No festive cheer as defensive frailties cost Yellamen
Ascot United slumped to a disappointing 3-2 defeat against Reading City on Saturday in Dan Bailey’s 50th appearance for The Yellamen. Having recovered from going one-nil down to go two-one up, Ascot then pressed the self-destruct button to leave their travelling fans still waiting for an early Christmas present.
The hosts’ generous offer of free entry to those who had purchased tickets for the postponed Reading v Luton game had boosted the gate for the final festive match before Christmas, although those hoping for a glimpse of ex-Royal James Harper were left disappointed by the Ascot man’s absence.
The Yellamen were also missing manager Jamie Tompkins and his assistant Dan Masters, making way in the dugout for the deputising Josh Nice and Bjorn Dunkley.
City, looking for points to drag themselves away from the bottom six had already held Ascot to a 2-2 draw in August’s reverse fixture, were ahead inside five minutes when Ezio Touray pounced on hesitant defending to slot home an easy opener.
It might have been worse in the 18th minute when Junaid Bell and Jemel Johnson linked up for the latter to pick out Joe Pilling, who somehow shot wide.
Ascot did finally rally and levelled just after the half hour mark when Harry Laflin’s well-timed pass was matched by Taylor Morgan’s equally well-timed run; the pacey striker just onside as he raced clear before burying a low finish into the bottom left.
Morgan might have given his side a half-time lead only to shoot wide after a brilliant turn and show of strength to shrug off the home defence, but it remained level at the break.
It looked as if Ascot would go on to win it when they took the lead five minutes after the restart. Keaton August – who had an otherwise quiet game – delivered a fine cross form the left and although November player of the month Sean McCormack saw his thunderous effort brilliantly blocked on the line by Liam Baker, Tom Scott was on hand to rifle home the rebound.
But then came self-destruct. Sam Gray’s quickly taken throw from his own goal was intercepted well short of McCormack, and immediately under pressure the visiting defence conceded a hand-ball penalty which Johnson tucked away; 57 minutes played.
Gray then saved a thunderbolt from Johnson in the 60th minute, but two minutes later he had the last laugh with a simple finish as Ascot’s defence dithered once again.
A plethora of substitutions failed to inspire one further chance for Ascot, and had it not been for some festive charity from their hosts who spurned two glorious chances to extend their lead, it would have been worse for the visitors.
Ascot United: Gray, Ellis, Everiss (Hamid), Scott, Bouwers (Gutteridge), Bailey, McCormack (Surpanu), Denton, Morgan, Laflin (Davies), August.