|12/08/2023||15:00||The Pitching In Isthmian Football League - South-Central Division||2023-2024|
|Grand Drive, Raynes Park|
|Cannon Close, Cottenham Park, Raynes Park, London Borough of Merton, London, Greater London, England, SW20, United Kingdom|
ASCOT BEATEN IN STEP 4 DEBUT
Yellamen let 2-0 lead slip against Raynes Park Vale
Ascot United’s Isthmian League debut ended in defeat after slipping to a 3-2 defeat at Raynes Park Vale on Saturday. After a blistering opening that saw them 2-0 up inside fifteen minutes, the hosts roared back to make their own debut a memorable one.
Multiple Milestones on historic day
This was also the Vale’s debut at Step 4 having spent 28 seasons in the Combined Counties League, promotion from the Southern section coming with an almost carbon-copy of Ascot’s Northern section record; 99 points from 38 games compared with the Step-5 best tally of 102 earned by The Yellamen. On the pitch, Harry Grant returned from holiday and started alongside Harry Tucker, the only two changes to the starting line-ups against Ardley United. Luqman Kassim would make his 50th appearance from the bench, but sadly for him he entered the game just before Vale struck their winner.
Yellamen quickly find their feet
Ascot created plenty of chances in the first half although the home side threatened first and might have led but for the width of the crossbar; Jordan Gallagher cutting onto his right and thumping an effort past Huge Sobte but off the top right hand corner of the frame.
But Ascot were soon two-nil up after Brendan Matthew curled a delightful effort into the top right from a tight angle in the tenth minute to make it 1-0 – his 49th goal in yellow – before being involved in his side’s second by providing the assist for Harvey Killeen, who played an unlikely one-two before lifting the ball over advancing home ‘keeper Billy Bishop; 14 minutes played.
Matthew had two further chances that he was unable to take but at the other end Ascot survived a scare that VAR would probably have looked at in a case of ball-to-unnatural hand position in their own area – Dan Bailey relieved – but Vale did strike moments later in the dying embers of the half when Gallagher rose to plant Louie Downey’s cross past Sobte after JJ O’ Sullivan had started the hosts’ move down the left; 2-1 to Ascot at the break.
Good work is eventually to no a-vale
Credit to the hosts, they were stronger in the second half and although Killeen threatened first for Ascot with a dipping effort from a tight angle that Bishop did superbly well to tip over, they were soon on terms when Gallagher converted from the spot after George Lock was adjudged to have fouled him in the 51st minute; 2-2 and it was anyone’s game.
Sobte then made a big save to thwart Downey from close range and the impressive Gallagher narrowly missed with another effort to the top right, but Ascot got themselves back into the game only for Killeen’s lob to be headed off the goal-line by O’Sullivan and Harry Tucker then missed with a glancing header from Sean McCormack’s corner.
But shortly after Ascot had made their final two of three changes, Vale won it when Calum McCallister slammed a superb 81st minute effort in off the right-hand post; 3-2 and the turnaround was complete.
What’s next for Ascot?
The Yellamen have a week off before welcoming Bristol-suburbia outfit Mangotsfield United in the Emirates FA Cup Preliminary Round.
Ascot United: Sobte, Lock, Ajanlekoko, Tucker (Laflin 85’), Bailey, McCormack, Killeen, Matthew, Lahtinen-Kalsi, Welch (Balogun 77’), H. Grant (Kassim 77’). Subs unused: Brown, Allsopp
Reporter’s Star Man: Jordan Gallagher (Raynes Park Vale)
Away fans (estimate): 45