Captain Bouwers marks milestone with goal
Ascot United marched to a 3-0 victory against Harefield United on Easter Saturday, further strengthening their position at the top of the table after Reading City lost against Egham Town.
Manager Jamie Tompkins named a virtually full-strength side, including captain Louis Bouwers who was making his 200th appearance for The Yellamen.
Ascot were excellent in the first half and sprayed the ball around the park at will, dominating possession until The Hares finally escaped their own half and Trey Pender-Brown fired wide of the near post; home ‘keeper Rhys Forster untroubled.
But shortly after Brendan Matthew’s looping header had been plucked from the under crossbar by visiting ‘keeper Jacob Ballheimer, the visitors went up the other and almost scored when Pender-Brown raced onto Steven Green’s excellent pass and delivered a right-wing cross that ex-Yellamen Gurkan Gokmen curled onto the inside of the right-hand post.
After that scare, Ascot attacked relentlessly and after Rob Gerrard’s dangerous cross had earnt his side a corner, Bouwers got on the end of Harry Tucker’s resultant corner with a thumping header to make it 1-0 on his milestone appearance (pictured scoring, shooting-stars.co.uk).
Two minutes later and it was 2-0. A fine flowing move started with Jay Welch expertly pick-pocketing the ball back in midfield, pinging the ball over the defence and Sean McCormack’s first-time cross was tucked away by Matthew.
Ballheimer’s fingertip save then turned Grant’s thunderous drive onto the crossbar and Welch fired wide after another brilliant move involving Matthew, McCormack, and Usman Lalustani, but Harefield held on.
Ballheimer saved his side again shortly before the break – using his legs to thwart Matthew – but 2-0 it remained.
Had the second half been a boxing contest it would have been stopped early-on after an Ascot onslaught that yielded chance after chance.
Harefield’s already-tiring legs were not helped when defender Green was sin-binned for dissent, although they somehow survived a ten-minute spell during which George Lock was denied by Ballheimer, Lalustani fired wide, Welch saw a shot saved and Grant’s flashing header missed the top left.
Man-of-the match Bouwers then nearly repeated his earlier trick with a thumping header that Ben Stallard cleared off the line although the visitors continued to work hard and Forster showed good hands to hold Oliver Wontner’s deflected shot through a crowd at the other end.
Matthew then robbed a defender before cutting back to Grant who could only volley a difficult first-time chance wide – still twenty minutes remaining – leaving the home fans purring in admiration but equally wondering how they had failed to score.
But after making all five substitutions it was one of them – Kai Walters – who tricked his way through the visiting defence in the third minute of injury time and although the angle was against him right of goal he fired a shot low across Ballheimer and in off the left-hand post to make it 3-0.
The Yellamen will now enjoy a well-deserved Easter egg or two before Monday’s trip to Wallingford. They cannot mathematically win the league in Oxfordshire, but with a 14-point lead they may not even need to take a single point from their remaining six games as teams around them continue to stutter.
Ascot United: Forster, Lock, Gerrard (Ellis 70’), Ajanlekoko, Bouwers, Tucker, McCormack, H. Grant (Walters 77’), Matthew (Mealing 77’), Lalustani (August 67’), Welch (Balogun 75’).