensure they went into half time trailing by a single goal.

And, with the wind behind them following the restart, took the game to their Spartan South Midlands League Division One opponents, eventually securing victory courtesy of Sam Collier's poacher's finish on the hour mark and Steve Yeardley's confidently taken penalty with five minutes to go.

Rich Hunter's team dealt with the difficult conditions exceptionally well, and that was evident from a solid first half performance – playing into a ferocious, swirling wind - in which they limited their visitors to just three shots on goal.

Only one of those was taken. In the game 23rd minute a Bassett attack broke down when Kai Robinson's attempted pass into Sam Packer fell short of its target. With men committed forward, Bassett were to be caught on the break, as a long clearance over the top set the prolific Sam Holmes free, and he shrugged off the attentions of Matt Cheetham before burying a low left-footed drive beyond Dan Lawrence.

Four minutes later Ed Skinner blazed over from the left edge of the area after James Tiller's towering, in-swinging free kick was only half cleared.

Ampthill's final opportunity of the half then fell to Brad Clarke, who controlled Holmes' inside pass with his back to goal before sending an acrobatic effort into the arms of Lawrence.

Throughout the period Bassett had been making forays into the visitors' half, and though they only asked a question of 'keeper Ross Tompkins the once before the break, it did almost lead to an equaliser. Following a foul on Antonio Gerrish on the edge of the box, Packer struck a low free kick towards the bottom right corner and the outstretched Ampthill shotstopper did well to get down low and clutch onto the ball.

With the wind behind them and the tie still well within their grasp, Bassett emerged for the second half in a confident.

They could have been level less than two minutes after the restart too. Ampthill were guilty of overplaying at the back and Gerrish was able to steal possession from centre half Aaron Ramsey deep inside the box. From a tight angle, the midfielder shot a goal and forced Tompkins to tip wide at the near post.

It helped Bassett that the Bedfordshire side were taking the opposite approach to their hosts when it came to defending the clubhouse end. Sitting very deep, they invited pressure upon themselves, resulting in more chances than they could muster in the preceding 45 minutes.

The always probing Rory Sproule came close on 53 minutes. Controlling a diagonal ball from Adam Corcoran, he arrowed a 15-yard effort across goal, which Tompkins gladly held onto.

The home side's spell of dominance soon told and Hunter's team equalised exactly on the hour mark.

Collier had just been thrown on in place of Robinson, with a midfielder being sacrificed for a third striker, and the change paid immediate dividends. Wrona's low corner wasn't cleared, resulting in a brief spell of pinball in the box, and the ball fell to Collier who, with his first touch, fired home.

The game was now clearly Bassett's to lose, and they should have pulled ahead shortly after restoring parity.

Sproule was unlucky when his far post header from another Wrona corner struck the bar before going over, but his strike partner Collier was left holding his head in his hands minutes later.

Kieran Diaz-Benitez, who had an outstanding game at right back, set loose Packer with a clipped pass into the right channel, and after confidently beating his man, the Bassett playmaker delivered a perfect low cross into the box. It was set up on a plate for an unmarked Collier, who contrived to skew over from ten yards out with the goal at his mercy.

He can be forgiven that miss, however, given the equaliser he had earlier recorded.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Ampthill briefly sprung into life. Twice they got at Bassett down the right flank, but they could only muster shots from very tight angles. The first from Holmes forced Lawrence to parry and Cheetham to scramble clear, before the second saw Clarke fire into the side netting after Ampthill launched a controversial counter following an injury to Jonny Aitkenhead.

Still, it was Bassett who were controlling proceedings, and Packer narrowly missed the target with a flicked header when Sproule diverted Wrona's corner back across goal.

Eventually though the breakthrough was found. On the edge of his area, Ramsey attempted to head Yeardley's pass in over the top clear. However, he didn't connect properly and the ball sailed backwards into the path of Sproule. Seizing possession, the forward sought to round Tompkins but was hauled down by the 'keeper.

It was a stonewall penalty and Yeardley made no mistake, sending the 'keeper the wrong way as he swept the spot kick into the top left corner.

Given an earlier injury to Ampthill's Louie Dillon, there was still plenty of time left in the match. Tiller didn't help his side's cause though when he picked up a second caution for a late lunge on Diaz-Benitez.

Given an earlier injury to Ampthill's Louie Dillon, there was still plenty of time left in the match. Tiller didn't help his side's cause though when he picked up a second caution for a late lunge on Diaz-Benitez.

Ampthill did have one chance left in them when Lawrence punched Jake O'Neil's free kick only as far as substitute Ben Butler, but the defender's looping header landed on the roof of the net.

That meant victory was Bassett's – and a hard-fought, deserved one it was too.

Man of the Match; Kieran Diaz-Benitez – had an excellent game at right back. Throughout the contest he caused the visitors trouble with his dangerous forays forward and good deliveries into the box. Defensively he was solid too, helping bottle up the free-scoring Holmes, who was limited to just a single shot.

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