Lions fight back twice in 2-2 draw
Both goalkeepers were in the spotlight as Ascot United and Wembley played out a rare draw on Saturday afternoon. Home ‘keeper Rhys Forster kept his side in it to atone for a first-half error, whereas visiting number one Charlie Wealands was in imperious form as his stunning double save later-on did the same.
Ascot had only won the reverse fixture with an injury time strike and now faced a Wembley side that had won their last three games, although it was as much a test of reserves for the home side who were playing their third game in five days.
In front of a decent-sized crowd on national non-league day, Ascot took a thirteenth minute lead when Alfie Grant headed home from Sean McCormack’s free kick.
Wembley levelled matters seven minutes later when Ben Lawson-Hatch rolled into an empty net to punish Forster’s air-shot, but Forster would otherwise have a good game.
Chris Ellis’s downward header then went just wide for Ascot and he went close again soon after with a low effort that Ethan Tyrer almost diverted past Wealands, who kept the ball out with a sprawling save.
In between those efforts Wembley had threatened once again through Lawson-Hatch, although Forster’s solid save kept him out, and after that it was all Ascot for the remainder of the half.
Workmanlike striker Mealing nodded Ascot back into the lead just before the half hour mark from Ellis’s throw in, and they might have added a third only for McCormack to cross when a shot looked a better option when clean-through. There was still time for Harry Tucker’s rasping effort from an indirect free-kick to be cleared off the line after defender Ronnie Swash was harshly penalised for an inadvertent back-pass to Wealands; fellow Wembley defender Calvin Osborne consequently sin-binned for the final two minutes of the half and opening eight of the next after his angry remonstrations to the referee.
A flurry of changes further disjointed the game and it was the visitors who looked the more likely to score only for Forster to save from substitute Jonathan Iley on the hour mark and then sprawling across to thwart another effort from Lawson-Hatch ten minutes later.
But Wembley got the equaliser their endeavours deserved when Adam Hamdi popped up at the far post to head home from close range; 76 minutes on the clock.
Alongside Edgware, Wembley and Ascot share the record for the fewest league draws this season – two – so it came as no surprise that the sides went for a winner. However, the respective ‘keepers produced fine interventions to retain parity; Forster doing brilliantly well to stand up to a clean-through Devante Jones eight minutes from time before Wealands’ tremendous double save to deny both Keaton August and then Harry Grant at the other end three minutes later.
But with fellow pacesetters Reading City also letting their lead slip to draw 2-2 with Wallingford and Crowmarsh, it was a decent weekend for The Yellamen.