Hersham Southside Veterans v Ascot United 2nd X1 Veterans



22/04/202314:00West London Veterans Football League2022-2023


22 April 2023

Hersham Southside 2-2 Ascot United 2nd XI


The top two in Division Three of the West London Vets’ League (WLVL) faced off at Spelthorne Sports on the penultimate day of the 2023 league season. A bobbly pitch, a load of rapidly deteriorating bodies and some ropey finishing meant that the game was hardly a feast of football, but both sides certainly put in good shifts as the points were ultimately shared.


It’s a good job that the Match of the Day pundits aren’t going to be let lose analysing some of the defending on show in this top of the table clash. Of the four goals scored three could quite plausibly be put in the ‘downright calamitous’ categoryand even the fourth had a touch of slapstick about it.


Neither side were at their strongest for what was in effect a dead rubber; both teams were going up and HershamSouthside were going up as champions. The pattern of play was set early. Hersham dominated the ball, Ascot sat back and tried to catch them on the counter.


With the game taking place on the main pitch at Spelthorne there was certainly plenty of space for the hosts to pass it about, but it was nonetheless Ascot who struck first. Not that scorer Jez Myhan saw much of it. The shot he got away from just inside the box was not exactly a piledriver and by the time it bobbled towards the Hersham keeper, Mark Smith, Myhan had already turned away and written it off as a bad job. It was only the excited reactions of his team mates that made him aware that the ball had somehow squirmed its way through the keeper and into the net.


The goal did little to affect the pattern of play. Adam Abusweber was doing a magnificent job of closing the ball down whilst both Stu Flurry and Dave Porter were rolling back the years to deprive the Hersham midfield of any space. Ben Spence, very much aware that he was going to be spending a lot of time without the ball, harried away impressively whilst the defensive troika of Ed Du Bois, Matt Newall and Darren Lewis continued to hold strong.


The longer the game went on the more Hersham got frustrated. Indeed, it looked like Ascot were going to head into the half-time break with their noses in front. Cue an innocuous cross, a defensive mis-communication and suddenly the ball was going past Eryk Nawala and into the back of the net (via an Ascot defender). Frustrating for the men in yellow.


Ascot remained firmly under the cosh in the second half, but Abbas Hussain did offer an outlet wide left and it was from that source that the Yellas went back in front. Darren Lewis played a long ball down the left that Hussain latched on to. He twisted and turned and somehow squirmed a cross in from the by-line. The ball bobbled up awkwardly, but that didn’t stop John Gavin from somehow looping the ball over the keeper and into the roof of the net. It was far from a classic strike, but it was enough to see Ascot back into the lead. From Hersham’s perspective it was the second defensive disaster of the afternoon.


By this stage the number of casualties was rising exponentially. For Hersham Mani Barriero, Gene Shafique and Geoff Stothert had all done themselves mischiefs and were spectating from the sidelines, while Steve Reddings was clearly not operating at his normal scintillating best. Ascot’s Dan Hough and Dave Porter were also both now reduced to observing things from the touchline, whilst Adam Abuswederwas struggling with a dicky calf. The one man who seemed in perfectly rude health was Nigel Gatehouse, subbed on in the second half and doing a decent job of mutating into Claude Makele in front of the back line. Given that Gatehouse has had his injury concerns, good to see.


As time ticked on it looked and felt like for all their pressure Hersham were going to strike a blank in terms of their second half-shooting. It’s not that they didn’t have shots, but keeper Eryk Nawala seemed to be spending a fair amount of his time retrieving them from way back behind his goal.


That, however, changed with little more than ten minutes left. The ball went out right and more or less everyone thought it was rolling off for an Ascot goal kick/throw in. It didn’t. It hit the corner flag. Adam Preece-Thomas retrieved it, stood up a nice ball to the back post and that was firmly headed beyond Nawala’s grasp. 2-2.


Would there be a decisive fifth goal in the game? Well, it was stuck-record territory. Hersham had the ball, Ascot defended resolutely and Eryk Nawala returned to the day job of fetching stray footballs. 2-2 it did indeed end.


The draw represents the first league points Hersham have dropped at home all season. For an Ascot side that was on the older side of average and that had a number of walking wounded, stopping them from registering seven wins from seven is a fair old achievement.


Ascot, well, they can be really pleased with their day’s work. Martin Kay’s side finish their campaign off next Saturday with a trip to Latimer Road.


Team: Erik Nawala, Dan Hough, Abbas Hussain, Ed Du Bois, Darren Lewis, Matt Newall, Dave Porter, Adam Abusweder, Stuart Flurry, Jez Myhan and Ben Spence.


Subs: Jad Sidhu, John Gavin and Nigel Gatehouse.


Goals: Jez Myhan and John Gavin.

Hersham Southside Veterans2

Ascot United 2nd X1 Veterans2
Referee to be confirmed