Goalkeepers produce good saves in top of the table clash
Both goalkeepers made telling saves as leaders Ascot United drew 0-0 at high-flying Flackwell Heath on Saturday in a game neither side wanted to lose. In front of a crowd of 396, Ascot were indebted to Jamie Ashdown in the first half before home ‘keeper Jack Brooker made a sensational late save to preserve his own clean sheet.
The Heathens are the only side to have beaten Ascot United in the league this season – 1-0 back in early October – and since then The Yellamen had gone on a 23-game unbeaten streak making them formidable opposition.
But the home side still harboured title aspirations and traded plenty of half-chances with Ascot during an extremely tight first half.
Seventeen minutes in, Ascot found themselves two-on-one when Marcus Mealing (pictured, shooting-stars.co.uk) played in Brendan Matthew although he was denied by a covering defender, before the hosts went straight up the other end; Dan Bailey and Alfie Grant doubling up to snuff out Reece Cameron who had cut back onto his left before shooting.
Moments later The Heathens escaped Brooker’s fumble when he attempted to claim Harry Grant’s lofted pass; Matthew dragging the loose back wide from a difficult angle.
Mealing and Jay Welch then combined for Rob Gerrard to fire over from distance as Ascot threatened again, but the chance of the half came at the other end when Ashdown’s stunning reflexes denied Matthew Ayres; Ayres linking up well with Fabian Driffill before firing towards the inside of the left hand post only for Ashdown to tip his effort wide for a corner.
Driffill’s speculative volley from a tight angle sailed wide and Cameron later dragged wide when well placed as Flackwell finished the half strongly, but it was goalless at the break.
The second half had fewer clear-cut chances as the sides largely cancelled each other out, although substitute Aiden Higgs almost made an immediate impact from The Heathens’ bench only to head over at full stretch.
With eight minutes to go, fellow substitute Jamie Ayres fired through a crowd from Matthew Ayres’ corner although Ashdown was untroubled, before Ascot almost won it at the death. This time, The Yellamen finally got the better of the home defence – including the excellent Callum Mapley – when it looked for all the world that substitute Keaton August’s hard, low drive in the fourth minute of stoppage time looked destined for the bottom left hand corner. However, Brooker managed to get every inch of his huge frame across to somehow claw August’s effort away.
But a draw was a fair result, and that is now 24 unbeaten for The Yellamen.
Ascot United: Ashdown, Gerrard, Ajanlekoko (Lalustani 83’), A. Grant, Bailey, McCormack, H. Grant, Mealing (August 71’), Matthew, Welch, Ellis (Walters 83’). Sub unused: Lock, Bouwers