Davies scores at the death in 3-3 thriller

Ascot United drew 3-3 with Abbey Rangers in a thoroughly entertaining Easter Monday derby. Having led and then come from behind to level at 2-2, it looked like Rangers would leave with an unlikely three points before substitute Ian Davies popped up with an equaliser four minutes into injury time.

Ascot came into the game unbeaten in seven games and with only two defeats in nineteen; good form to face 3rd-placed Abbey Rangers who had inflicted one of those defeats in the reverse fixture.

In a lively first-half, Daryl Cooper-Smith’s audacious eighth-minute effort from fully forty yards sailed narrowly over as Sam Gray was nearly punished for lurking way off his line, but Ascot struck first with a fine team goal in the 20th minute. Sean McCormack intercepted a wayward pass, played a one-two with Keaton August on the overlap, before drilling low across the six-yard box for Taylor Morgan to slide home.

But just after Marcus Williams had slotted home only to be denied by an offside flag, the visitors levelled when Gray elected to come for a deep cross that he ultimately failed to reach; Cooper-Smith not even needing to move as he cushioned a free header into the open goal.

Rangers looked shaky at the back and repeatedly failed to deal with Chris Ellis’s long throw-ins – Ascot should probably have converted one of a string of balls into their six-yard box – but Dan Bailey (28’ and 42’) either side of James Richardson (35’) all squandered decent headed opportunities.

However, Rangers had the last laugh of the half when Gray spilt Williams’s shot and Jack Watts poked home the loose ball in the 44th minute; a far easier chance than one that he had wasted seven minutes earlier with a flicked effort over Gray’s crossbar.

The second half was a rich in chances and most of them fell to a dominant Ascot who should have been out of sight before the late drama.

Their equaliser came five minutes after the restart which owed much to the brilliance of Duarte Surpanu, who mesmerized his marker before cutting the ball back from the by-line for Keaton August, who finished first-time with a neat-side footed effort into the far right corner.

Ascot were forced to reshuffle when Richardson hobbled off holding his hip, although replacement Kai Walters played his part and saw Dease Kerrigan save his 63rd minute effort after Morgan and Surpanu had linked up in the build-up.

After a further four substitutions, Ascot continued to press and McCormack found the side-netting with a free kick that Kerrigan would never have reached; Tom Scott having been initially fouled outside the area and becoming one of those replaced after taking one knock too many.

But Rangers reminded Ascot of their threat when Jae Kelly ghosted onto Williams’s deep cross fifteen minutes from time – Gray in the right place to save his bullet header – before Ascot went straight up the other end although August was superbly tackled as he shaped to shoot from Surpanu’s cross.

Ascot then wasted a gilt-edged chance to go ahead when McCormack somehow blazed over a gaping target with ten minutes remaining after August’s cross had left Kerrigan crumpled under Davies’s legitimate challenge.

And, it looked like Rangers had nabbed the points when Kelly scored in the 87th minute – brilliantly riding through three challenges before mustering more strength to fire into the bottom left – and with just one league draw all campaign the stats were not in Ascot’s favour of levelling.

But that they did, as deep into stoppage time Ascot had the final word when Davies got enough on McCormack’s late, late cross to head past a sprawling Kerrigan via the merest of deflections.

Overall it was great advert for the Combined Counties League and a feisty affair allowed to flow by excellent referee Jarnail Singh

Ascot United: Gray, Ellis (Masters), Bouwers, Bailey, Scott (C. Morgan), Harper (Merrick), McCormack, T. Morgan (Davies), August, Surpanu, Richardson (Walters).

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