|02/09/2023||15:00||Emirates FA Cup||2023-2024|
|The Racecourse Ground|
|Sunninghill and Ascot, Ascot, Windsor and Maidenhead, South East, England, United Kingdom|
MAGIC McCOY SENDS ASCOT THROUGH
Ollie’s late strike sinks Westfield in FA Cup
Ollie McCoy’s fantastic long range strike in the fifth minute of stoppage time sent Ascot United through to the Emirates FA Cup 2nd qualifying round for the first time in their history. League rivals Westfield were tough, physical opposition for The Yellamen, who had to dig deep to find a winner after Brendan Matthew had earlier missed a penalty.
A sort of Royal Borough v Woking day
Whilst the two sides have regularly met at Under-18 level this was the first meeting of the senior sides, co-incidentally came on the same day as Woking FC’s National League game at Maidenhead United; a brace of borough battles to kick off September. This would also be Ascot’s first of at least three meetings this season with the unconventionally nicknamed “Smart Fellas”; Westfield also plying their trade in the Isthmian League South Central Division.
Tight first half with chances for both
Westfield were much stronger in the opening stages as Ascot wrestled with their physical presence, but neither Jakob Breckon with an early cushion header nor Junior Da Cruz with a speculative left-footed volley could trouble Hugo Sobte in the host’s goal.
Once they’d got a foothold Ascot also threatened only for ‘keeper Sonny Wheeler to smother McCoy’s threat from a tight angle midway through the half before he turned provider with an inviting cross into the six-yard box that a stretching Matthew could only fire over the bar first-time.
But in a frantic end to the half, Manolis Gagonas’s low shot across Sobte’s goal flashed wide and out of play before Sobte produced a brilliant save in first-half stoppage time to thwart powerful striker Breckon who had wriggled clear of defender Josh Edwards to tee himself up – although Edwards had already done superbly well to hold Breckon up which made his chance crucially more difficult.
Brilliant Balogun bosses the middle
Westfield’s physical approach caused problems for The Yellamen, but in Sam Balogun Ascot have a gem. The midfielder, who was a stellar squad player last season, started at Badshot Lea on Easter Monday and underlined his importance with another stifling, spoiling and smart performance across ninety minutes that broke down the visitors’ threat.
Spot kick sadness and woodwork woe tees up crisp McCoy finale
The second half was a decent footballing spectacle – Westfield going close in a mad 52nd minute when Didi Ndombe clattered the woodwork, George Lock cleared off the line and Ndombe was unable to convert the pieces in an almighty scare for Ascot.
Almost immediately, Ascot threatened at the other end when Brendan Matthew was adjudged to have been fouled by defender Luke Elliott – the referee harshly arguing he got ball via man – but either way Matthew’s spot-kick was off target and many would argue the ultimate outcome was right.
Da Cruz and Tayshan Smith then led a quick counter than Ollie Kalsi-Lahtinen did well to break up, and he immediately led a counter-attack of Ascot’s own that ended with him being fouled; fantastic energy even if the resultant free-kick came to nothing.
As the game entered its dying embers Westfield substitute Jake Baxter might have done better from distance – off target again – before the late-late show began.
McCoy drove forwards and earned a corner – 94 minutes ticked past – and in the post-six-yard-box-action McCoy had snook to the edge of the area, from which he lashed home a truly world-class rocket into the top right; Wheeler with no chance and The Yellamen duly wheeled away in delight.
There were fully ten minutes of added time to see out, and Ascot might have scored again when Luqman Kassim’s cross was almost palmed back into his own net by Wheeler before being cleared off the line, but one goal was enough to see The Yellamen create another little piece of history and send most of the 206 fans home happy.
What’s next for Ascot?
The Yellamen will look forward to the FA Cup draw on Monday lunchtime before making their debut in the Isuzu FA Trophy at Horndean next weekend. And, given their FA Vase triumph last season combined with a mini FA Cup run this campaign, they will be hopeful of extending their unbeaten run in national FA Cup competitions to fifteen matches, a sequence stretching back over a year embracing their run to the Arch. What price on another visit this season?
Probably quite high. But to dream is human.
Ascot United: Sobte, Lock (Laflin 68’), Tucker, Edwards, McCormack, H. Grant, Matthew (Brown 90+5’), Lalustani (Kassim 77’), Lahtinen-Kalsi, McCoy, Balogun. Subs unused: Gater, Sykes, Bailey
Reporter’s Star Man: Sammy Balogun
Away fans (estimate): 20
Yellow cards: Ollie McCoy 68’, Sammy Balogun 86’