Ten-man Bassett battle to FA Cup victory

Saturday 11 August 2018 - by Stuart Smedley (Updated on 11 August 2018 at 23:52)

Brad Pagliaroli struck the only goal of the game as ten-man Royal Wootton Bassett Town saw off Leighton Town 1-0 in their Emirates FA Cup extra preliminary round encounter.

Bell Close, 11th August 2018

Royal Wootton Bassett Town demonstrated superb resolves as they held on for a 1-0 Emirates FA Cup extra preliminary round victory away against Leighton Town despite having to play a large part of the second half with ten men.

Brad Pagliaroli's clever first half stoppage time strike proved to be enough for Sam Collier's team to book a preliminary round date with league rivals Lydney Town and secure the club's first win in the world's oldest knockout competition since 2014.

A tense tie, which could have gone either way, played out in Bedfordshire. But Bassett will feel that their victory was deserved, particularly given the way they knuckled down after Danny Lachacz' harsh dismissal to preserve their lead.

Pitch conditions certainly did not help either team as the arid, firm playing surface made it difficult to bring the ball down.

That led to some dicey moments at the back for the home side in the opening stages. Yet, despite their early defensive wobbles, Leighton twice came close to breaking the deadlock early on.

In the fourth minute the home side's creative spark Lewis McBride delivered a raking cross-field ball in behind the Bassett defence, which left back Matt Hall was able to race onto, but Alex Bowers was equal to his tight angle shot, batting the ball away before Dale Richards was able to hook behind for a corner.

Minutes later, a loose ball broke for McBride on the edge of the area and his deflected shot seemed to have the better of a wrong-footed Bowers. However, the 'keeper was able to reverse his direction of travel before tipping away to safety.

Bassett were asking questions of Leighton's defence too as the hosts found the going tough against the pacey quartet of frontrunners Collier had at his disposal. And, making his first appearance of the season, the returning Matty Bennett was looking sharp, though he was narrowly beaten to Josh Shama's defence splitting through pass by 'keeper Tom Wyant, who had to rush off his line and smother to deny what would have been a sure goal had the striker got there first.

A pair of free kicks from just outside the area were then squandered at both ends. For Bassett, Gio Wrona went for placement over power, despite the location of the set piece calling for the latter, and he could not get his attempt over the wall. Meanwhile, for Leighton Hall curled narrowly over.

Clear cut chances were at something of a premium and the game appeared destined to enter the break goalless.

But, seemingly out of nothing, Bassett conjured up the ultimate matchwinner on the stroke of half time.

From inside his own half, Steve Yeardley clipped a free kick forward, which Bennett was able to control on the edge of the area and set to Pagliaroli. After turning onto his preferred left foot, Pagliaroli feinted to shoot into the far left-hand corner. And that intelligent piece of play fooled the defence, opening up enough of a window for the forward to be able to steer a precise, low shot inside the near post.

The visitors could well have been two goals to the good almost immediately after the restart too, but Bennett snatched at a shot when Wrona's left-wing free kick was only half cleared and the ball fell kindly for the forward.

There then followed two good chances for Leighton, as George Armstrong and Callum Gregory both struck narrowly over before the game's first moment of controversy arrived.

Bassett had been awarded a free kick inside their own half, and as Yeardley played the ball forward, it was blocked by home forward Denilson Silva, who had failed to retreat ten yards. Play was therefore stopped so referee Darren Hill could deliver the Leighton man a yellow card.

Before he could brandish the caution though, Yeardley and Silva had decided to exchange words with one another, leading to Silva delivering a clear headbutt to the Bassett defender. However, neither the referee nor his two assistants claimed to have witnessed the act, and a booking for the initial offence was all that was given.

After McBride forced an awkward save from Bowers and Alex O'Brien blasted over after being played in behind, the second talking point arrived. Lachacz had been booked in the first half for one foul too many and, arriving a millisecond too late for an innocuous challenge in the 70th minute he duly received a second.

That forced a rethink from Collier, with Kai Robinson replacing Bennett to shore up the midfield.

Unsurprisingly it also led to Leighton throwing everything they had at Bassett. And it almost paid off for them with quarter of an hour to go when Armstrong's shot was fumbled by Bowers and the ensuing scramble was almost turned in.

Bassett had chances to kill the game off though as Leighton proved susceptible on the break. With nine minutes remaining, Pagliaroli played in Robinson, but a rushed left foot shot was straight a Wyant. A switch of play from fellow substitute George Lance then picked out an unmarked Robinson, but this time he dragged his shot wide.

Failing to put away those opportunities, nerves would have been expected to further creep in for Bassett the closer it got to the full-time whistle.

Yet Bassett remained robust defensively, and with the midfield and attack covering every blade of grass possible, only two more opportunities fell Leighton's way.

Full back Tom Bryant came closest, cutting in from the left before arrowing a powerful drive just wide as he aimed for the opposite top corner. Then, with the final kick of the game, McBride fired into the side netting from an angle after having shrugged off the attentions of Dale Richards.

Man of the Match: Brad Pagliaroli – took his clever goal extremely well and worked hard throughout the entire game, especially when operating as a lone forward after his team had been reduced to ten men.

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