Wycombe go wandering into next round with 1-0 win
Threadbare Ascot United Women were knocked out of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup 1-0 by Wycombe Wanderers on Sunday afternoon. In a poor spectacle, Katie Riddington’s goal early in the second half was enough to see the visitors through to the third and final qualifying round.
To boldly go where no Ascot team has gone before?
The Yellawomen had progressed to the first round proper last season and were only beaten on penalties by Dartford, and they knew they needed to navigate their way past league rivals Wycombe, plus one more qualifying round, if they were to at least match last season’s record-run to the first round proper. But Wanderers arrived looking to avenge an earlier league defeat in an all step-five clash; one of 128 ties on Sunday for teams at steps five, six and seven.
Depleted Yellawomen overrun in midfield
Ascot were without striker Nicole Brown and defender Chloe Connor (both injured), together with influential Izzy Woods, Dom Carrington, Sarah Leonard and Tiff Skinner (unavailable), so it was a day when their strength and depth would need to shine.
As it transpired, the first half was low on quality, with Wanderers bossing midfield but woefully abject with the ball in the finally third.
Early on, Ascot defender Laura Spark headed over from a corner, but it was 37 minutes before the next meaningful chance – a speculative dipping effort from Wycombe’s ex-Yellawoman Sarah Davern – but it dipped over and wide.
Home ‘keeper Nicole Spittle then produced the good and the bad; an ugly attempt to play out gifted Wanderers a corner, but Spittle’s quite brilliant diving reaction save low to her left in the ensuing play certainly atoned.
There was still time for Philippa Holden’s corner to cause chaos in the visitors’ penalty area as Ascot threatened in first-half injury time, and had Amelia Kimble been aware the ball had bounced just in front of her she would have been in the box seat to convert; sadly the chance disappeared and the half ended predictably goalless.
Wanderers strike early and keep it tight
The second half was only four minutes old when Riddington dealt what turned out to be the killer blow, capitalizing on Ascot’s inability to retain possession before rounding Spittle and slotting home, despite the efforts of covering defender Sarah Killick-Bird.
Ascot’s Stand-out Ascot player Kate Fox then saw her shot well saved by Chelsea Coles after Hayley Cruickshank’s press had overturned possession, although Coles would later produce a better save from Fox when clean through after Kimble had unpicked the visiting defence with a sublime through-ball.
Ascot can’t get rid of Riddington
But Wanderers still posed a threat and Riddington would go close on a trio of occasions. Firstly, her attempted lob lacked enough pace to beat Spittle when impressive defender Emily McCartney had turned provider – that effort in between Fox’s chances for Ascot – before a 67th minute effort that cannoned back off the inside of the right-hand post. And, her 73rd minute effort was a powerful strike that Spittle got enough gloves on before she claimed the loose ball on the goal-line.
Katie Vince added late vigour from the bench for Ascot, but she and her side would rue an otherwise bad day at the office.
What’s next for Ascot?
It’s a first-versus-second clash next weekend when Bournemouth Sports visit The Racecourse. The Yellawomen will quickly need to regroup as the focus is now on the league.
Ascot United: Spittle, Luckhurst-McCord, Killick-Bird (Huntley 66’), Spark, Todd, Sheppard (Vince 82’), Fox, Holden, Cruickshank, Kimble, Yewings (Richardson-Taylor 54’). Sub unused): Allen.
Reporter’s Star Player (joint): Emily McCartney – WWFC – solid at the back and good distribution. Made the right decisions. Kate Fox – AUFC – full of energy, creative and got into good shooting positions.
Attendance (estimate): 95