|11/02/2023||14:00||West London Veterans Football League||2022-2023|
11 February 2023
Hersham Southside 2-4 Ascot United
Ascot United squeezed their way past Hersham Southside on 11 February, making their way into the semi-finals of the West London Vets’ League’s cup competition. Ascot were rarely at their best, but a brace apiece for both Rob Saunders and the impressive Adam Moroney ultimately saw the Yellas home. To their credit, third division Hersham Southside certainly kept coming and they did plenty to force Ascot United to sit ever deeper. But, a decent 90 minutes from Eryk Nawala and some solid defending in the final third was enough to see Dave Good’s side through.
There are times in a season when it’s the performance that matters more than the result. Saturday was not one of those days. Cup games really are all about the final score, and struggle though Ascot did for much of the afternoon they scored at good times and ultimately did just about enough to make their way into the last four.
Hersham undoubtedly started the brighter, Steve Reddings – as is his way – running the channels impressively and firing a number of early shots in Eryk Nawala’s direction. Ascot’s version of Jan Tomaszewski (google him) nonetheless stood firm as the visitors struggled to get a proper foothold in the game.
The man who helped them do that was ultimately Adam Moroney. He was at the centre of everything Ascot did going forward, using his strength and pace to burst through the Hersham back line. It therefore came as no surprise that Moroney was heavily involved as Ascot opened the scoring, Rob Saunders ultimately providing the decisive finish. Moroney then got on the scoresheet himself, scampering through to double the visitors’ lead. Hersham’s debutant keeper, Mark Smith, had a decent game, but he could do little to prevent either of those two efforts from hitting the back of the net.
If anyone thought that that was going to signal an Ascot shift through the gears, then, well, they were mistaken. Chris Ferdinand tried his best to get a grip in the middle of the park whilst John Nutter was permanently on the lookout for the killer through ball. It was nonetheless Hersham who struck next, Reddings chipping Nawala impressively to put the hosts right back in it.
Still, a touch of class from Ben Standing helped Ascot quickly restore their two goal lead. Standing’s sharp movement into the box dragged two Hersham players out of position before a deft pass into the centre enabled Adam Moroney to sweep in his second of the day. 3-1 at half-time.
The second half saw Hersham continue to press. Steve Lewis and Stephan Smith saw lots of the ball, but it was always Reddings who was the real danger. Nigel Gatehouse did a sterling job of keeping an eye on the Hersham livewire, but he couldn’t prevent Reddings wriggling free and again finishing smartly. 3-2, game on.
It wasn’t that Ascot didn’t have their chances. Moroney kept ploughing forward, Saunders kept firing shots in and Standingremained ever-dangerous on the right. But it was Hershamwho had more of the ball as they tried to work their way through a well-marshalled defensive unit. Leon Palmer-Wilson came into the centre of the park to try and put his foot on the ball, but it was the herculean efforts of Gatehouse, Jon Keough, second half substitute Jamie Burgess and Mike Tomlinson that kept Ascot in front.
Ascot could only really breathe easy when Rob Saunders, following what had been a frustrating afternoon for Ascot’s top scorer, broke free down the right and hammered the ball into the back of Smith’s net. 4-2 and the deal was more or less done. Some high quality, Premier League-level ‘game-management’ by Ascot ensured that the ball stayed well away from their goal for most of the remaining five minutes, and when Hersham did finally manage to get the ball back and break away referee Paul Deacon blew his whistle and called an end to proceedings.
Ascot United will now play one of West London Rams, Sporting Kitz or Whippet Wanderers in the semi-final. The weekend of 10th/11th March is the date to (provisionally) put in the diary for that one.
Team: Eryk Nawala, Mike Tomlinson, Toby Underwood, Nigel Gatehouse, Jon Keough, John Nutter, Chris Ferdinand, Rob Saunders, Stuart Birkett, Ben Standing, Adam Moroney.
Scorers: Adam Moroney (2), Rob Saunders (2).