|08/08/2023||19:45||Emirates FA Cup||2023-2024|
|Ardley, Fewcott, Cherwell District, Oxfordshire, England, OX27 7PA, United Kingdom|
ASCOT EDGE OUT ARDLEY IN FA CUP
Yellamen come from behind to win 2-1
Ascot United came from behind to beat resolute Ardley United 2-1 in Tuesday night’s Emirates FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Replay. As in the first match, the Yellamen went behind to an early second-half penalty, but this time found a way to win courtesy of goals from Harvey Killeen and Brendan Matthew.
Draws and Downpours influence bumper midweek programme
The game was one of an incredible 49 FA Cup matches scheduled for Tuesday, reflecting the 14 washed-out games either postponed or abandoned last weekend together with the plethora of replays; a further 70 teams failing to be separated in tight opening day affairs for many clubs. As for this tie, ninety-six hardy souls had witnessed Harry Laflin’s late leveller for Ascot cancel out Gavin James’s earlier penalty for Ardley when the two sides drew last weekend, teeing up a Racecourse return with a carrot of a home tie in the next round dangling above them.
As you were for Ascot; Ardley make changes
The hosts kept faith with the same starting line up as they had done three days earlier with Ardley making two changes; journeyman striker Anaclet Odhiambo in for the equally experienced Gavin James, who dropped to the bench, and Tom Rowlinson in for Jordy Ngathe on the wing.
First half ends goalless as profligacy reigns
The first half was littered with chances and could have finished with both sides sharing at least eight goals had they taken them.
Home striker Matthew had five sightings of goal – his first and last of the half were his best – firstly seeing an effort deflected wide soon after kick-off before blazing over in first half injury time after a neat one-two with Killeen.
In between all of that and Matthew’s three other chances, Jordan Ajanlekoko had tested Craig Hill from distance early-on and the luckless Luqman Kassim’s well-disguised volley struck the post from Killeen’s ball over the top as Ascot created most of the opportunities.
But Ardley were as well-organized as they were in the first encounter and more than matched their hosts; Rowlinson’s rasping effort fizzed just wide of the top left as Hugo Sobte looked on before Liam Talboys went close midway through the half following a dominant spell from the visitors, but it somehow remained goalless.
Matthew makes his mark
Soon after the restart, the visitors took the lead when Mason Courtney beat Sobte with a penalty after Joe Gater had been penalised in the box.
Cue the Ascot response.
And, it quickly arrived as The Yellamen responded within four minutes when Matthew pounced on Craig Hill’s short clearance to defender Sam McConnell – his block fell to Killeen – and he duly hammered the ball into the bottom right; 54 minutes played and parity restored.
In a whirlwind turnaround it was soon 2-1 when Matthew rose highest to meet Sean McCormack’s corner on the hour mark, his glancing header low and hard to the right of centre leaving Hill with no chance.
Ardley will do well at step five
The plucky visitors never gave up and Odhiambo dragged a decent chance wide with thirteen minutes remaining, although the home side threw on Sam Balogun in the closing stages and he would help neutralize much of what Ardley tried to muster. But this is a team that pushed Ascot all the way over 180 minutes and the home faithful duly stayed to applaud them off the pitch at full time.
What’s next for Ascot?
The Yellamen will make their league debut at Raynes Park Vale on Saturday before entertaining Mangotsfield United in the next round of the FA Cup a week later.
Ascot may be in the next round but no-one is getting excited just yet. There’s a preliminary round and four further qualifying rounds to navigate before Reading and the EFL brigade enter the draw in November.
But everyone can dream. After all, eleven more wins in the FA Cup and they’re at Wembley…again…
Ascot United: Sobte, Lock, Ajanlekoko, A.Grant (Gater 31’), Bailey, McCormack, Killeen, Matthew (Balogun 85’), Lahtinen-Kalsi, Welch, Kassim (Brown 70’). Subs unused: Sykes, Morgan, Allsopp, Laflin
Reporter’s Star Man: Oliver Lahtinen-Kalsi
Away fans (estimate): 25