|02/12/2022||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|
2 December 2022
Ascot United 2nds 4-4 Hersham Southside
There seems to be something about Friday night games under the lights at the Racecourse Ground. Every single one that’s been played there this season has been a real rollercoaster ride; goals galore and drama to the end.
The game between top-of-the-table Hersham Southside and second-placed Ascot United 2nds on Friday 2 December was no exception. Hersham raced into a three goal lead and Ascot could count themselves lucky to be just the 4-1 down at half-time. Hersham were superb, Ascot were quite a bit less than superb.
The second half, however, was a different story. Ascot changed shape and added another body into the centre of the park. Hersham made some switches of their own and all of a sudden the game looked completely different. The hosts had the momentum and clawed their way back into things.
Hersham Southside are in their debut season in the WLVFL. They formed when the remnants of Hersham Sports and Social (once of Division One of the WLVFL) joined forces with Southside FC – a long-standing Sunday Vets’ team. Hersham Southside were subsequently born in the summer of 2022 and they entered the WLVFL Division Three soon after.
Hersham have had a super start. They’ve won all six of their league games and they are still in the League Cup (they have an intriguing looking tie against Poly to look forward to in early January). They will have come to Ascot in confident mood.
Judging on what they produced in the first 45 minutes they had every right to be confident. Steve Redding, Hersham’s goal-scoring machine, helped himself to a hat-trick and the impressive Julian Renner-Thomas added a fourth. The visitors passed and moved superbly and they had more than enough chances to have put the game well and truly to bed.
Ascot gaffer Martin Kay used the half-time interval to do some tinkering. The midfield was bolstered as the hosts moved to a 4-5-1. Andy Gleave, Paul Woodford and Stu Flurry began to see rather more of the ball, whilst Jad Sidhu sat in nicely on the right. Hersham’s free-flowing football vanished and Ascot began to work their way very much back into the game.
They then had a stroke of luck. The otherwise excellent Geoff Stothert inexplicably gave the ball away to Jez Myhan and Berkshire’s version of Erling Haaland made no mistake from the edge of the box. As he commented in the dressing room afterwards, “that was a decent ping, fair play”. Ascot’s energy levels remained high, and Gleave, Woodford and Garyth Brant found themselves slipping in ever more decent through balls to third men running. Hersham were beginning to creak.
The third goal came from the penalty spot, Stu Flurry making no mistake following a hand ball in the area. Ascot subsequently had every incentive to continue the onslaught and it wasn’t long before the scores were level, Dan Hough running through to notch the equaliser. Shame about the chance he had five minutes later that landed near the six furlong mark on the racecourse….
Hersham, to their credit, fought back. Despite losing Renner-Thomas and the otherwise impressive Steve Lewis to what looked like painful injuries, they kept feeding Redding and indeed the ageless Paul Deacon up front. Lee Parry pulled off one excellent save, and Jamie Burgess scrambled away another effort off the line. Darren Lewis defended superbly on the left, whilst Jad Sidhu made a real difference on the right.
As the clock ticked over into injury-time Ascot then had a super chance to win it. Leon Palmer-Wilson took charge of a free kick in an excellent position, but he couldn’t quite keep his curling effort down. Over the bar it went and the final whistle blew.
Anyone who has been watching the World Cup will know that football has a never-ending capacity to surprise. True as it has been in Doha of late, it remains every bit as spot on in the West London Vets’ League. Hersham will be disappointed that they didn’t win, but their unbeaten run continues and it’d be a brave man who would bet against them not going up. Ascot United’s 2nd string won’t be keen on watching the first half highlights on Match of the Day this evening, but their second half performance should give them plenty of heart. As comebacks go it was very impressive.
The twos are now next in action on Saturday 17th December when they visit AFC Hampton. Rumours of a post-game Christmas drink or two are also circulating widely…..