Last-gasp-Laffers has last laugh with leveller
Harry Laflin nodded home a 95th minute equaliser as Ascot United twice came from a goal down to deservedly draw 2-2 with high-flying Southall on Saturday. The marksman (pictured, library image) took his remarkable tally to 24 goals in 23 games this season having earlier scored a penalty, but it was the never-say-die team performance that ultimately yielded a point against a strong Southall side.
Kick-off was delayed by over an hour after a serious knee injury to one of the players in a preceding game on Ascot’s 3G surface, and when it finally got underway the crowd enjoyed a full-blooded encounter.
Taylor Morgan’s low shot was well saved by visiting ‘keeper Berkley Laurencin in the 13th minute albeit it was Southall who had made the brighter start, but they were soon testing the home defence when ex-Yellamen Lenny Farhall was denied by Chris Ellis whose timely interception prevented an almost certain goal.
But the real talking point was the scandalous denial of a penalty for Ascot on the half-hour mark when Morgan was hacked down after rounding Laurencin from Laflin’s set-up; although the stumbling Morgan almost scooped home in the aftermath as play was allowed to continue.
And, to add salt into the hosts’ wounds, Southall went up the other end and scored – Farhall curling sublimely over Sam Gray – a fine-finish with little backlift; 34 minutes played.
The first half ended after a glut of further strong challenges – Morgan aggrieved by visiting defender Alex Nolan’s fabrication in rolling around when untouched – teeing up a tasty second half.
And, tasty it was, as both sides created chances in what culminated in a grandstand finale.
Early on, Adam Everiss saw an early shot turned around a post by Laurencin before Taylor fashioned a chance that found the side-netting as Ascot went for the jugular, but it was two moments of madness that led to the equaliser on 59 minutes. Rory Merrick pushed forwards and lost control, although his inadvertent dummy flummoxed the defence, allowing Taylor the chance to lay the ball off to Merrick for a second chance – which was crudely ended in the penalty area – and Laflin hammered the resultant spot-kick into the corner.
Laflin then saw an overhead kick cleared off the line by Carl Pearce, but after weathering a storm Southall delivered a sucker punch of their own when Luke Henneghan swept home from the edge of the area following a swift counter-attack to make it 2-1; 66 minutes played.
Southall might even have added to their advantage only for Gray to make a trio of important saves to deny Lewis Putman, Farhall with a double save, and then Putman again who has unleashed a thunderbolt that Gray beat away.
But with time ticking away, the Yellamen threw caution to the wind and blew more wind into their sails. Defender Adam Everiss made way for Dennis Nortey in an attacking switch, and even the injured Louis Bouwers came on for his aerial presence; a gamble that would pay off.
As injury time ticked by, Ascot won a trio of throw-ins, and with Bouwers causing havoc from Ellis’s long deliveries, the visitors finally cracked in the midst of the third of them when Laflin got his head on the ball in the fifth minute of stoppage time to spark wild scenes both on and off the pitch.
Ascot United: Gray, Lock (Surpanu), Everiss (Nortey), Scott, Bailey, Ellis, Merrick (Walden), Denton, Morgan, Laflin, August (Bouwers). Sub unused: Sykes