Preddie good defending as Ascot win 2-1
Ascot United produced a simply outstanding team performance to beat Sandhurst Town in the Combined Counties League Cup Quarter Final on Tuesday. Having been hammered by the same team just a week-and-a-half earlier, Harry Laflin scored a brace to send his side through at the expense of a Fizzers side once again boasting a step four line-up.
The visitors were 6-1 victors over Ascot in the Fripp-Smith trophy ten days earlier, so it would take a seismic shift if the Yellamen were to continue their love affair with league cup competitions of recent seasons.
The first half was a brilliant advert for local non-league football. Full of endeavour and tasty challenges but light on clear-cut chances, both sides gave 100% and it was rightly all-square at half time.
Home marksman Laflin had two sights of goal in the opening stages – one of them an audacious thunderbolt from at least 35 yards – although his later reward would be a short spell of dazed recovery following a clash of heads just before half time.
For Sandhurst, Joe Grant showed great strength to wriggle clear of Louis Bouwers midway through the half but Max Herbert’s resultant first-time effort from Grant’s cut-back found the woods behind the far end of the ground. Seb Bowerman’s effort would meet a similar fate four minutes later and new home signing Shaun Preddie capped a fine half with a tremendous recovery challenge on Grant just when it looked as if he would escape into a goalscoring position moments before the break.
The second half began with the home faithful – their committee well represented in the face of a ban on spectators – contemplating if their side would maintain the workrate against their opponents.
And, that they did in fine style. Laflin had already tested Jason Matthews in the visiting goal before his 52nd minute opener – a well-taken finish at the second attempt after Matthews had done well to block his initial left-footed attempt.
At the other end, Sam Gray’s moment of the match came with a splendid save to deny Grant when he was through on goal, but the visitors would level in the scrappiest of circumstances moments later when the ball trundled in following a corner.
But The Yellamen dug deeper and scored what proved to be the winning goal in the 67th minute. This time, Taylor Morgan looked to have over-played with unnecessary trickery – although credit to him the ball found its way to James Haworth on the left wing, Haworth surged into the box and cut the ball back for Laflin who fashioned the ball into a shooting position before drilling low across Matthews and into the bottom right.
By this point it was the home faithful in a daze, and they looked on as Sandhurst sought another leveller; Herbert’s direct free kick up and over the wall missed by inches and Preddie was on hand once again to deny Grant – himself only just back on the field after an earlier stint in the sin-bin.
The Yellamen then survived five minutes of stoppage time to record arguably the result of their season – and definitely the performance of it.
Ascot United: Gray, Lock, Haworth, Evans, Bouwers (Surpanu 79’), D. Bailey, Preddie, Denton, Davies (Higgs 62’), Laflin, Morgan. Subs unused: Andrady, Berry, Surpanu