A Steve Robertson hat trick condemned Royal Wootton Bassett Town to a 3-0 defeat on their return to Hellenic League Premier Division action against Wantage Town.
In the previous three seasons Steve Robertson plundered seventy goals for Royal Wootton Bassett Town, serving as the team's match winner on numerous occasions, and often summoning up vital strikes having seemingly offered little threat throughout the game.
His performance for Wantage Town against his now former side was therefore "vintage Robbo" as, after an anonymous first half performance, he scored a hat trick in a deadly fifteen-minute spell at the start of the second period to seal a convincing 3-0 victory for the Alfredians.
How Bassett miss the kind of firepower he possesses.
Especially so after they appeared well set at the break, having more than matched their high-flying hosts in an end-to-end, competitive 45 minutes of play.
But a defensive slip afforded Robertson his opener less than two minutes after the restart, and that initiated a period of play in which the forward's clinical finishing ripped Rich Hunter's side apart. By the hour mark they were three down, the game over, and a damage limitation exercise underway.
It was a performance reminiscent of those earlier in the season against the likes of Thatcham Town and Bracknell Town, in which Bassett were more than in the game before seeing their hopes of taking something from the match sharply dashed.
Amidst a downpour which battered the slick pitch, there were always going to be goals in the game. However, in the opening period both 'keepers demonstrated their quality to ensure half time was reached goalless, the contest finely poised.
Dan Lawrence was first to be called into action, tipping over Jack Dunmall's precise free kick in the second minute. From the resultant corner, Dunmall flashed a first time drive from the edge of the area narrowly wide after the Bassett stopper could only attempt to punch clear.
His opposite number Curtis Meare also had to be alert within the opening five minutes, parrying wide Lewis Waldon's tight angle shot after the Bassett forward had powered down the left wing and into the box.
Waldon again came close when he saw a long range strike deflected wide following a Rory Sproule knockdown, while he then almost set up his strike partner with a well weighted cross, which Sproule, at the far post, headed across the face of goal.
The final chance of the first half brought out an outstanding save from Lawrence, as he kept his composure to block Ben Willoughby's powerfully struck shot with his feet after Wantage stole possession inside Bassett's half and a quick switch of play had set the home side's left winger free.
There had been little to separate the sides up until the point that they re-emerged from the dressing rooms.
Bassett were certainly slow out of the blocks, and when centre back Sam Collier's heavy touch fell into the path of Dunmall they were duly punished. Taking advantage of the defender's decision to try and bring the ball down rather than clear, Dunmall burst into space and played a square pass on the edge of the area for Robertson, who guided home under the pressure of a despairing tackle from Jonny Aitkenhead.
The lead was soon doubled. Nick Thorne broke forward through the centre of midfield and threaded a pass to Robertson, who had found space for himself in the left channel. From there, he arrowed a fine low drive into the bottom right corner.
His hat trick goal was a messier finish, but demonstrated his predatory instincts. Bassett had failed to clear, allowing Willoughby to steer in a cross from the left wing, which bounced around the box before Robertson swept in on the turn from close range.
The shell-shocked visitors did click into gear, but at this stage it was too late. A consolation wasn't to be forthcoming though.
Sproule and Wrona both came close with shots from distance, the former seeing his effort deflected wide, with the latter forcing an awkward save from Meare, which he was just able to complete before Steve Yeardley pounced on the rebound.
Defender Chris Jackson also wasn't far off finding the net, hooking narrowly wide after Sproule had helped on a Wrona corner.
Those missed chances summed up Bassett's afternoon. And they were almost dealt another blow in the closing stages as the assistant referee failed to flag Dunmall offside, allowing the striker a one-on-one, with Lawrence saving at his feet.
Man of the Match: Chris Jackson – the Bassett left back performed solidly, with Wantage having little success down the side of the pitch he was defending. He also played the conditions better than most of his teammates, clipping balls into the channels which Lewis Waldon and Rory Sproule were able to feed off.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Saturday 18th November 2017 at 21:43