ROOKS SQUAWK LOUDEST – BUT WITH SQUEAKY BUMS
Lewes edged out gritty Ascot United 2-1 in the Emirates FA Cup Second Qualifying Round on Friday evening. The Yellamen, who had never before gone past the previous round, gave a fantastic account of themselves in fighting back from 2-0 down, but could not find a leveller in front of a Friday night crowd of 451.
Stern test for Ascot under the lights
The Yellamen had more than matched illustrious league rivals Leatherhead in defeat three days earlier, but this was a significant step up against a strong Sussex side that had formerly played as high as the National League. Now playing one tier higher than Ascot at Step three, The Rooks are already in the mix in their league and have a squad with a wealth of experience at National and Football league levels.
Ascot show their intent
But the cup is a great leveller, and Ascot were on top for most of the opening quarter of-an-hour, but it quickly changed when Chris Whelpdale capped a quick counter-attack by striking an exquisite effort from long-range that snook into the top left hand corner.
Home ‘keeper Hugo Sobte then produced a brilliant low save to thwart Tommy Wood after Whelpdale’s sublime through-ball had played him in, but it was Ascot who would otherwise match their visitors.
Harry Grant’s deflected effort brought the best out of Nathan Harvey in the Lewes goal as he turned the midfielder’s wicked strike around a post, but Brendan Matthew’s clear sight of goal after leaving his marker for dead in the 44th minute teed up his side’s best chance; Matthew slashing wildly over; 0-1 at the break.
Yellamen continue to press but Lewes show their class
The second half saw Ascot continue to match Lewes and 55th minute substitute Harvey Killeen almost scored with his first touch only to fire over when well-placed.
Whelpdale then threw a bucket of cold water on Ascot’s resurgence with a side-footed finish in the 58th minute to make it 2-0, but the hosts should have cut the deficit almost immediately only for Harry Grant to fire over with the goal at his mercy.
But the Yellamen were given a lifeline when Lewes defender Harvey Hughes slide horribly into his own net from a Sean McCormack’s corner – and with a quarter of the game remaining the boisterous home crown got behind their troops.
In a see-saw encounter Lewes’ substitutes Archie Tamplin and Deshane Dalling linked up for the latter to clatter the crossbar as the Rooks sought a killer third, but despite Ascot’s late pressure they just couldn’t find a way past Harvey and it remained 2-1.
What’s next for Ascot?
Aside from hoping the growing support base continues to stick, The Yellamen will look forward to eight days off before Lancing are the visitors in the FA Trophy second qualifying round next weekend.
Ascot United: Sobte, Lock, Tucker, Edwards, McCormack, H. Grant, Ajanlekoko (Laflin 84’), Matthew, Lahtinen-Kalsi, Lalustani (McCoy 75’), Balogun (Killeen 55’). Subs unused: Edgecombe, Welch, A. Grant, Gater.
Reporter’s Star Man: Chris Whelpdale (Lewes)
Away fans (estimate): 50
Picture: Ascot attack in front of their fans (shooting-stars.co.uk)