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Ascot sparkle in 2-0 South Park win

Ascot United produced their best performance for several weeks as they comfortably eased past South Park (Reigate) on Saturday. Goals in each half, backed up by a clean sheet from mighty Mark Scott, were enough for The Yellamen, who extended their run to five games without defeat.

Two sides meeting in no-man’s land

The visitors arrived ten points off a play off spot and knowing that only an unlikely run of victories plus slip-ups elsewhere might give them hope of being in the end-of season mix up, whereas the hosts – also with ten games remaining – would need a similarly improbable turn of events in the run-in to threaten their increasingly comfortable position of thirteenth; 17 points clear of the bottom two.

Harry Laflin jetted back into the starting line-up after International duty for England in a Mexican six-a-side tournament in Ascot’s only change to their starting line up from last week, whereas George Lock remained in the hunt to equal Ascot’s all time appearance record. Should he feature in each of his side’s remaining nine games after this outing, he will draw level with Jon Bennett on 262 games.

Injuries dominate stop-start half

The first half was punctuated by injuries and stoppages which ultimately extended it by eight minutes. Visiting defender Sam Tutt was the first to go – hobbling off holding his back with barely fifteen minutes on the clock – before Ben Harris pulled a hamstring late in the half when stretching to try and convert at the far post. In between all that, Laflin and Daniel Pappoe collided – both ending up with their heads bandaged – but both able to continue.

As for the action, Lock and Craig Mlepe were wasteful with early chances for Ascot and South Park respectively, before the home side had genuine penalty appeals waved away when Mlepe took Sean McCormack’s feet from under him.

Harris then went close with a diving header under pressure – Liam Tack swinging the ball across – before McCormack’s first touch let him down in front of a gaping target after Usman Lalustani had whipped in the cross.

But moments later, substitute Morgan was involved as Ascot took a 44th minute lead; Tack and Grant both involved in the build-up as the former dinked the ball through for Morgan, who did well to round his marker and dig out a cross that Laflin converted on the volley (pictured, shooting-stars.co.uk).

Yellamen maintain pressure after the break

It was largely comfortable for the home side in the second half and even when the visitors threatened it was often due to sloppy moments in possession that gifted their visitors opportunities.

The first of them came went Grant lost out in midfield, allowing Sam King to pick out Jamarie Brissett on the left wing, and he cut inside and curled a decent effort that ‘keeper Scott nonchalantly plucked out of the air.

Man-of-the-match Laflin then headed straight at visiting ‘keeper Daniel Bracken from Chris Ellis’s long throw-in, but Ellis would sadly hobble off late-on clutching his knee as the list of walking wounded grew.

The Sparks were surprisingly poor although Scott stood up well to beat Courtney Swabey’s powerful shot away and Lock’s brilliant covering tackle on the opposite wing to where he was playing ensured King’s effort would find no way through, but it was otherwise all Ascot and only Bracken’s fingertips stopped team mate Cerny Ando’s sliced clearance from finding his own net after mis-cuing from the impressive Morgan’s cross.

Ando’s shaky afternoon almost peaked when he was robbed trying to play out, but Ollie Lahtinen-Kalsi – one of three wise Yellamen who could have been man-of-the-match – saw his low shot deflect wide for a corner.

Sit back? Never!

With the game edging towards what became six added minutes, Harry Tucker’s important block diverted Ryan Healy’s attempt wide in The Sparks’ last meaningful foray forwards, but to their credit The Yellamen continued to press in and around all of that.

And, they were rewarded in the first minute of overages. Tack did superbly well to win possession with a strong challenge, the ball broke to Ollie Harris and he galloped thirty-or-so metres forwards – his team-mates went with him sucking the defenders away – and Harris exposed the space with a dipping long-range effort that left Bracken with no chance.

After that the home side comfortably played out the final five minutes, much to the appreciation of the majority of the crowd of 221.

What’s next for Ascot?

It’s a date with Southall at Burnham and, possibly, a certain striker that made a bit of a name for himself around these parts.

Ascot United: Scott, Lock, Lahtinen-Kalsi, Tack, Ellis (Bailey 86’), Tucker, McCormack, H. Grant, B. Harris (Morgan 38’), Laflin (O. Harris 74’), Lalustani. Subs unused: Mason, Edwards

Entertainment: 4

Reporter’s Star Man: Harry Laflin (Ascot)

Away fans (estimate): 15

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