Brendan nets four in 6-2 FA Trophy win
A Brendan-Matthew inspired Ascot United produced a devastating second half display to overpower Lancing in the Isuzu FA Trophy on Saturday afternoon. Ascot led early-on and looked like they were in for a battle when resurgent Lancing levelled, but they crucially regained the lead on the stroke of half time before delivering a second half masterclass to book their place in Monday’s third qualifying round draw.
Cup congestion a nice problem for Yellamen
Ascot were playing their eleventh game of the season, although such is the calendar for both national FA competitions entered, this was their seventh cup match. Lancing, playing in the equivalent South-East division of the Isthmian League, were conquerors of Ascot’s league rivals Chipstead in the first round to set up what looked like a well-matched game on paper.
Third time lucky for Ascot?
Manager Jamie Tompkins had bemoaned his side’s lack of reward in their past two games – they had impressed in single-goal defeats against big guns Leatherhead and Lewes – but their Sussex opponents would also prove stubborn opposition for spells of the first half.
Newbie Ryan Case and Harvey Killeen were the only changes to the Ascot starting line-up as George Lock (unavailable) and Sammy Balogun (bench) both made way.
The early signs looked promising as Matthew gave his side a fourth minute lead; coolly teeing himself up before tickling a subtle effort into the right hand corner from Jordan Ajanlekoko’s pass after Killeen had initially won back possession.
At the other end, Huge Sobte was at full stretch to tip Lukas Franzen-Jones’ effort over the crossbar following a flowing move involving a brace of Alex’s – Laing and Plummer – but their next attempt would yield a goal.
Lancers’ defender Sim in spotlight
As it turned out, the visitors’ equalizer saw defender Kyle Sim in the spotlight as his heavy tackle on Killeen might have otherwise been penalized. However, it was deemed fair and won back possession for his side, and in the aftermath of Killeen lying crumpled on the ground, Franzen-Jones took advantage by checking back onto his right and curling over Sobte; 1-1 and 27 minutes played.
But Ascot responded well and after defender Dan Hull had brilliantly cut out Matthew’s left-wing cross, Sim was involved again when he failed to deal with Usman Lalustani’s cross and Matthew (pictured, shooting-stars.co.uk) fired low into the bottom right to restore Ascot’s lead in first half stoppage time.
Brilliant Brendan fires Ascot to victory
Whilst there is no doubt that Ascot have scoring potential all across the park, in Matthew they have a striker who once again showed his ruthlessness, taking his tally to 13 goal from 11 matches this season and 60 from 65 since he joined The Yellamen last term.
It took just two minutes of the second half to score his and Ascot’s third; slotting low into the bottom right when clean through after a mass-press led to overturned possession in his side’s favour.
At the other end, Sobte was making his mark with incredible distribution; his 54th minute drop kick onto a sixpence for Usman Lalustani opened up Lancing, although Secka saved from the lively winger before Harry Grant’s follow-up was blocked.
But Secka would have egg on his face in the 59th minute, passing straight to Killeen, who took a touch and fired into an empty net to make it 4-1.
McCormack then turned provider for Matthew to round Secka for number five, before more Sobte brilliance ended with another Lalustani run and save, although this time McCormack was on hand to mop up and make it six.
Edwards maintains standards as Jay hits half century
At this point there was still a quarter of the game remaining and Lancing tried to salvage some pride, only for defender Josh Edwards to mop up for Ascot on a trio of occasions.
Jay Welch, off the bench for his 50th appearance in a yellow shirt, might have made it seven late-on following sublime interchange from his team-mates, although Secka’s save blew the candles out on an already-iced cake.
And just after hitting the woodwork, Lancing grabbed a stoppage time consolation – incredibly it was Sobte whose earlier distribution failed him – and Franzen-Jones scored his second with a neat finish into the left.
But take nothing away from Ascot – even Lock wouldn’t have won player of the match for yet another game on this occasion – Matthew home taking the match ball and a bit more on a day when The Yellamen delighted all but a handful of the 162-strong crowd.
What’s next for Ascot?
It’ll be all-eyes on Monday’s draw before the cup congestion continues with a midweek trip to Badshot Lea in the Velocity Cup on Tuesday, ahead of normal service resuming when Sutton Common Rovers visit in a league match next weekend.
Ascot United: Sobte, Tucker (Bailey 64’), Edwards, McCormack (McCoy 74’), H. Grant, Ajanlekoko, Matthew (Welch 70’), Lahtinen-Kalsi, Lalustani, Killeen, Case. Subs unused: Sykes, Balogun, Gater
Reporter’s Star Man: Brendan Matthew (Ascot United)
Away fans (estimate): 5