3 May 2023
West London Vets’ League Review
Ones battle to the very end
Both of the Ascot United Vets’ sides played their final league games of the season on 29 April. Both lost, but both did so with heads very much held high.
The ones travelled down to Leatherhead to finish off their campaign against West London Rams (WLR). With the Rams gunning for the title and Ascot having – across their two sides – over 25 players unavailable, it looked like something of a mission impossible for Dave Good’s team. How wrong that expectation was…..
The Rams had the lion’s share of the ball, but the Yellasdefended impressively and goals from Ben Standing and the ever-impressive Adam Moroney saw them 2-0 up at the break. The Rams came back, but as the clock ticked into injury time Ascot led 3-2 (Rob Saunders scoring the visitors’ third of the day).
Cue an unlucky own goal in the 92nd minute and a controversial penalty in the 95th. When the dust settled Ascot had lost 4-3, but they had asserted themselves magnificently (see here for a fuller report). The result leaves the Rams second behind Chelsea Vets (who retain the tile) with Ascot United tucked in behind them in third. Sporting Kitz fill the fourth and final Champions League spot.
Ascot’s seconds battle gamely on
Given the club’s availability crisis, the AUFC 2nds did mighty well getting any side out at all. Indeed, it’s fair to say that not every club in the league would have opted to fulfil the fixture at Latimer Road like Ascot did.
Skipper Micky Parker’s job wasn’t made any easier when Darren Lewis went lame early on and the Yellas subsequently found themselves reduced to a bare eleven. A much younger and fitter Latimer Road side raced into a big early lead and at one stage it looked like a cricket score would be on the cards. A 3-1 win for Latimer Road over the last 70 minutes represents a fantastic effort by Ascot’s walking wounded. See here for the match report.
The result doesn’t change the top of the division three table(see here). Ascot United finish second and go up. Latimer Road finish third and enter a promotion play off with whoever finishes third from bottom in Division Two. It’ll be very interesting to see how that goes.
Nottsborough at a canter
Elsewhere there was just the one other game in the top flightand that took place between Nottsborough and Poly. Poly started with seven men and it took a little while before theymanaged to get all 11 on the field. That might have something to do with the 13-1 defeat they suffered.
The win for Nottsborough sees them move ahead of Kew Park Rangers. They now play each other with the loser going down and the winner having a second chance via the relegation play off. Nottsborough get the draw.
Civils run Claygate close in in Division 1
There were a couple of close encounters in Division One.
Leaders Claygate were pushed as hard as they have been for quite a well at Civil Service. Jimmy Benn once again led the line well for the hosts, bagging himself a couple of goals. Civils had plenty of other chances, but ultimately Claygate came through; they won 3-2 and are now ten points clear (and long since champions).
Old Actonians were also involved in a five goal thriller, although they came out on the wrong side of it. That defeat leaves them in third, one point behind Whippet Wanderers (who didn’t play). Old As’ conquerors, Jamrock, have given themselves a fighting chance of staying up, but they will have to win their final game at Wandsworth and hope that results elsewhere go their way.
The final game of the day saw WKK secure their safety. They won 5-0 at Wandsworth. The Borough will be backing themselves to stay up, but they’ll need to get one win from their final three matches to ensure survival.
All eyes on Army Crusaders in Div 2
Things have come together nicely fixtures-wise in Division Two. Hillingdon Abbots have caught up admirably, and they have finished top of the pile on 39 points.
The big question centres on whether Army Crusaders can win their double-header against Old Tens. If they do, they will go up with Hillingdon. If they get four points or fewer then a play-off beckons. Double H, 2-1 winners against Old Meadonians, are the side holding their breath there.
Army go into those games on the back of a 3-1 win against MMB. Given that MMB have already been relegated, a close game wasn’t necessarily on the cards. MMB nonetheless pushed the Crusaders all the way. Seif Nabil put Army in front, but the Milkmen equalised just before half-time. Nabil then bagged his second before MMB missed a penalty (the ball landed somewhere in Hampshire). Adam Tester scored a third for the Army in the last minute.
The final game in this division saw Molesey Lighthouse travel to Bank of England. They put up a stubborn fight, and the game ended 1-1. Joe Garner got the Bank’s goal, but they’ll be more concerned with the three nasty injuries their players picked up during the game. Fingers crossed all concerned are back and ready for 2023-24.
Claygate give Hersham Southside a scare in Division 3
Division Three is now formally done and dusted.
Hersham Southside finished their season with a 6-2 win at Claygate Royals Hounds. Hersham were a few players light. That led the enigmatic Geoff Stothert to take on a Manuel Neuer-like sweeper-keeper role and the ageless Russ Fogdento play an hour in the middle of the park.
Claygate certainly held their own for part of the game and at 2-2 it was far from clear that Hersham would come through. But, two goals apiece from Adam Preece-Thomas and the ever game Stevie Lewin, plus one for skipper Gene Rafique and another for Julian Renner-Thomas ultimately saw them home.
The last game in the division saw Old Tiffs pull off an impressive 2-1 win at Croxley. Jed Butcher got both of the goals. That win sees Tiffs move above Claygate and into 6thplace.
Over and out (for a while at least)
With all of the Ascot United Vets’ league fixtures now done and dusted, this will be the last of the weekly league reviews for this season. Thanks to those who have read them (I can only salute you!), and see everyone again in 2023-24.