|11/03/2023||14:00||West London Veterans Football League||2022-2023|
|Racecourse Ground 3G 11-a-side|
|Sunninghill and Ascot, Ascot, Windsor and Maidenhead, South East, England, United Kingdom|
11 March 2023
League Cup Semi-Final
West London Rams’ Vets 6-1 Ascot United Vets
Ultimately, West London Rams (WLR) won this all PremierDivision league cup semi-final with Ascot United at a canter. Three late goals tilted the scoreline very much in the Rams’ favour, but for at least an hour of this game there wasn’t a massive amount between the sides. Ultimately, WLR had the touch of class that made the difference and they’ll now go on and play first division Whippet Wanderers in the League Cup Final.
Ascot United’s 1st XI last played two weeks ago (at Bank of England). The side that turned out at Leatherhead Youth’s attractive ground just off junction 9 of the M25 looked rather different from the team that started that day.
For starters, the ever-resolute Jon Keough was back in his natural habitat (the centre of defence) as opposed to needing to loiter between the sticks (Eryk Nawala returned to take over the gloves). Dave Woozley made a welcome return alongside Keough, Jamie Burgess came in at right back and Phil White was promoted from the twos to play in front ofhim. Tim Standing, Adam Moroney and Rob Saunders were also all back in the starting line up.
The changes certainly appeared to do Ascot no harm and for the first 25 minutes the game remained pretty even steven. Both sides looked to be positive, but neither really managed to get into any sort of rhythm.
That began to change when WLR took the lead. The ball dropped 25 yards out and was spectacularly volleyed over Nawala and into the roof of the net. Nawala may not be the biggest of keepers but even Costel Pantilimon (at a cool 6ft8) is unlikely to have stopped that ripsnorter of a strike.
The goal didn’t lead to the Rams dominating, but it did mark a shift in terms of who was on top. Still, Phil White saw a shot from outside the box go just over and Adam Moroney continued to be a handful leading the line. 1-0 at half-time but with the Yellas very much in it.
The travelling yellow hordes (all seven of them) were quietly confident that Ascot could turn things around in the second period. That confidence nonetheless took a dent five minutes in when WLR doubled their advantage. The goal was a weapons-grade mess and the Rams had about five chances to score before they ultimately managed to scramble the ball over the line.
Ascot nonetheless responded. Rob Saunders floated a decentcross just a fraction too high for an onrushing Phil White, whilst Neil Corbett shot narrowly wide following a forty yardrun down the left. However, WLR once again struck at exactly the wrong time (from an Ascot perspective). Another lightning fast break saw the score tick up to 3-0 and Ascot’s hopes of getting to the final dissipate yet more.
The prospect of a comeback did flicker on the horizon when Phil White showed decent composure, turning on a six penceand coolly slotting the ball home from outside the box. Was the comeback on after all?
No. Ascot huffed and puffed, but ultimately they never really got anywhere. Stu Birkett brought a bit of energy to the party, Leon Palmer-Wilson tried to work some magic on the left whilst Rob Saunders kept trying to pull something out of his box tricks. To no avail.
WLR, meanwhile, kept to their playbook of letting Ascot have the ball but then breaking with speed when they lost it. Their fourth goal in particular was a thing of beauty, the centre-forward bringing the ball down magnificently on the half-way line before playing it out to the right winger. The winger sped off down the line whilst the striker hurtled into the penalty box, rising like a salmon to head a pin-perfect cross home. A proper goal.
The Rams added two more to give the score a really lop-sidedfeel. Ultimately, however, Ascot can have no complaints. The Rams are a good side and Ascot would need to be at their very strongest to get one over on them. Maybe next time. Well, maybe next Friday, in fact. The Rams come over to the Racecourse Ground for a return match in the league then.
Team: Eryk Nawala, Jamie Burgess, Neil Corbett, Dave Woozley, Jon Keough, Chris Ferdinand, Phil White, Tim Standing, Rob Saunders, Ben Standing (capt) and Adam Moroney.
Subs: Matt Newall, Leon Palmer-Wilson, Garyth Brant and Stu Birkett.
Goal: Phil White