Lalustani screamer caps 2-0 win over Citizens
Usman Lalustani scored a screamer as composed Ascot United beat against Reading City 2-0 on Tuesday evening in the eagerly-anticipated table-topping clash. In a tight affair, the lively winger cracked home an unstoppable second half goal to knock any remaining wind out of Reading’s sails, ending their unbeaten record and settling the battle between first and second.
Despite the bitterly cold temperature – minus 3 at kick off at the rural Racecourse ground – a sizeable midweek crowd assembled for the duel; also boosted by a raft of local postponements
The hosts, playing their first competitive fixture for exactly four weeks, were looking to extend a club-record sixteen match unbeaten run, and they would shade a first half which was low on chances.
Early-on, Harry Grant was unable to get enough power on his header after visiting ‘keeper Charlie York had blocked an earlier attempt, before his side threatened – only for Dan Davies to lash wildly over from distance on the quarter-hour mark.
The best chance of the half fell to the home side when Sean McCormack’s precise right-wing cross picked out Brendan Matthew, and although his first touch left him with work to do, he still had enough time to scoop out a shot which was deflected over the bar in the 29th minute. And from Harry Grant’s resultant corner, York was lucky to escape when he fumbled into the path of Jordan Ajanlekoko, although Ajanlekoko’s snap-shot fizzed over the bar in what epitomised the tone of an inevitably goalless first half.
Ascot were well backed behind the goal in the second half thanks to a glut of vocal youth team players in support, and they stood in expectation when Matthew had the chance to open the scoring on the hour mark after Ascot were awarded a penalty for hand ball. Sadly for them, York guessed correct, and saved what was an ultimately weak spot kick; 0-0 it remained.
But just as in previous games, Matthew would go on to score – although his 65th minute effort won’t be in contention for goal of the season after both sides made hashes of attempted shots and clearances, before Ascot’s top scorer was in the right place at the right time to scuff home the opener at the far post (pictured, shooting-stars.co.uk).
Manager Jamie Tompkins rotated his troops in the final twenty minutes and the decision to put Keaton August temporarily up top paid dividends as, whilst he was in office, Lalustani posted his contender for goal of the month with a stunning right footed effort from the edge of the area that flew in at the near post; much to the delight of the majority of the 315 fans in attendance.
Reading offered little, and their options were extinguished when long-throw expert Eddie Lazarczuk had limped off earlier midway through the half, and although the 2-0 victory sees the Yellamen open up a seven point lead at the top, there is still plenty of ground to cover between now and April.
Attentions now turn to Saturday’s long away day in Devon as Ascot look to continue their FA Vase quest at Buckland Athletic.
Ascot United: Ashdown, Lock (Bailey 83’), Gerrard, Ajanlekoko, A. Grant, Tucker, McCormack, H. Grant (Gallimore 85’), Welch (Walters 70’), Matthew (August 76’) Lalustani (Mealing 84’).