“They’ve got hunger, desire and importantly the confidence and belief in what they can achieve” says Coach Alix Todd on the season so far

#WeAreAscot

We’ve reached the halfway point of another season in the Premier Division of the Southern Region Premier League as the Yellas take a break for the Christmas period so let’s reflect on the 2022/23 season so far.

Squad development

Darrel Evans kept hold of the hard-working core players whilst announcing a new club captain in Sarah Davern but bolstered his ranks with a number of new players joining including Hannah Bennett from AFC Bournemouth, Sarah Killick-Bird from AFC Acorns, Tiff Skinner from Walton & Hersham and Lucie White from Queens Park Rangers. Players from the Girls Youth U18 side have also stepped up to First Team this year in Chloe Connor, Amelia Kimble, Teya Uppal and Ruby Vines. Last but not least, Dom Carrington was welcomed back from New Milton Town having played for the side whilst at University.

Results

The Yellas have nine league games under their belts having registered six wins, 2 draws and just one loss which sees them sit second as they head into the Christmas break four points behind league leaders Abingdon United and ahead the same number of third placed Bournemouth Sports. The Yellas kicked off their season against Abingdon United securing a 2-1 win with goals from Sarah Leonard and Hannah Bennett whilst holding Sports to a 0-0 draw at the end of October.

‘My highlights are a little less than everyone else’s as I’ve been injured for forever but I’d say the win against Abingdon United at the start of the season. It really set the tone of what we wanted to be about this season and what we were capable of.  Scoring and winning the penalty was obviously great for me but the team performance as a whole was a massive highlight.’

Sarah Leonard’s highlight of the season so far

As it stands, the Yellas have twelve different goalscorers from right across the pitch on the scoresheet with Nicole Brown storming ahead on thirteen goals to her name and Dom Carrington firmly in second place with seven netted. Meanwhile, an unlikely pair share the third spot in Sarah Leonard and Georgia Luckhurst-McCord proving the versatility of the squad this year with four goals each.

Results

Ascot United 2-1 Abingdon United (Leonard, Bennett)
Ascot United 6-1 Abingdon Town (Carrington, Brown, Leonard, Brown, Leonard, Skinner)
Eastleigh 1-0 Ascot United
Oxford City 0-7 Ascot United (Kimble, Brown, Davern, Spark, Woods, Todd, Carrington)
Ascot United 0-0 Bournemouth Sports
Ascot United 1-1 Wycombe Wanderers (Carrington)
Ascot United 2-1 Eastleigh (Brown, Brown)
Wycombe Wanderers 1-5 Ascot United (Carrington, Brown, Davern, Brown, Spark)
Ascot United 6-1 Oxford City (Woods, Carrington, Luckhurst-McCord, Brown, Brown, Brown)

“The away day at Oxford City, we played so well as a team and there were seven different goalscorers.”

Nicole Brown’s highlight of the season

Thoughts from the Gaffer

Manager, Darrel Evans gives his thoughts on the squad, the FA Cup, the title race and what’s to come from 2023 and the squad.

Amelia Kimble & Chloe Connor in First Team action Photo: David Bell
Amelia Kimble & Chloe Connor in First Team action Photo: David Bell

“After retaining a large part of last season’s group and some great additions plus the emergence of players from our JPL Girls Youth U18 team, the squad has never had such depth in quality. And to kick off the season by defeating the title favourites’ on the opening day of the season was a real indication that this could be a special season and as we go into the Christmas and New Year break we are still very much in the title race and in the League Cup.

We have had to deal with quite a few injuries, illnesses, holidays, etc where we have had players out for quite a number of weeks but no matter what the team have had to deal with players have seamlessly stepped in players have raised their game and performances have remained high quality.

The highlight of the season so far was again to reach the First Round Proper of the FA Cup. The support we had that day was immense and to have so many of our supporters travel to Dartford to support us was unbelievable. Unfortunately, we went out 8-7 on penalties after the game ended 2-2 but if VAR was in operation I’d like to think we could well of won the game in 90 minutes and maybe helped us in the shoot out, those at the game would know what I mean. However, we were very close to reaching the Second Round Proper for the first time and hopefully that will arrive next season as we continue our development.

Going into Christmas we have progressed to the Second Round of the League Cup and it’s nine years since the team were in a cup Final so we still have that target very much on our radar in the New Year.

Last weekend’s league win vs Oxford City has seen us go into the break second in the league and with only eight teams in the Premier Division we have a unique situation where we have five games left and five wins will see us promoted to the National League Division One South West alongside fellow Berkshire club Maidenhead. Though, this is the same situation for both our title rivals Abingdon United and Bournemouth Sports. We can’t wait for the restart in the New Year, our remaining five league games are going to feel like cup finals and the top three teams still have to play each other so there could well be plenty of twists and turns in the race for the title.

