|06/10/2023||19:45||West London Veterans Football League||2023-2024|
|Racecourse Ground 3G 11-a-side|
|Sunninghill and Ascot, Ascot, Windsor and Maidenhead, South East, England, United Kingdom|
6 October 2023
Ascot United Vets 1-0 Croxley Green Vets
The top two in the West London Vets League’s (WLVFL) premier division faced off at the Racecourse Ground on Friday 6th October. Ultimately, Ascot United came through and secured the three points, but Croxley Green certainly pushed them all the way….
“It really is soul-destroying” commentated gaffer Dave Good to BBC Five Live’s Mark Chapman after the game. “I’ve spent months working the networks until finally I got my man. Tonmo, our new Finish import, is going to bring Nordic efficiency and effectiveness to everything we do, so to lose him to a freak accident just hours before the game really was a smack in the teeth”. Good was clearly still coming to terms with the team’s loss. Tonmo, meanwhile, was souped up on pain killers and following the score updates from his digs. He’s sharing with Mike Tomlinson, apparently…..
Be that as it may (and everyone really does wish Tommo a speedy recovery from his nasty knock on the bonce), Ascot still put out a decent side and were confident that they could make it three out of three. Croxley, however, weren’t just there for the egg sandwiches afterwards. They’d won their first two and had clearly recruited well in the summer. A decent game was on the cards.
A good crowd in and around the pavilion also enjoyed the sight of club chairman Simon Negus, club legend Doug Page and Dan Hough trying to fathom out how to use the electronic scoreboard. The scene felt like a cross between the 1989 Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder film ‘See No Evil, Hear No Evil’ and something from ‘Last of the Summer Wine’. The odds on the three of them actually fathoming out how to get the scoreboard to work lengthened by the minute. It wasn’t until Kate White (partner of Ascot’s holding midfielder, Phil) came along and calmly sorted out an online instruction manual that progress was made. 20 minutes into the game and finally there was light…..
In terms of the game itself, Ascot made a near perfect start by scoring early; Sam McIntrye pounced on a defensive mistake to smash the ball into the top corner. Croxley, however, were clearly well-organised and also had a plan. That plan involved letting Ascot have the ball, sitting deep before then unleashing the number two on the left when they did get a bit of possession. Despite the fact that Nick Beard didn’t have that many saves to make, it was a plan that certainly had a modicum of logic to it.
Still, it was Ascot who created most of the chances. Croxley’s high defensive line was asking to be broken and sure enough Mike Lewis and Adam Moroney did that with alarming (for the visitors) regularity. The fact that Glenn Johnson had to come on for McIntrye didn’t stop the Yellas from producing a range of flowing moves, the only thing that was missing was the decisive touch at the end. Half-time approached and the score stayed 1-0.
The second half looked and felt much like the first. Croxley were always dangerous on the break, but the masses on Ascot’s version of the Kippax still felt that the game’s next goal was likely to go Ascot’s way. The hosts had their chances, too. Neil Corbett thundered forward down the left, whilst Karl Small did much the same on the right. Mikey Lewis kept unlocking the door, whilst Glenn Johnson and Adam Moroney both had their moments. Yet, that second goal just wouldn’t come.
As the game entered the final ten minutes, the feeling on the terraces was that Croxley were always going to get that one chance to take a point away from the game. And, sure enough, with just a couple of minutes remaining a decent corner found its way towards a Croxley head. Jeff Lamb, a household Ascot name but a debutant for the Vets, did a super job of putting the Croxley attacker off. The ball went over the bar and everyone breathed again.
Ultimately, this was a game where there could and probably should have been goals galore. But, some profligate finishing, a bit of over-playing here and there, some good defending and some decent keeping meant that Sam McIntrye’s early goal was the difference between the sides.
Regardless of what happens elsewhere in the WLVFL this weekend, Ascot United will be top come Monday morning. Croxley probably won’t be second any more, but the sound money is definitely on them finishing top half. They looked much improved on 2022-23.
Ascot United won’t, however, have any time to marvel at their own progress. Next week they travel to Chiswick to play Chelsea Vets….
Team. Nick Beard, Anthony Everest, Toby Underwood, Chris Ferdinand, Matt Newall, Neil Corbett, Phil White, Mikey Lewis, Tim Standing, Sam McIntrye and Adam Moroney (c).
Subs. Jeff Lamb, Chris Watney, Glenn Johnson and Karl Small.
Goals. Sam McIntyre