|23/09/2022||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|
Friday 23 September 2022
Ascot United Vets’ 2nd XI 4-2 AFC Hampton
The Vets’ 2nd XI started their season off with a hard earned three points against a resilient AFC Hampton. Ascot dominated proceedings for large parts, but a kamikaze 15 minutes or so in the middle nearly saw all the good work go up in smoke. Thankfully, two late goals ultimately saw Martin Kay’s side home.
“We’ve been building up to this game for what feels like an eternity” mused Kay to the world’s press in the post-match press conference “and yet we still did our level best to implode and chuck all the good work away”. The room nodded in silence. “Thankfully, we ultimately showed plenty of stickability and in the end we came through. But if we go about having major attacks of the collywobbles like we did there then I’m going to age ten years per game on the sidelines”.
Kay had a point. For the first half hour Ascot were pinging the ball about with ease. Phil White and Paul Woodford were at the heart of the midfield engine room while Stu Flurry sat a bit deeper and gave them a base from which to play. Dave Thompson and Ben Spence led the line well and both full backs were able to join the attacking fray pretty much at will.
It subsequently came as little surprise when Phil White, periodically jinking away as if he were auditioning for a place on Strictly, calmly slotted home from 10 yards. Indeed, snakehips White could well have had a couple more; one shot was well saved and another skidded just wide.
With nice build up play throughout the chances just kept on coming. Micky Parker was at the centre of plenty that Ascot did well and he it was who found himself in space 12 yards from goal. Cool as you like he slotted the ball away to claim his first ever goal for the AUFC Vets.
Not all of the finishing was of the standard of Micky Parker’s. Dan Hough, for example, appeared to think he’d mutated into Brazil’s 1986 full-back Josimar, famed for blasting a beast of a finish over Pat Jennings and into the top corner (see here for the strike in question; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRY8-sRxUII). Hough’s effort landed somewhere near the six furlong marker on the racecourse. Back to the drawing board there.
Half an hour in and Kay rang the changes. It’d be easy to blame that for the downturn in Ascot’s fortunes but in the cold light of day the hosts basically stopped playing. Rich Harrison found himself having to race out of goal and make a good save with his derriere, before then making an even better one when a shot was fired at him from point blank range and he was going in the wrong direction. Was it “world class”, as was muted at the time? Let’s just agree that in Vets’ football it was pretty damn good.
Harrison’s efforts couldn’t prevent Hampton from pulling one back and indeed as half-time approached the visitors kept surging forward. They scored another to bring the scores level, but they could quite possibly have scored a couple more on top of that. Ascot needed to get a grip, and quickly.
A few choice words from Gaffer Kay at half-time (“keep the ball, play it simple, pass and move”) brought things back to something approaching an even keel, although it was only really in the final half hour that Ascot got back into their stride.
Adam Abusweder buzzed menacingly down the left, working nicely with both Micky Parker and Jez Myhan. Ben Spence worked well between the lines. Loz Munns moved into the back line and helped ensure that any Hampton counter attacks got nowhere fast. Ascot were getting back to where they were in that first half hour.
Yet, the third goal wouldn’t come. Shots went wide, they went over, one smacked against the bar and although the hosts were camped in Hampton’s half a hint of desperation was seepingin.
Stand up Jez Myhan. Abusweder, Spence and White combined in the middle before Myhan held the ball up, span the defender and then clipped it nicely over the onrushing keeper. The massed ranks on the Kippax Terrace in front of the pavilion roared their approval.
A fourth quickly followed on from the third, Micky Parker playing an inch-perfect pass into his full back partner on the right. Hough ran through and tucked the ball away.
That fourth goal killed off any Hampton hopes of a comeback and Ascot played out the final few minutes with few dramas. Pass and move, the Kay ethos, was very much to the fore.
“It’s only one win, but it was nice to see us play some decent football” Kay was heard to comment later on. “We move on to take on Claygate next Saturday”.