ASCOT BEAT TADLEY TO BOOK VASE FIRST ROUND SPOT

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Comfortable 4-1 win against struggling Calleva

Ascot United eased into the FA Vase First Round Proper with a comfortable win over Combined Counties League rivals Tadley Calleva on Saturday. Ascot led three-nil at the break after capitalizing on a trio of defensive slip-ups, before securing the game midway through the second half ahead of the hosts’ late consolation.

With gridlock around the county’s roads and a fuel crisis it was somewhat of a relief that The Yellamen’s road trip only took them 25 miles-or-so into Hampshire, although it was both defences that appeared out-of-gas in the first half.

The hosts’ Brett Denham had the ball in the net after just 12 minutes albeit an offside flag denied the striker, although had Calum Ferguson’s horribly misjudged backpass not led to an earlier corner for Tadley, the pressure could have been avoided.

The hosts sacked their manager during midweek after a dismal start to the season – including a 5-1 league defeat against Ascot – and the proverbial new broom was broken by half-time as the visitors ultimately punished Tadley’s own defensive horror show. Firstly, Keaton August pounced on an awful pass back across the penalty area before picking his spot to open the scoring, before Jonny Denton’s corner to the far post saw Dan Bailey head in from virtually under the crossbar with all the freedom of Barlows Park (pictured scoring, shooting-stars.co.uk).

Tadley might have nicked one or two but for wayward finishing as Ascot’s inability to retain possession almost cost them; James Tennant’s shot was saved low by Sam Gray and defender Aiden Harris was allowed to run into space before forcing another save from the dependable ‘keeper, albeit awkwardly as he got his body behind a swerving left-foot effort to the centre of the goal.

But when Tadley’s Lucas Burt had lost possession just before the break, Ascot ruthlessly punished him as August fed Taylor Morgan, Morgan drove into the box and picked out Sean McCormack, and he gleefully tapped home for a 3-0 half time lead.

The second half never really matched the first in terms of intensity and the home side will take credit from battling on. Indeed, Tom Walsh was denied by Gray before Burt saw his follow-up blocked as they threatened first, and Osman Darboe would eventually grab the goal his side deserved with a neat finish after Gray had denied Denham in the 73rd minute.

Before that, Nortey and Nice once again made their appearances from the bench for Ascot. Both lived up to their names – the former with a glut of challenges leading to a booking and the latter having a good game having replaced Ferguson at half time.

But Nortey would open his account before Tadley’s consolation when he converted a delicious McCormack cross in the 67th minute, although Morgan had a huge part in the build-up when he drifted from left wing to right before threading McCormack in.

When Josh Masters hobbled off with eight minutes remaining The Yellamen were left with ten men after Ollie Graham had earlier become his side’s third and final substitute; Masters’ visible frustrations suggesting it might take more than a Nurofen and a day’s rest to put the left-back right.

But 4-1 was a fair result for a ground-out day at the office, and the draw for the first round takes place on Monday.

Ascot United: Gray, Lock, Masters, Ferguson (Nice), Bailey, Ellis, McCormack, Denton, Morgan (Graham), August (Nortey), Surpanu. Subs unused: Walden, Sykes, Thompson

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