|18/11/2022||19:45||West London Veterans Football League||2022-2023|
|Racecourse Ground 3G 11-a-side|
|Sunninghill and Ascot, Ascot, Windsor and Maidenhead, South East, England, United Kingdom|
18 November 2022
Ascot United 6-4 Sporting Kitz
Ascot United won a proper ding, dong, doo of an encounter against Sporting Kitz on 18 November. The Yellamen surged into a four goal lead before Kitz fought back and made it 4-4 in the 90th minute. Somehow, Ascot responded….scoring two goals in injury time whilst also missing arguably the game’s best chance with the last kick of the evening. Breathless, breezy and brilliant from both sides.
Ascot United’s 1st XI entered the West London Vets’ League three years ago precisely to play in fixtures like this. Sporting Kitz, a long-standing and high-quality Vets’ side, had visited the Racecourse before, but never in league football. Kitz were unbeaten in the league in 2022-23 and no one in yellow was in any doubt as to the challenge that lay ahead of them.
Yet 20 minutes into the game and Ascot found themselves 4-0 up. Rob Saunders set up Adam Moroney with a delicious through ball for the first before Ben Standing turned on a six pence and coolly slotted home the second. Standing then turned provider, swaying those hips like he was auditioning for a place on Strictly, before teeing up Saunders. He made no mistake. Standing was also at the centre of things little more than 60 seconds later, foxing the keeper before putting the ball on a plate for Dave Simpson to side foot home.
You’d think that scoring four goals in little more than ten minutes would mean job done, game over. Erm, no. Not by a long shot. None of the bumper crowd massed on the Kippax Terrace were under any illusions about how Kitz would approach the rest of the game. They’d keep coming and that is indeed precisely what they did.
Rich Harrison soon found himself racing out of his goal (twice) to snuff out dangerous moves, before then making three good saves with the goal at Kitz players’ mercy. Throw in an effort that smashed against the bar plus a couple that snuck wide and over and Kitz were already hurling the kitchen sink at the Yellamen.
It looked as if the hosts would nonetheless be able to hold out until half-time. No such luck. A Kitz counter saw the comeback officially begin as their centre-forward neatly slotted home. 4-1 at the break and still plenty of work to do.
One of the most tired clichés in football is that ‘the next goal is very important’. Well, cliché though it may be, there was a lot of truth in it at the Racecourse on Friday. Stu Birkett was doing his best to make it happen for Ascot, putting in some lung-busting runs to try and get on the end of crosses. Nearly, nearly, but not quite.
Mike Tomlinson, Berkshire’s version of Claude Makele, harried and hounded, whilst the troika of Saunders, Standing (B) and Moroney were an ever-present danger on the break. It was nonetheless Kitz that made more chances, not that the watching Doug Page will have seen too many of them – he spent most of the second half retrieving footballs from far-flung parts of the racecourse. For all their impressive play, Kitz’s shooting left a fair bit to be desired.
With 72 minutes on the clock Kitz did nonetheless pull another back. It was a simple goal, too; a long ball forward bounced around until a Kitz player neatly lobbed Harrison from 25 yards out. A minute later and it was 4-3, a scramble from a corner ultimately ending up in the back of the net. Cue squeaky bum time on the Kippax. A crescendo of a finish was incoming.
That being said, Ascot took the strain well enough. Kitz missed another excellent chance with four minutes left, but as the game moved into the 90th minute it looked like Ascot were just about going to get there. Cue another corner, another mess and another goal. 4-4.
At that point, Ascot would probably have taken the point. Kitz were in the ascendancy and if a goal was going to come from anywhere in injury time then Kitz were the favourites to get it.
Football, as Jimmy Greaves used to like saying, is a ‘funny old game’. Ascot kept possession and Rob Saunders eventually found himself with the ball at his feet on the left of the Kitz box. He played it into Ben Standing via Adam Moroney, and the Ascot skipper made no mistake from ten yards out. Cue celebrations on the pitch and indeed amongst the massed hordes watching on the sidelines.
Surely that was that? Well, no. 97 minutes in and Stuart Tanfield popped up on the left to coolly and calmly score the tenth goal of the evening. 6-4, and the Yellas really were home and hosed now. Even then, 30 seconds later Tanfield found himself clean through with only the keeper to beat … he had all the time in the world and that was very likely the problem. The keeper saved and the referee finally blew his whistle and brought the game to an end.
Any win against Sporting Kitz is a good win. They are a good side and the fact they came back from four goals down says a lot about their resilience. That the game could easily have been 10-10 also says a fair bit about the quality of the attacking players out there.
The decent sized crowd of onlookers enjoyed a magnificent game of football, too. Indeed, if anyone ever wanted an advert for how good Vets’ football can be, then this game would be it.
Great work one and all.
Team; Rich Harrison, Laurence Munns, Jon Keough, Chris Ferdinand, Dave Simpson, Toby Underwood, Mike Tomlinson (replaced by Tim Standing, 64m), Stuart Birkett (replaced by Stuart Tanfield, 83m), Rob Saunders, Ben Standing (capt.) and Adam Moroney. Subs (unused); Andy Gleave, Nigel Gatehouse, Garyth Brant.