Royal Wootton Bassett Town were punished for failing to take their plethora of early chances as they were defeated 2-0 by Virginia Water.
It's one of the oldest truths in football: if you fail to take your chances, you'll fail to win the game. And Royal Wootton Bassett Town discovered that to their cost in a 2-0 defeat away against Virginia Water.
In fairness, the better, more composed side over the course of the ninety minutes won the game. But had Bassett not passed up a game's worth of great opportunities in the opening quarter of an hour, then it's likely they'd have taken at least something from the match.
In the end, however, two second half goals from the hosts â€“ the first from a well-worked short corner routine, the second a gift from a critical error â€“ proved the difference, forcing Sam Collier and his team to return to Wiltshire empty-handed.
How the outcome could have been different though.
Thirty seconds in a good move in the left corner involving Brad Pagliaroli and debutant Gabriel Silva opened up space, with Gio Wrona eventually squaring for TJ Bohane, whose stabbed effort from the edge of the box forced an outstretched Matt Jones to tip around the post.
Wanting to playing the ball out from the back at every opportunity, the hosts were stuttering in the early stages. And their commitment to that style of play almost proved costly in the second minute when Silva picked the pocket of dithering centre half Mike Chambers. Jones came to the rescue though, blocking the forward's tight angled effort. The danger wasn't averted though, and Silva headed narrowly wide from the resulting corner.
A rare foray out from the back then presented the Waters with their first opening as Scott Jackson let loose from range, his low bouncing drive forcing an awkward parry around the post by Charlie McGready.
Bassett were the side firmly on top at this stage though. And on nine minutes Josh Shama acrobatically shot wide after Adam Corcoran had headed down a Bohane cross. A minute later, clever skill from Pagliaroli allowed him to cut inside two defenders and break into the box, but Jones was on hand to repel his effort. Shama then recycled the loose ball into the box, with Bohane heading inches over from twelve yards.
It was ultimately a period of play Bassett were left to rue. Virginia Water settled down into a tidy rhythm, playing neat football, while also giving their visitors little time when in possession. It didn't help Bassett that by impatiently trying to rush the ball forward they were prone to carelessly ceding possession back to their hosts.
Still, Virginia Water were only really troubling Bassett from set plays. Finn Evered headed straight into the hands of McGready from a Steve Williams corner, before a short corner out to Josh Hill on the edge of the area resulted in a powerful drive being spilt by McGready and headed away off the line by Corcoran. Another training ground routine then resulted in the same defender getting in the way of Jake Baker's hooked attempt.
At the other end, Bassett continued to fail to find their range. A slip from Silva meant that he was unable to properly latch onto Iggy Ilott's defence splitting through ball and instead shot straight at Jones before Bohane shot low into the path of the 'keeper after a blocked Shama shot fell to the forward.
Early in the second period Shama tried his luck from distance, but narrowly missed the target. And that would prove to be the last decent attempt at goal Bassett had in the game as their disjointed pattern of play continued to let them down.
It meant too much was being asked of their defence, and the danger signs appeared when Scott Jackson saw a deflected strike loop just over, the subsequent corner being headed over by an unmarked Chambers.
With close to seventy minutes on the clock, Virginia Water eventually took the lead. Making a darting run from the edge of the area towards the near post, an unmarked Hill was able to connect with Williams' low delivery from the corner. The midfielder appeared to mishit his first time shot, but that wound up being in his favour as the ball looped into the top left corner.
They then almost had an instant second as Adam McNamara's shot flew past the post before McGready's fine one-on-one save with his legs denied Baker.
But the visitors ultimately gift-wrapped the decisive second. Taking a throw in halfway between his own goal and the middle of the park, left back Jack Stanley decided to try and find his 'keeper rather than taking the sensible option and going down the line.
It was a good ten yards short of his intended target though, and McGready was lucky that Baker, who raced onto the loose ball, remained on his feet when the two made contact outside the box. That allowed the forward to square inside for his strike partner, and though the Bassett 'keeper did his best to chase play down, McNamara kept his cool and tucked the ball away.
There was to be no coming back from that self-inflicted hole. And they were fortunate not to concede again when Hill, racing in front of Stanley, steered over from Joe McBride's low cross into the box.
Man of the Match: Adam Corcoran â€“ was solid in the centre of defence alongside Steve Yeardley, winning the majority of his aerial battles and helping snuff out some dangerous looking counter attacks when Bassett were caught with too many men committed forward.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Tuesday 11th September 2018 at 23:06