Matt and Tan
The weather was not particularly Valencian but we were on tour with rain and gale force winds in Bournemouth. It was just great to be out with an 18 man touring squad.
The closure of the M3 made for a challenging start to the tour but everyone managed to get down there in time and the game got underway at 18:00. It was a good game and Ascot started well and created a couple of promising situations. John Gavin was finding space out wide and Dave Simpson was driving through the centre of midfield too. Manor got the first chance as the striker rounded the Ascot keeper and looked like he had tucked it into the corner but JK slid back and made an amazing clearance. The ref gave a freekick which Ascot thought was an offside to them but the decision had gone the other way. Poor communication from the ref meant that Ascot had set up to attack when he switched the ball to Manor. They played in their striker who was unmarked in miles of space and he finished the chance. 1-0 to the home team after 20 minutes.
The rest of the half was end to end. Ascot having most of the possession and Manor trying to create on the break with a significant following wind. With Ascot having Ederson in goal it was no trouble getting quality distribution. One strike into a gale force wind drew a unabashed squeal of delight from Rocket. Rocket was a constant threat breaking from the left hand side and created a couple of chances for himself and Carl. Chances were definitely coming and Ascot equalsied when Ben spun and his shot was parried into the path of a marauding Nige who tucked it away. Stu had come on and was creating havoc in the Manor midfield. He finished off a lovely move involving 5 good passes and it was 2-1 to Ascot after 37 minutes.
Manor equalised with another ball over the top but Ascot responded quickly as Abbas found Carl and the defender found Carl’s leg in the box. Stu put the penalty into the top corner and it was 3-2 to Ascot at half time
It was a sheer joy to welcome half time substitute Matt Newell back onto the pitch for his first game in nearly a year following his ruptured achilles injury. So good to see him on the pitch. He looked delighted as he saw a couple of very young Manor players came off the bench at half time. This made it harder for Ascot to continue dominating possession. 2 minutes into the half and it was 3-3 as a good cross was finished well with a header into the corner. Ascot were still managing to move the ball well and with the occasional howitzer from Toby they were always a threat. Abbas was proving to be a real threat down the left and it looked like a goal would come and what a goal it was. Dave T slipped round his marker and clipped a ball into the middle. Jez simply obliterated the two centre halves as he crashed through them to score with a bullet header – a very Roy of the Rovers header and wonderful to watch 4-3 with 25 minutes left.
Ascot did start to tire as they were chasing possession a little more and the youthful limbs of the Manor subs were having an effect but not creating that many good situations. The equaliser was a little cruel as a poorly struck cross drifted on the wind and dropped into the far corner of the Ascot goal.
In order to even up the ages, Ascot brought on 70 year old Steve ‘one touch’ Brine and he did not give the ball away once and helped create some good attacking situations working with Abbas, DT and Jez down the left.
In the last minute of the game one of the youngsters rose at the far post and looped a deep cross over the keeper and into the net. It was a cruel blow to an Ascot squad who had worked so hard in such difficult conditions. They deserved something from the game but it did not get in the way of an excellent evening and then a very good Saturday with both crazy golf and beach cricket acting a cool downs
Team : Zealand, Burgess, Gatehouse, Keough, Corbett, Gavin, Simpson, Heard, Hussain, Standing B, England, Sidhu, Brine, Newall, Flurry, Myhan, Thompson