Jamie’s magic torch shines bright in fog
Ascot United goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown produced arguably one of the best saves of his illustrious career as his side went on win against fast-improving Wallingford and Crowmarsh on Tuesday evening. Facing a second-half penalty, the big ‘keeper produced a sensational double save to thwart the visitors, before his side went on to win it courtesy of Brendan Matthew.
After initially looking like they would be in a relegation dogfight, the visitors came into the game in good form with 16 points from their last 21 available and looking good for at least a healthy mid-table finish.
In front of a sparse crowd, Ascot might have scored twice in the opening two minutes when Harry Grant’s deflected effort fizzed over before brother Alfie Grant’s header from the resultant corner was well held low-down by Sam Baldock.
Usman Lalustani then saw an effort scooped off the line after he squeezed the ball past Baldock from Jordan Ajanlekoko’s delivery, whereas the visitors’ best effort came from the boot of Euan Aitchinson soon afterwards when he volleyed a speculative effort wide.
Jay Welch’s powerful shot through a crowded penalty area was well saved again by Baldock – Ajanlekoko with the assist once again – but it remained goalless at the break.
The second half followed a similar pattern with Ascot having most of the chances, and Matthew spurned the best of them when he dragged wide of a gaping net from Lalustani’s left-wing cross; Lalustani’s trickery taking him clear of his marker.
When Wallingford posed a threat Ashdown was on hand to avert danger – 63 minutes on the clock when Ty Hamilton and Caelan Isaac linked up – but Ashdown stood firm to beat away a stinging cross-shot.
Harry Grant then volleyed wide and impressive substitute Marcus Mealing’s brilliant first touch from Cameron Gray’s long ball teed up a shot that Baldock beat away, but The Yellamen couldn’t find a way through.
And, as the earlier fog cleared, it looked as if Ascot’s long unbeaten run would be compromised when Chris Ellis was penalised in the 73rd minute – penalty to Wally – and it was Callum Young versus Ashdown.
Young elected for the bottom right, Ashdown guessed correctly and dived down low to save – but the ball broke kindly to the feet of Young. Incredibly, Young then rifled the rebound just off centre-left only for Ashdown to somehow recover from his position wide of the goalmouth with sprawling hands of steel to divert the rebound away for a corner; simply outstanding.
And, just six minutes later the ball was in the back of the net at the other end; Matthew in the right place at the right time to volley home McCormack’s sublime cross after he had earlier raced onto Ajanlekoko’s lofted pass to make it 1-0.
Matthew almost added a second in added time when he rounded Baldock after racing onto Mealing’s intelligent through ball, but his shot was cleared off the line.
The Yellamen then endured six minutes of added time for a win that strengthened their grip at the top.
Ascot United: Ashdown, Gerrard (Gallimore 86’), Ajanlekoko, A. Grant (Ellis 58’), Bouwers (Bailey 58’), McCormack, H. Grant, Matthew, Lalustani (Walters 58’), Welch (Mealing 58’), Gray.