Yikes! Sykes ships five in ignominious cup defeat
Ascot United stumbled out of the League Cup at the first hurdle following a bitter defeat at nine-man Croydon Athletic on Tuesday. Trailing 3-2 at the break but with a two-man advantage, it should have been a routine comeback for Ascot, but they shipped further goals to suffer an ultimately painful 5-3 defeat.
Goalkeeping understudy Alex Sykes was called up by manager Jamie Tompkins in an otherwise familiar-looking squad, especially as some of the club’s talented youngsters were involved in simultaneous youth team action rendering them unable for selection.
The first half was neither a goalkeeping nor defending masterclass, although the sparse crowd were treated to five goals, two disallowed Ascot strikes and two dismissals – and it wasn’t even a dirty game!
Luwayne Greenwood wasted a good chance for Croydon after ten minutes, before Keaton August’s neat first-time finish was chalked off at the other end from Sean McCormack’s cross.
Ascot then took a 15th minute lead when Jonny Denton’s free kick trickled past Chris Klass after ping-pong between defence and August – the latter appearing to claim the goal – although the lead was short-lived when Will Grieveson nodded home at the other end to punish Sykes’ poor punch.
Duarte Surpanu then saw Klass save with his feet as Ascot threatened again, but it was more ping-pong – this time in the Ascot defence – that ended with Alfie Young thumping home; desperately poor from the visitors’ point of view.
But Ascot responded within two minutes when Surpanu got round the defence and cut the ball back for August to plant home – 2-2 the score with the half-hour mark approaching – although the visitors regained the lead in the 40th minute from Jack Marney’s exquisite free-kick awarded after Louis Bouwers’ infringement just outside the area.
But the half ended with crazy scenes as Croydon’s left and right backs both received 2nd yellow cards minutes apart – John Green preceding earlier scorer Young – and although Ascot had more chances in stoppage time they couldn’t exploit their two man advantage and it even took Sykes’ feet at the other end to prevent a fourth for Croydon.
Starting the second half with a two-man advantage there was, of course, only one result.
Athletic, to their credit, battled hard and goalkeeper Klass would ultimately live up to his name, although The Yellamen were simply bewilderingly abject.
Sykes was lucky to stay on the field after racing from his box and hacking down Croydon’s striker two minutes after the restart – yellow the card – but even with eleven men Ascot still looked vulnerable and Adam Everiss cleared off the line soon after with Sykes beaten.
Amazingly, Car Obilitey rifled home a fourth just before the hour mark to make it 4-2 but with time still on their side Ascot tried to rally, only for McCormack to miss an open target and substitute Ian Davies see a third effort ruled out for offside when he converted fellow replacement Denis Nortey’s header back across the box.
But the impressive Marney would gallop forwards and hammer home a deflected fifth to leave the smattering of travelling fans in despair – twenty minutes remaining – and incredibly Ascot then saw Nortey slip with an open goal begging, Surpanu saw his shot turned onto a post by Klass before the unlikely home hero then tipped a later header from Davies onto the crossbar.
Davies’ frustrations led him to the sin-bin before Dan Bailey rifled in a late consolation, which was harsh on Klass who looked as if he would keep a 45-minute clean sheet against all the odds.
Full time couldn’t come quick enough, although an already arduous journey home would seem even longer.
Ascot United: Sykes, Amate (Merrick), Everiss, Harper (Scott), Bouwers (Laflin), Bailey, McCormack, Denton, August (Nortey), Hamid (Davies), Surpanu.