ASCOT MAKE HISTORY TO REACH WEMBLEY

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Ascot United celebrate booking a place in the FA Vase Final at Wembley Photo: Shooting Stars Photography

Yellamen beat Corsham in FA Vase spot kick drama

Ascot United will play at Wembley Stadium for the first time in their history after beating Corsham Town in the Isuzu FA Vase Semi Final on Saturday. With the scores tied at 2-2 after a nervy 90 minutes, both sides endured an excruciating penalty shoot-out where Sean McCormack held his nerve to send his side through to play at the home of English football.

The Yellamen were without the influential trio of Jordan Ajanlejoko, Jay Welch and Usman Lalustani, but had faith in a squad that had lost just one game in 33 heading into the biggest match of their careers.

Corsham were, however, also in fine form and had proved equally hard to beat in the Hellenic League Premier Division; 3pm arrived and it was a case of who would blink first in front of a 1500-capacity Southbank Stadium crowd.

Despite being backed by a ‘yellow wall’ of over 200 travelling supporters, Ascot were overrun in the early stages and had ‘keeper Rhys Forster to thank for keeping the home side at bay.

Firstly, he turned Jon Davies shot around a post before somehow recovering to pounce on Kane Simpson’s effort when it looked odds-on he would score.

Simpson and Dan Demkiv would also be denied by Forster – unconventionally at times – but the main point was it remained goalless in the face of a home onslaught.

But Ascot are the kings of playing their way into games and that is exactly what they did; Rob Gerrard’s flashing header went just wide after a good move involving Brendan Matthew and McCormack; the latter swinging in the inviting cross.

After signalling their intent, it took one ruthless finish from one equally ruthless striker – Brendan Matthew – who raced onto Harry Grant’s though-ball in the 33rd minute, held off his marker and slotted the ball into the bottom right to make it 1-0.

Matthew might have made it 2-0 before half-time only for home ‘keeper Sam Jepson to produce an instinctive close-range save to deny Matthew what might have been a match-killing goal; 1-0 it remained at the break.

Changing ends at half time the home side were superb in their approach and after early chances for Ascot they were level when Nathan Davies equalised at the near post from a 50th minute corner.

At the other end, the impressive Chris Ellis almost turned provider when his long throw-in deceived Jepson, but Corsham escaped.

But it the pendulum swung very much in Corsham’s favour with a quarter of the game remaining when Sean Keet smashed home from the edge of the area following another corner to make it 2-1.

Manager Jamie Tompkins then made a trio of changes, pulling off the exceptional Sam Balogun alongside George Lock and the injured Ellis; The Yellamen with a little under fifteen minutes to find a response.

And, a response they duly found – impact substitute Marcus Mealing creating the chance for Matthew to cut back from the right; Rob Gerrard on hand to tap home the 78th minute equaliser, much to the delight of Ascot’s travelling fans.

Impressive home midfielder Nathan Davies might have won it for Corsham in the fourth minute of stoppage time only to drag wide – and somewhat inevitably it ended in spot-kicks; Corsham already triumphing in four penalty shoot-outs en-route to the semi-finals.

And what a penalty shoot-out it was. Ascot were ahead at one point after Harry Grant scored and the home side missed, but after Harry Tucker missed for Ascot it was all-square before Matthew, Mealing and Alife Grant all scored to make it 4-4.

Corsham then hit the post in sudden death – cue Gerrard with the chance to send Ascot to Wembley – but he elected for precision and missed high top left – and sudden death spot-kicks continued.

But cometh the hour and cometh the man. Forster – the man with big shoes to fill in the wake of the injured and watching Jamie Ashdown – duly produced the telling save to tee up Ascot’s next chance of glory.

And, it was down to McCormack – he stepped up with nerves of steel to fire The Yellamen and their incredible travelling supporters into dreamland.

Ascot United: Forster, Lock (Mealing 70’), Gerrard, A. Grant, Bailey, Tucker, Balogun (Walters 70’), McCormack, H. Grant, Matthew, Ellis (August 80’) . Subs unused: Phillips, Negus, Bouwers, Gray.

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