ASCOT YOUTH STRIKE LATE TO DRAW WITH WESTFIELD IN THILLER

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George takes a bow-den with stoppage time equaliser

Ascot United Allied Under 18’s fought back from 3-1 down to draw 3-3 with Westfield in their crunch top-of-the table clash on Tuesday evening. The Young Yellamen scored with virtually the last kick of the game courtesy of George Bowden, to leave the Allied Youth League title destiny in their own hands with remaining games running out.

Heading into the game, the 2nd-placed Young Yellamen were one point below leaders Westfield with a game in hand, meaning that a draw or victory would keep the destiny of the title in their own hands with only a couple of matches remaining.

Westfield – unbeaten in the league since the opening day – showed their mettle as the first half progressed, although Ascot were themselves unbeaten in eight since their solitary league defeat of the league campaign, and they set about the visitors early-on.

Indeed, they could – and probably should – have been two-nil up inside the opening seven minutes – only for George Fairbairn to smack a post following a superb one-two with Matt Hurdwell before Hurdwell’s heavy touch when clean through moments later allowed visiting ‘keeper Ollie Foster the chance to gather.

At the other end, Archie Wells slashed over when off-balance, although after a decent spell his side took a 22nd minute lead when Jacob Breckon’s precise left-footed shot found the bottom right-hand corner across home ‘keeper James Docherty.

But The Yellamen forced their way back into it and after Hurdwell’s back-heel had allowed Oliver Mann the opportunity to shoot on the turn, his effort deflected wide for a corner. And, from the resultant corner, Toby Thompson was on hand to stab home after Foster had spilt Jack McCart’s delivery in the six yard box.

It might have been better for Ascot at the break only for Foster to redeem himself by tipping Harry Holden’s long-range effort over the crossbar just before the whistle, but it remained one-all as the two sides changed ends.

The second half wasn’t quite as rich on clear-cut chances, but certainly not lacking in drama in front of a sizeable midweek crowd.

Hurdwell made himself busy and showed good feet before glancing a later header wide, although out of nothing Westfield found themselves in front again on the hour mark when Thompson conceded a penalty; Elliot York finding the bottom left-hand corner with the spot-kick.

Ascot were then denied by a glove, woodwork and a flag in quick succession as Tom Bailey saw his free kick tipped onto the post by Foster, before Danny Walden clipped home in the recycled play only to be judged offside.

And it looked like the wind would be taken out of Ascot’s sails with just over twenty minutes to go when York scored again to make it 3-1, hammering home when a left-wing cross fell invitingly at his feet.

But the Young Yellamen showed incredible fight and only three minutes later, substitute Lawson Jones – thrown on alongside Alex Hall following Westfield’s third goal – won and then converted a spot-kick to cut the deficit.

It looked all over when Jones saw his free kick easily saved in the 90th minute, but with the fourth minute of stoppage time approaching his side mounted one last, desperate attack. McCart swung the ball in, it cannoned back into play off a combination of Foster and crossbar, and in the ensuing melee it was Bowden– applying the final touch to late substitute Will Chaisty’s flick-on – who snaffled home an equaliser to spark pandemonium on the pitch.

The deserved draw now leaves Ascot two wins from guaranteeing the title, although one win may be enough if Westfield fail to win their one remaining game later in March. But on this showing, they will be eager – and confident – to get the job done on their own watch.

And this was a tremendous advertisement for Allied Counties Youth Team football as the two sides were inseparable again after their 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture. It maybe a cliché, but it takes two to tango.

Ascot United: Docherty, Bailey, McCart, Bowden, Thompson, Walden, Mann, Pandhor, Hurdwell, Holden, Fairbairn. Subs used: Chaisty, Hall, Jones. Subs unused: Mason, Tomkins

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