Daniel Warre, Rhys Wells
Royal Wootton Bassett Town booked their spot in the knockout stages of the Bluefin Sports Hellenic League Challenge Cup with a hard-fought, albeit deserved, 2-0 home triumph against Stonehouse Town.
In a fixture whose outcome was to decide who followed Group Two winners Brimscombe and Thrupp into the last sixteen, Sam Collier's side ensured they would be the ones to progress courtesy of second half goals from Rhys Wells and Dan Warre.
Consecutive defeats against Brimscombe and Malmesbury Victoria made sure that Bassett's fate hinged on their final group fixture. And with Stonehouse having proven to be stubborn opponents on the two other occasions they had faced Bassett this season - including the 0-0 draw that opened both sides' cup campaigns, it was certain to be a testing 90 minutes.
And, while that proved to be the case, Bassett demonstrated enough fortitude and the ability to deliver when it mattered to see their way through.
Both sides had chances in an evenly contested opening period.
For Bassett, Ralph Graham twice came close, curling just over the bar from open play after quarter of an hour before narrowly missing the target with a free kick on 34 minutes.
For the visitors, Harry Burns and Andrew Maryon had opportunities sandwiched between those Graham chances, the former firing over and the latter steering wide from a left-wing cross.
Bassett then came closest to opening the deadlock two minutes before the interval when Zac Skinner thrashed a shot against the bar and Warre was unable to make anything of the rebound.
After the restart, the visitors' speedy left winger Chris Earle got beyond Matt Berry-Hargreaves only to fire over.
But it was Bassett who would eventually find the decisive opener on 58 minutes as good set up work from Warre teed up Wells to finish.
The ever dangerous Earle continued to cause Bassett problems though as Stonehouse - in need of a win to go through - sought to get back on terms. And he perhaps should have earned his side a penalty with seven minutes to go after appearing to have been caught by a trailing Berry-Hargreaves. But when arguably entitled to go down, Earle stayed on his feet and the referee's whistle remained muted.
Earle was then seemingly left to rue his honest approach two minutes later when Warre latched onto a long ball over the top before producing a cool finish that put the game to bed.
One last chance fell to Earle as he shot wide, an outcome that immediately drew the final whistle as Bassett marched on.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Sunday 2nd May 2021 at 15:01
Daniel Warre, Rhys Wells