|14/10/2023||15:00||The Pitching In Isthmian Football League - South-Central Division||2023-2024|
|Racecourse Ground 3G 11-a-side|
|Sunninghill and Ascot, Ascot, Windsor and Maidenhead, South East, England, United Kingdom|
ASCOT SLIP TO HOME DEFEAT
Hanworth Villa bounce back to beat Yellamen 3-1
Ascot United returned to league action with a 3-1 defeat against Hanworth Villa on Saturday. The home side had led courtesy of Brendan Matthew’s penalty, but The Villains were just too strong in the second half and deservedly recovered to take the points.
Promising performances but points are priceless
Despite winning just one of their last six matches, The Yellamen had been impressive – particularly so again higher-ranked sides in the cup – but results are what counts on a day when both sides were looking to make up ground on those above them. With all teams in the top-half having played at least a game more the league table showed Ascot in the uncharacteristically low position of sixteenth, although their fourteenth-placed visitors – who were losing play-off finalists last season – were in a similar situation.
Menace Merson kept at bay
The first half was a thoroughly entertaining affair, high on quality and either side might have led at the break. Indeed, visiting striker Sam Merson was in and amongst most things good; firstly seeing a thirteenth minute snap-shot saved by Hugo Sobte before delivering a corner that defender Seanan McKillop volleyed agonisingly wide.
Later in the half, Sobte produced an even better save to deny Merson who had a clear sight of goal, and even when Sobte was beaten in first half injury time the woodwork came to his rescue after Merson had fashioned an audacious cross-shot from an improbable angle.
Hosts equally impressive as visitors pay penalty.
Ascot gave as good as they got, and a decent mini-spell midway through the half saw Villa’s defence hold firm when George Lock got on the end of Oliver Lahtinen Khalsi’s cross before Matthew did the same from Harry Grant’s resultant corner; both attempts blocked by excellent defensive headers.
Matthew had two more half-chances as the half wore on, firstly crowded out when racing onto Harvey Killeen’s through ball and then taking a heavy touch when Lahtinen-Khalsi had also threaded him in, but his moment would soon come.
Ascot ended the half strongly and forced a corner one minute into stoppage time, Dan Bailey was illegally wrestled to the ground near the penalty spot, and Matthew stepped forward to hammer the resultant spot-kick high into the top left. There was still time for Merson’s moment of almost-magic, but Ascot took their slender lead into the break.
Villa come roaring back amid controversy
The second half didn’t match the first in terms of quality, but certainly in terms of strength – and sadly for Ascot they were eventually outmuscled.
Matthew might have doubled Ascot’s lead merely thirty seconds after the restart but could only roll his shot just wide of the right-hand post, and that was really as close as they came as Villa subsequently established a foothold.
Louis Collins had already missed a sitter – a free header when unmarked in Ascot’s box – but atoned for that on the hour mark when he smashed home amid chaos in the hosts’ box following a corner.
Manager Jamie Tompkins then made two bold substitutions in throwing on Usman Lalustani and Duarte Surpanu for Lock and Lahtinen-Khalsi with twenty minutes remaining, but only one minute later it was impressive defender Ryan Case who threw himself in front of George Wells’ thunderous close range effort to keep Ascot on terms.
However, the game turned within twenty seconds of madness when Ascot’s Sammy Balogun appeared to be cleaned out in the visitors’ penalty area when seeking to cap a fine move – but the referee waved play on – Villa immediately countered, and Kyen Nicholas was on hand to head into a gaping net and make it 2-1 after Merson’s thumping effort had found the woodwork once again.
Ascot’s misery was compounded in the 83rd minute when Finley McNabb bulldozed his marker off the ball and slammed a low left-footed shot under Sobte to make it 3-1.
What’s next for Ascot?
A midweek league trip to Ashford Town (Middx) looms on Tuesday evening as The Yellamen play catchup following their glut of cup matches since August.
Ascot United: Sobte, Lock (Lalustani 70’), Edwards, Killeen, Balogun (Morgan 79’), Ajanlekoko, Matthew, Lahtinen-Kalsi (Surpanu 70’), Lalustani, H. Grant, Case. Subs unused: Hayes, Harris
Reporter’s Star Man: Sam Merson (Hanworth Villa)
Away fans (estimate): 35