3-1 win leaves fans in Devon Heaven
Ascot United cruised into the Emirates FA Vase fifth round with an ultimately comfortable 3-1 win at Toolstation Western League outfit Buckland Athletic on Saturday. In a tie twice postponed due to the weather, The Yellamen’s 350-mile round trip to Devon was rewarded thanks to goals from Sean McCormack, Brendan Matthew and Jordan Ajanlekoko, teeing up a fifth round date at Bridgwater United.
Ascot enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the opening thirty minutes and could have led only for ‘keeper Andy Collings to thwart McCormack with his legs after he had raced onto George Lock’s pass early-on, before McCormack turned provider for Usman Lalustani who ghosted onto the former’s cross but could only toe-poke wide on the volley under pressure.
But the visitors’ best chance came when Harry Grant played in Matthew, only for Matthew to dither when clean through, electing to try and pick out Lalustani instead of shooting; the latter then penalised for offside.
But Buckland grew into the game and after Ryan Bush couldn’t get enough on his shot to trouble Jamie Ashdown, the impressive Finn Roberts’ rising effort fizzed over before a later shot from the same player sailed just wide of the left-hand post.
But Ascot would score twice on the stroke of half time – with Buckland Athletic still looking dangerous – as firstly McCormack swept home in the 44th minute after Lalustani had beat his marker and cut the ball back, before Matthew nodded home directly from Harry Grant’s injury time corner to given The Yellamen a 2-0 lead at the break.
After the interval, Ajanlekoko put further distance between the two sides when he thumped home through a crowd of players after Harry Grant’s 51st minute corner had only been half-cleared, much to the delight of their thirty-or-so travelling supporters.
Ashdown made decent saves to deny Josh Webber and substitute Scott Crocker from cutting the deficit, before comfortably saving Jared Lewington when he attempted to flick home Sam Marcom’s delivery.
And even when Crocker’s fresh legs took him clear of the exceptional Lock, Rob Gerrard’s intelligent cover thwarted what would have been a shot on goal.
Ascot almost added a fourth when Rob Farkins cleared off the line in front of Ascot’s increasingly raucous following, although Buckland never stopped pressing and after Ashdown’s sprawling save had denied Crocker form long range in the second of eight added minutes, the visitors bagged an even later consolation when Lewington thumped home amidst a melee.
Players and fans exchanged mutual respect for each other at full time, but it’s soon back to business for Ascot on Tuesday, and their next road trip is only a fortnight away when they will bid for a place in the quarter finals.
Ascot United: Ashdown, Lock, Gerrard, Ajanlekoko, A. Grant, Bailey, McCormack, H. Grant, Matthew (Mealing 70’), Lalustani (August 70’), Welch (Gallimore 47’). Subs unused: Gray, Ellis