Goalkeeping masterclass from Ashdown underpins comeback win
Goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown (pictured, shooting-stars.co.uk) was the hero as Ascot United fought back to beat impressive Virginia Water 2-1 on Saturday. The ex-Premier League man produced a quite incredible quadruple save with the scores tied at 1-1 – and then saved a penalty in the immediate aftermath, before the Yellamen completed their eleventh comeback win of the season.
Waters’ more recent form – just two defeats in ten – had contributed to reaching a comfortable mid-table spot, although Ascot’s ominous league record of 30 points from a possible 33 would surely put the hosts under pressure.
After weathering early Ascot pressure, the home side counter-attacked following Ollie Harris’s tumble in their own penalty area – Michel Capon ultimately escaping down the right and cutting the ball back for Turnell Sinclair to drag across Ashdown and into the bottom left hand corner.
Ex-Yellamen James Goodey attempted an audacious volley and Ross Nunn shot wide from distance as the home side threatened a second, but Ascot finally forged a couple of chances when Sean McCormack and George Lock linked up well for Harris, whose shot deflected harmlessly into ‘keeper Matt Jones’s hands. And, five minutes before the break Jordan Ajanlekoko’s long ball found Brendan Matthew, although the ball got stuck under his feet when clean through and he eventually fired over after being forced to check back onto his left foot.
Changing ends, The Yellamen had 45 minutes to force another comeback – having already done so ten times in twenty outings this season – and they were gifted an early equaliser when defender Izzy Goddard-Joseph sliced horribly into his own net from Harry Grant’s equally horribly-struck free kick; a cocktail of errors.
Goddard-Joseph’s cross was scooped out of the danger area at the other end, but Ascot went close when Mathew failed to convert a gilt-edged chance from Rob Gerrard’s cross.
But it was the 62nd minute heroics of Ashdown that brought gasps from the spectators where, after beating away an initial effort, he recovered to save the rebound, the third and then the fourth attempt on his goal in quick succession – before Waters were awarded a spot kick that saw Ashdown save and hold Casey Bocarro’s strike.
Capon had the ball in the net for Waters only to be denied by an offside flag, but after Ascot had completed their substitutions they had renewed vigour, although it was two of the starters – McCormack and Matthew – who combined for the latter to thump home and make it 2-1 thirteen minutes from time.
The ever-eager Kai Walters then started a move that saw Lock and Matthew tee up Harris – from whom Jones made a decent sprawling save – although Sinclair’s late free header for the hosts might have drawn them level had he not headed straight at a gleeful Ashdown.
Ascot weathered seven minutes of stoppage time despite never being at their best, although Virginia Water take much credit as one of the best sides Jamie Tompkins and his squad have faced this season.
Ascot United: Ashdown, Lock, Gerrard, Ajanlekoko, A. Grant, Tucker, McCormack (Welch 78’), H. Grant, Matthew, Harris (Ellis 78’), Gallimore (Walters 55’). Subs unused: Thompson, Mercadel