Alfie Presley (2)
Royal Wootton Bassett Town advanced to the Isuzu FA Vase third round for a third consecutive year courtesy of a hard earned 2-1 victory over Hellenic League Premier Division rivals Longlevens.
Alfie Presley was the hero for Bassett, twice holding his nerve and converting from the penalty spot as Sam Collier and his side's recent love affair with this national competition continued.
After twenty years in which Bassett had never advanced beyond the second round, Collier has guided Basset to the last 64 three years running, enjoying unprecedented success given the club's previous Vase travails.
As with last year's win on penalties away at Wellington, Bassett were forced to earn their place in third round with Longlevens pushing their hosts all the way.
Always tricky opponents, the Gloucester-based outfit were the last team to beat Bassett in competitive action at the Sustain Stadium back in February.
And after a first half in which they were the better team, the visitors entered the interval with their tails up, perhaps confident of ending Bsssett's lengthy home unbeaten run.
Although neither side had broken the deadlock, Longlevens enjoyed much the better opportunities.
A double chance fell to the visitors just after ten minutes with Cam Williams seeing an effort from the edge of the box blocked before Shaun O'Connor fizzed wide from the rebound.
Presley soon had the ball in the net for Bassett though play had already been halted for offside.
Indeed that was the best the hosts could muster.
Instead the visitors continued to be more creative, with Shiyak Sutherland shooting across the face of goal, Jack Beardsell firing over and Tyreece Briscoe forcing a save - albeit a comfortable one - from Rob Brown.
Within five minutes of the restart Longlevens hit the post as Cam Williams stole possession deep inside Bassett territory, cut inside from the left and shot at goal.
Soon enough though they were behind. A rare foray forward from Bassett ended with Scott Chilcott being bundled over by Ollie Long. And Presley stepped up to the spot, confidently firing into the bottom right corner as he sent Mateusz Wieczorek the wrong way.
The goal finally ignited Bassett who finally started to find their groove.
They still had to be wary of their opponents though.
On the hour the ever dangerous Brad Martin rising to meet a corner with a powerful header that fortunately was straight at Brown.
Fifteen minutes later the same player shot on the turn from the edge of the area, with a deflection taking the ball narrowly wide. The resulting corner caused panic in the box and Jack Beardsell rattled the bar with an off balance effort.
A pair of chances then fell to Bailey Gallagher at the other end, with the tricky winger first forcing Wieczorek to parry the ball away for a corner before he struck narrowly wide from twenty yards.
The game remained on a knife edge - and it soon appeared as though a shootout was on the cards as Longlevens grabbed an equaliser with seven minutes remaining.
It was something of a gift too, with Harrison Iddles taking advantage of careless play from Brown - who was seeking to kill time after a Martin effort - by putting a challenge in on the 'keeper and poking home.
Brown was rescued four minutes later though. Bassett earned a second penalty as Long was guilty of a stamp on Gallagher off the ball that rightly earned the defender a straight red card. Presley once again took the honours and again sent Wieczorek the wrong way, this time steering into the bottom left corner to seal victory.
The man of the match's double sealed a hat trick of third round appearances. Now's the time for Bassett to finally overcome that hurdle and book a place in the last 32 of the Vase.
Bring on Monday's draw.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Monday 13th November 2023 at 19:46
Alfie Presley (2)