Comfortable 4-1 victory leaves Ascot in hunt for triple crown
Ascot United eased to a 4-1 League Cup Quarter Final victory over London Lions on Tuesday evening, keeping them in the hunt for three separate trophies. Sitting at the top of the league and ninety minutes from an Isuzu FA Vase final, The Yellamen will now need to factor a league cup last-four tie into their busy run-in after beating their North London league rivals for the third time this season.
This was The Yellamen’s first outing since their historic FA Vase victory against West Didsbury and Chorlton, and London Lions stood between them and reaching another semi-final, albeit this time in front of a crowd not even one tenth of the size of the capacity 1300 watching in Manchester ten days earlier.
Ascot had already recorded a league double over the Lions, and manager Jamie Tompkins kept faith with many of his squad players for their third meeting as The Yellamen prepare for up to three games per week in a brutally congested run-in.
But the much-changed starting eleven – once again boasting youngster Luke Phillips and the returning Harry Laflin – were almost out of sight by half time in a devastating first-half display as good as witnessed in recent weeks.
It was only four minutes when Ascot took the lead as Marcus Mealing and Keaton August fashioned the chance – the latter’s well-placed low cross inviting Mealing to do what all good strikers do – get into the right position to slot home at the far post.
Visiting ‘keeper Nathan Bloom then saved well from August shortly afterwards, but it was 2-0 in the 14th minute when Mealing’s exquisite through ball invited Usman Lalustani to race onto, and he opened his body before slotting low into the bottom right with his right foot.
Mealing then saw another shot saved before covering defender Jake Rinsler bravely threw himself in front of the rebound, and Ascot were thwarted by Bloom once again when Lalustani cut in from the left and fired a low effort that was beaten away.
Mealing then skied a penalty over the bar in the 33rd minute – although justice was arguably done in the aftermath of a weak shove on August that was harshly penalized – although the visitors would lose defender Benji Weinberger to the sin bin for his remonstrations.
The Lions survived those ten minutes of numerical inferiority, so it would come as a frustration to them that they conceded again on the stroke of half time when Lalustani had too much time, pace and skill to slot under Bloom from a central position for an unassailable 3-0 half-time lead (pictured, shooting-stars.co.uk).
The second half didn’t match the first in terms of chances, but when the first arrived it was arguably the goal of the night when prolific visiting ‘striker Austin Lipman did what he does best in leathering a direct free-kick into the top left before anyone could blink; Lipman himself earlier fouled to tee up the thunderbolt.
For Ascot, youngster Luke Phillips impressed on the left-wing once again and the equally impressive Kai Walters might have done better from one of his deliveries midway through the half only to flash his header over the crossbar.
A flurry of changes left Ascot with fresh legs, although the last of them produced the fourth and final goal merely seconds after his introduction. And, it was none other than top scorer Brendan Matthew who skipped off the bench to be fouled in the box merely ten seconds after his introduction, and he picked himself up to plant home the resultant spot-kick less than sixty seconds later to make it 4-1.
But that was enough, as the Yellamen comfortably wound down the clock aided by the energetic Sam Balogun, who was a stand-out performer on only his third appearance for the club. The Yellamen will now savour every minute of 48 hours’ rest before visiting Holyport on Thursday evening.
Ascot United: Negus, Lock (Welch 71’), Phillips, Ellis, Tucker, Mealing, Lalustani (McCormack 71’), Balogun, Walters (Matthew 76’), August, Laflin (Ajanlekoko 71’). Sub unused: Gerrard