|West London Veterans Football League
Bank of England Vets’ 1st XI 4-5 Ascot United Vets’ 1st XI
WLVFL League Cup (Preliminary Round)
Ascot United (ultimately) came out on top in what was, for the neutral at least, a veritable ding-dong-doo of a league cup tie. It was two supersubs who made the goal-scoring difference, Garyth Brant and Phil White coming on at half-time and contributing four goals between them. Indeed, it was White who snatched a 90th minute winner for the Yellamen, smashing the ball in at the back post to secure safe passage to the next round.
For anyone who thought the twos were late getting to their game at Claygate on 1 October, well, the 1st XI replied more or less as one with “hold my beer”. The traffic on the M3, the M25, the A3, the A316 and very possibly every other road south of the Watford Gap was a veritable nightmare, meaning that half the side got to the ground as the ref was threatening to blow his whistle to start the game. Ideal preparation? Erm, no.
That wasn’t helped by poor old Neil Corbett – one of the few to actually get to Roehampton in time to have a decent warm up – pulling a fetlock early in the first half. At that point Ascot were already one up, Dave Simpson attacking the far post and nicely tucking home a good Adam Moroney cross.
That was effectively the last that Simpson was going to see of his role wide on the right; with Corbett forced to leave the fray he switched over to left back. Jon Keough and Nigel Gatehouse stayed at the centre of a back four, with Dan Hough on the right. Stuart Tanfield, Mike Tomlinson, Andy Gleave (on for Corbett) and Toby Underwood (now shifted to the right) played across the midfield with Rob Saunders and Adam Moroney the forward-looking options.
A goal to the good though Ascot were in truth they weren’t playing particularly well. Nigel Gatehouse had sent a thumping header on to the bar, but too many passes were going astray and too many BoE players were finding space in their attacking third. Everything seemed just a bit too clunky and forced somehow.
That gave the Bank every opportunity to get back in the game. Poor defending offered Jay Larkin up two chances and he didn’t hesitate in putting both away. Farouk Ampou El Ela was proving a handful up front and by the time half-time came Ascot found themselves 3-1 down as he helped Danny Leslie-Edwards add another. Ascot needed to do much better.
At half-time stand in gaffer, Dave Thompson, read the riot act and rang the changes although whether even he imagined thatthe two subs he brought on would contribute four goals between them is a moot point. Brant and White immediately settled and it wasn’t long before the play became condensed in the BoE half.
If needing to come back from being 3-1 down wasn’t enough of a challenge, with 15 minutes gone in the second half things managed to get even worse for the visitors. Nigel Gatehouse and the custodian in the middle had something of a disagreement, and that led the referee to request Nigel go and help himself to an early bath.
Climbing Scafell Pike had suddenly begun to look rather more like conquering Mont Blanc, but Ascot most certainly were not throwing in the towel. Rich Harrison tipped one effort impressively on to the bar, and Ascot began to re-group. They went three at the back, three across the midfield and left Brant and Rob Saunders to play behind the battered and bruised Adam Maroney up front. It couldn’t have worked much better.
Saunders was the catalyst for the comeback, thumping a 25 yarder against the bar. Brant reacted quickest, neatly slotting home the rebound. Phil White, making regular late appearances in the BoE penalty box, then scored Ascot’s third of the day to make it 3-3, before Brant then bustled in the fourth to put the Yellamen back in front.
That really should have been that. Ascot had most of the ball, the BoE were struggling with injuries of their own and furthermore the hosts were clearly tiring. But, they, too, refused to give in, and with the clock counting down Lesley-Edwards popped up to score his second of the day. 4-4 and penalties looming.
But, loom though they did, penalties weren’t to be needed. Ascot again pushed forward, they won a(nother) corner and Rob Saunders delivered a(nother) cross right into the six yardbox. In the scramble that ensued the ball fell to Phil White at the back post and he coolly slotted the ball home. That was that, and Ascot were into the next round.
The performance was not exactly vintage and there were a whole heap of things that Ascot could and should have done better, but in the end they did enough to come through. Bring on round one on the 12th November.
Team: Richard Harrison, Dan Hough, Neil Corbett, Mike Tomlinson, Nigel Gatehouse, Jon Keough, Dave Simpson, Stuart Tanfield, Adam Moroney, Rob Saunders, Toby Underwood.
Bench: Andy Gleave, Garyth Brant, Phil White, Chris Ferdinand and Dave Thompson
Goals: Garyth Brant (2), Phil White (2), Dave Simpson