|10/11/2023||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|
10 November 2023
Ascot United IIs 3-1 Jamrock
“Let’s get ready to Hambo!”
Ascot United’s second string went top of the West London Vets’ League (WLVFL) second division on 10 November following a 3-1 triumph against Jamrock, the previous leagueleaders. An absorbing contest saw Jamrock have plenty of the ball, but it was the hosts who carved out – and indeed converted – the game’s key chances.
Gaffer Dan Hough had a squad of 16 to choose from and indeed a whole range of plans as to how to make the most of the array of talent that was at his disposal. But, as Mike Tyson famously once said, “everyone I ever box has a plan…..until I punch them on the nose. That generally puts an end to that”.
Jamrock weren’t in the business of lamping anyone, but that didn’t stop two of the hosts’ key players from departing the scene (and indeed ruining those plans) before the game had even reached half-time. Poor old Chris Watney’s hamstring went after 20 minutes or so whilst the unfortunate Andy Gleave did what looked like potentially serious damage to his knee ligaments forty minutes in. None of that was in the script at all, and everyone wishes both well in their respective recoveries.
Watney, however, had at least managed to make his mark before he went for an early bath. A delightful move down the right involving Paul Hamblin and Ben Spence saw the former Corinthian turn the ball home with barely two minutes on the clock. Watney may not have played for long, but he definitely had a meaningful impact.
Hamblin, meanwhile, bludgeoned his way through much longer than 20 minutes and he, too, was making impacts everywhere. Some decent hold up play regularly brought Spence into the game and when Watney went off the big front man began linking up promisingly with Garyth Brant.
The dynamic of the game was nonetheless changing. Run through brick walls though Hamblin did, that couldn’t prevent Jamrock from getting their respective feet on the ball and exerting a bit of control. That didn’t translate into too many shots, but the initial period of Ascot dominance was definitely over.
Jamrock’s three man attack was causing gaffer Dan Hough and newly installed Director of Football, Rob Stockford, to think long and hard about how Ascot were set up. The duo had a long chat about the way forward, and decided that a shift to four at the back made sense. Why? As it seemed the best way of counteracting Jamrock’s tricky troika up front.
As the game moved into the second half, Jamrock exerted even more control on the ball. In truth they still weren’t creating too many chances, but that was largely as Jamie Burgess, Ed Du Bois, Nigel Gatehouse and Darren Lewis held firm. With Adam Abusweder playing in the centre alongside Paul Woodford, and Mickey Parker and Hough in unfamiliar left/right midfield roles, Ascot were plugging holes as they appeared.
The key moment of the half appeared to come with around 15 minutes left. Micky Parker tuned on a sixpence and played an excellent right footed ball through the Jamrock back line for the onrushing Hough to chase down. He scored, Ascot were 2-0 up and it appeared as if the job might be done.
Not quite. Jamrock inevitably came back. They won a corner on their left, fired it in at the near post and the ball somehow ricocheted off Burgess, over Nawala and into the net. Cue all out attack from the visitors as they tried to eek out a draw.
But, with the clock winding down they inevitably left themselves open to the counter. And sure enough Paul Hamblin soon found himself clean through with just the keeper to beat. “It was my sheer pace that caused me problems” mused Hamblin to Sky Sports News after the game. “I was just moving at such a rate of knots that I somehow forgot to get the shot in”. This is the official line on the incident. Either way, the Jamrock ‘keeper smothered the effort and kept the visitors in it.
The game, however, was put to bed soon after by the Yellas. Jez Myhan showed good pace and strength to blast through the inside left channel. He was eventually upended, and although Jamie Burgess’s free kick was far from a thing of beauty, it was from the following passage of play that Matt Newall, replete with magnificent orange headband, pinged the ball towards the corner for Adam Abusweder to chase.
And, if there is one thing that the side’s resident TV producer can do, it’s chase. He first tackled a defender who subsequently found himself hurried into a back pass. Abusweder then set after the keeper, forced another error before the midfield dynamo slide-tackled (yet another)defender, putting the ball in the far corner of the net in the process. That’s two goals this season now for Abusweder, both of which came in pivotal moments of games Ascot went on to win.
There were then barely five minutes on the clock for Ascot to hold out and that they did without any further dramas. Eryk Nawala dominated his box nicely, Myhan and Hamblin continued to run gamely up front until the referee eventually decided enough was enough and called an end to proceedings.
At times the game wasn’t pretty, but Ascot will be mighty pleased with the outcome. “Paul Hamblin is a human wrecking ball of a player” commented Director of Football Rob Stockford to BBC Five Live afterwards. “He’d run through a brick wall surrounded by land mines and covered in barbed wire if it meant he’d have a chance of winning the ball”. Profound words.
The twos are next in action on Friday 24 November when they welcome Putney Vale Rangers in the WLVFL Vase. Should be a decent doo….
Team: Eryk Nawala, Dan Hough, Micky Parker, Jamie Burgess, Ed Du Bois, Matt Newall, Paul Woodford (c), Andy Gleave, Ben Spence, Paul Hamblin and Chris Watney.
Subs: Nigel Gatehouse, Adam Abusweder, Garyth Brant, Jez Myhan, Darren Lewis
Scorers: Chris Watney, Dan Hough and Adam Abusweder