NORTH GREENFORD STUN ASCOT IN LEAGUE CUP

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Spot-kick success for visitors after thrilling draw

Ascot United were beaten on penalties by North Greenford United in the Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League Cup semi-final on Saturday. The visitors fought back from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 before Ascot’s Louis Bouwers grabbed a last-gasp equaliser to send the game to spot-kicks, although Greenford scored all four penalties to advance to the final.

For league champions Ascot this was a chance to add a silver filling to their league championship and FA Vase sandwich, although North Greenford United – a creditable eighth in the final standings – would see this as their own opportunity to make it to a final.

Top scorer Brendan Matthew saw his lob well clawed-away by visiting ‘keeper Sam House (pictured, shooting-stars.co.uk) in the 11th minute, although he opened the scoring from the spot three minutes later after George Lock’s marauding run had been crudely ended; 1-0 to Ascot courtesy of his 47th goal of the season.

The Yellamen then went 2-0 up on the 19th minute when Jordan Ajanlekoko’s deft flick from Sean McCormack’s low free kick found the left-hand corner, although the visitors cut the deficit just before the half-hour mark when the impressive Harvey Killeen teed up Charlie Mitchell, who beat a motionless Sam Negus from outside the area.

Matthew then somehow fired wide of an open goal and would later miss another more difficult effort at the far post – McCormack the provider on both occasions – although in between those efforts North Greenford threatened again only for Negus to palm Samuel Brown’s deflected effort away.

Killeen and Mitchell linked up for the latter to fire agonisingly wide on the hour-mark, although when Killeen swung across an inviting free-kick in the 75th minute, defender Austin Schofield was on hand to head past Negus.

Incredibly, Brown smashed home from a tight angle just two minutes later to make it 3-2 – Mitchell the provider – before Ascot threw on the last of their five substitutes in an attempt salvage a draw.

One of them, Harry Laflin, saw his shot on the turn saved by House with his knees three minutes into added time, but in an incredible finale Negus saved brilliantly from visiting substitute Conor Molyneaux before booming his resultant clearance down field, substitute Dan Bailey headed on, and Louis Bouwers rifled an unstoppable effort into the top left with virtually the last kick of the game to make it 3-3.

Penalties ensued and after Harry Grant and Marcus Mealing missed their openers Ascot were already up against it when Schofield and Simeon Beckford both netted for Greenford.

Now 2-0 down, Matthew scored for Ascot although Killeen kept his cool for the visitors to make it 3-1, and although McCormack converted spot-kick number four it was Mitchell who stepped up to make it a clean sweep and send Greenford through to a date with Flackwell Heath.

Ascot United: Negus, Lock (Mealing 78’), Gerrard (Bailey 85’), Ajanlekoko (Laflin 84’), Bouwers, A. Grant, McCormack, H. Grant, Matthew, Welch (Balogun 73), Walters (August 78’).

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