|Racecourse Ground 3G 11-a-side|
|Sunninghill and Ascot, Ascot, Windsor and Maidenhead, South East, England, United Kingdom|
Ascot United Vets 3-3 Holyport Vets
Following five weeks of pre-season on 19 August Ascot United’s Vets finally got some 11-a-side action under their belts. Holyport Vets were the visitors to the Racecourse and they provided a real test for Dave Good’s men. Holyport raced out of the blocks, but the Yellamen’s strength in depth ultimately served them well as they came back from 3-1 down to claim a draw.
With two Saturday XIs playing league football in 2022-23 and around 50 players now on the books, Ascot United Vets had absolutely no trouble in getting a side out for their first pre-season encounter. Indeed, gaffer Dave Good opted to change all 11 players at half-time, giving each of the 22 in attendance 45 minutes to blow away at least some of those summer cobwebs.
Spoilt for choice though the hosts were in terms of players, it was Holyport who hit the ground running. They played an attacking 4-3-3 and looked a threat every time they went forward. It was subsequently no surprise that they were the ones to break the deadlock. Holyport’s lively right wingerbent his run behind the Ascot defence nicely and calmly slotted home. 1-0 to the visitors and Ascot hadn’t even got out of first gear.
Ascot subsequently re-grouped and attempted to get their respective feet on the ball just a bit more. Ben Standing showed touches of skill up front while Andy Gleave and Mike Tomlinson tried their best to bring a bit of pattern to the proceedings in the middle of the park.
Things nonetheless didn’t get any easier for the hosts. Dave Woozley limped off (nothing too serious, we hope) half waythrough and Holyport continued to pose a real threat.
Be that as it may, it was Ascot who scored next. Jon Keough will be claiming the goal (and it’s highly likely that by the time you read this Leon Palmer-Wilson’s recording of it is all but certain to have gone viral on twitter), but in reality it was straight out of the Ken Wilson/Dave Good textbook of set pieces. Toby Underwood pinged a corner in, Keough cut to the back post and thwacked the ball home on the volley. Decent tekkers all round.
At 1-1 the feeling was that Ascot were well placed to kick on and take control. That didn’t quite happen. Holyport kept coming and they were good value for what soon became a 3-1 lead. Pre-season though it may have been, this wasn’t part of the script.
With half-time looming, Ascot – and Ben Standing in particular – suddenly switched on. Nigel Gatehouse pinged the ball into Standing’s feet, the striker again showed some nifty footwork, before skipping his way into space and beyond two defenders. He made no mistake with the finish. 3-2 at the break and there was work to be done.
Leon Palmer-Wilson led the side out for the second half as Ascot looked to try and re-group and keep the ball just a little better. Chris Ferdinand set the tone at the back, strong in the air and simple with the distribution. As Holyport tired Ascot came ever more into the game.
Adam Moroney proved to be the catalyse there. He was an excellent pivot up front and lots of Ascot’s good play centred round him. Phil White and Paul Woodford pinged the ball into Moroney and he either held the ball up nicely or turned and ran at the Holyport defence. With Garth Bryant and Leon Palmer-Wilson getting forward impressively Holyport had little choice but to sit back and try to catch Ascot on the break.
Eventually, the third goal came. Ben Spence and Adam Moroney were involved in some neat build up play before Moroney set up Dan Hough to slide the ball in at the near post. 3-3 and still plenty of time left.
Holyport, to their credit, continued to create chances and debutant Lee Perry did well to make a couple of excellent saves. Would the decisive goal come and if so which way was it going to go? Well, the answer was ‘no’, as both sides found themselves having to settle for a draw.
Pre-season games are often odd affairs, but this was a really useful exercise for both sides. Plenty to learn from plus one or two nice things to build upon. All good.
The Vets go again next week when Woodley are the visitors (again on Friday night).
19 August 2022