It’s early days in the League Cup, but the form the team are in, well we are due a visit to a cup final so hopefully we can make that a reality this season. It’s going to be an interesting second half of the season that’s for sure.

Cup runs

Cup competitions were kicked off for the Yellas back in early September when Tier 4 side, Maidenhead United were welcomed to the Racecourse in the Berks & Bucks Senior Cup and a county run wasn’t meant to be as the visitors put three past Ascot.

But the Yellas had little time to dwell on the lack of Berks & Bucks action as they took the short trip to Milton United in the Second Round Qualifying of the FA Cup securing a place in the next round with a 3-1 win with goals from Hannah Bennett, Dom Carrington and Sarah Leonard.

Next up, was a home tie with fellow Tier 5 side AFC Acorns of the South East & London Regional Football League in the Third Round Qualifying and a unique fixture as Sarah Killick-Bird would face her former side and her sister.

FA Cup results

Milton United 1-3 Ascot United (Leonard, Bennett, Carrington)
Ascot United 5-0 AFC Acorns (Cruickshank, Carrington, Brown, Bennett, Luckhurst-McCord)
Dartford 2-2 Ascot United (Luckhurst-McCord, Luckhurst-McCord) Pens 8-7

A place booked in the First Round Proper after a convincing 5-0 win with five scorers on the sheet in Hayley Cruickshank, Dom Carrington, Nicole Brown, Hannah Bennett and Georgia Luckhurst-McCord. A clean sheet for Lucie White including a missed penalty by the visitors.

Related: Two for joy as it’s a family affair in the FA Cup Third Round Qualifying

A coach trip to Prince’s Park to face Dartford would prove to be equal parts pride and heartbreak as the girls put in a valiant performance but a goal ruled offside in the final moments of the 90 minutes took the game to extra time where neither side could break the 2-2 deadlock before penalties knocked the Yellas out 7-8 to Dartford.

‘My highlight of the season is scoring both goals in the FA Cup against Dartford at Prince’s Park’

Georgia Luckhurst-McCord’s highlight of the season so far
Georgia Luckhurst-McCord has her very own Brandi Chastain & Chloe Kelly moment after scoring in the First Round Proper of the FA Cup Photo: David Bell
Georgia Luckhurst-McCord has her very own Brandi Chastain & Chloe Kelly moment after scoring in the First Round Proper of the FA Cup Photo: David Bell

The Yellas also kicked off their Southern Region Women’s League Cup campaign in December when they played host to Division One North side Woodley United in the First Round winning 4-0 putting them through to the next round, goals from Nicole Brown, Tiff Skinner and Izzy Woods. The draw for the next round is yet to take place.

‘Scoring my first goal for the club.’

Hannah Bennett’s highlight of the season so far

Coach thoughts on the season so far

Alix Todd coaching ahead of the FA Cup tie against AFC Acorns Photo: David Bell
Alix Todd coaching ahead of the FA Cup tie against AFC Acorns Photo: David Bell

We caught up with player-coach, Alix Todd, on new faces, the team in the face of adversity and what we can expect to see from the squad in 2023. Here’s what she had to say

This season we welcomed Josh Jaswal to the back staff team in a coaching role and we asked Alix what impact bringing Josh onboard has had.

“Adding Josh has been great, it’s really helped to enhance the tactical feedback and to share some of the load of training and games. For me personally I love having more people to bounce things off, to grow my own knowledge and understanding, and all those things can only help the collective. It’s also a massive boost for the group to have someone else shouting advice and support from the sidelines.”

The FA Cup heartbreak was a lot to take but the team have won all four games since that game so we asked Alix what it says about the adversity & ambition of this team.

“This group is incredible, they’ve always been resilient from way back before I re-joined them, but now they’ve got hunger, desire and importantly the confidence and belief in what they can achieve. The FA Cup was devastating but more than anything it opened the groups eyes as to what is possible for us moving forward and just how far this team can go.”


The team are done for the year now having played their last game against Oxford City, a 7-0 rout, we asked Alix how she’s feeling going into the Christmas break.

“Confused… what are you meant to do with your time when there’s no match and training to prepare for? Asking a friend? In all seriousness, we’ve finished off the year playing some of our best football, learning new things about ourselves and the group, and fine tuning key aspects so I’m as happy as I can be … I’m never satisfied but I am happy. There’s certainly no room for complacency, we’ve got a very tough second half of the season with most our games away and the league top spot really heating up it’s going to be an incredible run to Easter especially with the League Cup also to look forward to.


And finally, we asked Alix what to expect from the squad in 2023.

“You can expect 100%, you can expect us to give every ounce we have to both the league and League Cup. As always the aim will be to grow, develop and to continue to strengthen. 2023 should see the pathway get even stronger, it would be incredible to see some silverware but we will take each game as it comes and keep the focus internal. Darrel and me have our objectives, the group have theirs, and we continue to work towards them.

Up the Yellas!

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