Brad Pagliaroli (2), Matt Bennett
Royal Wootton Bassett Town got back to winning ways with an impressive 3-1 home victory against Reading City.
A clinical attacking performance and robust defensive display secured an impressive 3-1 victory for Royal Wootton Bassett Town against much-fancied Reading City.
Powered by outstanding first half goals from Brad Pagliaroli and Matt Bennett, Bassett snuffed out the attacking threat their visitors posed despite playing against a stiff wind in the second period. Pagliaroli then secured the points with his second before Mitch Parker grabbed a late consolation for Reading from the spot.
That goal conceded was the only blot on Bassett's copybook on a day when Sam Collier's team put in a shift from front to back. No player shirked their responsibilities and not one can be described as having had a disappointing game.
After the frustration of last week's defeat at Wantage Town, Bassett knew they had another stern test on their hands given Reading's strong start to the season and the firepower they possessed.
That was on show early on too as Parker curled a free kick from the left edge of the area onto the post in only the fifth minute of a game, whose start was delayed courtesy of the opposition being caught up in heavy traffic.
Bassett eventually made the decisive first breakthrough in what had developed into a midfield battle on the half hour mark. After TJ Bohane had flicked on a Dan Cole throw, the visiting defence failed to clear and the ball dropped perfectly for Pagliaroli, who fired a perfectly executed half volley into the top right hand corner.
The response from Reading was almost immediate as a give-and-go with John Dennis on the edge of the area opened up space in the box for Ben Cook. He drew Charlie McCready off his line and was able to steer a cute shot around the 'keeper, but Dan Cole was perfectly placed to head clear off the line. Left back Rob Gerrard then placed a firmly struck shot from distance narrowly over.
But while Reading were misfiring narrowly, Bassett were in a groove offensively and doubled their advantage four minutes before the break. Pagliaroli played a perfectly weighted pass in behind the visitors' defence and, showing great desire, Matt Bennett shrugged off centre half Alfie Grant to be the first to the ball and arrowed a precise first time left-footed strike into the bottom corner.
It could well have been three prior to half time too, but, rather than squaring for either Bennett or Rob Lincoln who were both in space, Pagliaroli dragged a shot from a tight angle across goal after Steve Yeardley had initiated a counter attack.
Still, it was a superb position to be in at the break. However, playing against the wind in the second half, there was going to be plenty of hard work to do in order to guarantee the points.
Bassett's job could well have been made easier three minutes after the restart though. Winning another header, this time to flick on a Dale Richards free kick, Bohane teed up an unmarked Mark James at the far post. But his first shot was repelled by Ed Cavanagh in the Reading goal, before Bennett's follow up and another James attempt at goal were brilliantly blocked on the line by Matt Hancock.
Sensing a let off, Reading sought to exert pressure on Bassett. But, with the home side disciplined and sticking to their shape, they continued to lack the necessary end product.
Half chances for Harry Grant and Charlie Allen both ended up off target. Reading finally registered another shot on target shortly after the hour when Gerrard tried again from range, but McCready was able to parry away another powerful attempt.
Bassett continued to create opportunities too, though Bohane and Bennett both snatched at shots from advantageous positions and failed to trouble Cavanagh.
With twenty minutes remaining, Reading finally used the wind to their advantage and breached the Bassett defence as Jack Powell set Parker loose, but the forward, attempting to lift his strike over an advancing McCready, sent his effort the wrong side of the post.
Parker, recently called up for an English non-league representative team to play in the Falkland Islands, was proving most troublesome for the visitors, but was having a frustrating day, steering over from a free kick while curling over after demonstrating quick feet to fashion space on the edge of the box.
Then, with two minutes of normal time remaining, Bassett ensured any goal the visitors did muster would be a mere consolation. It was a fantastic move that brought the goal too, beginning with McCready rolling the ball out to right back Cole. Working down the right wing, play was worked to Iggy Ilott who slipped through Lincoln. An excellent turn from the winger got him clear of his man and it appeared as though he would get the goal his performance merited. However Cavanagh kept out his low drive, but could not do enough to prevent Pagliaroli slotting home the rebound.
Despite the outcome of the game now being beyond doubt, Reading – to their credit – continued to try and push forward. They appeared on course to fail to get on the scoresheet though as McCready pulled off a pair of fantastic saves to tip a curling Powell effort and another Parker free kick that was destined for the top corner around the post.
However, they were eventually able to grab a consolation as Allen earned a soft penalty and Parker sent McCready the wrong way.
But it was far too little, far too late, with Bassett having wrapped up a fully deserved and impressive win.
Man of the Match: Dale Richards – aside from the booking he picked up late in the second half, Richards did not put a foot wrong all afternoon at left back. Sound defensively and adroit in possession, he stood out most among a whole team of players whose performances merited at least seven out of ten.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Saturday 13th October 2018 at 20:05
Brad Pagliaroli (2), Matt Bennett