Ascot win 2-1 to ease nerves
Goals from Brendan Matthew and Ollie Harris earnt Ascot United a battling 2-1 win at Corinthian Casuals on Tuesday evening. In an early-season relegation battle, The Yellamen produced a resolute performance to give themselves a sliver of daylight at the bottom.
An early season six-pointer
Ascot’s recent form had seen them tumble to 18th, level on ten points with Northwood and Guernsey and with only Binfield below, making Tuesday’s rescheduled trip to Casuals – who were only one point better off than the trio – an early-season crunch clash.
Ryan makes his case with two assists
After surviving an early scare, Ascot were quickly into the game and were rewarded as early as the eighth minute. Ryan Case – on the front foot and down the right wing, dug out a cross which flicked up off a defender and looped to the far post where Matthew swivelled and volleyed home from six yards.
Their lead was, however, short-lived as Casuals cut the visiting defence open with one pass – Jack Smith sliding Danny Campion in – and he made no mistake in rounding ‘Hugo Sobte and sliding into a gaping net; eleven minutes played.
Ascot were next to threaten when Chris Ellis slashed wide of an inviting target after Ollie Lahtinen-Kalsi’s left-wing cross had looped up off a defender in similar fashion to their opening goal, but as the sides exchanged chances it was Sobte who kept the scores level when he palmed Smith’s 40th minute direct free-kick over the bar.
But the crucial moment of the half – and as it transpired of the game – came in the 42nd minute. Casuals’ defender Murta Kostey found himself free on the left and in the visitors’ penalty area only for Ellis to superbly pick his pocket. Case then sent a booming pass over the top for Harris on the inside right channel, and although he still had work to do he outmuscled his marker and cut in to a central position – taking ‘keeper Daniel Purdue out of the picture – before slotting into an open goal with his left foot to give Ascot a 2-1 half time lead.
Game management and the odd bum squeak
As expected, the home side pushed for another equaliser and Reanu Grosset saw an early shot from a tight angle fizz across Sobte’s goal and narrowly wide of the right hand upright.
Harris – who covered almost every blade of grass – then lost possession in the middle before looking on as Sobte made a smart save from Grosset who raced onto a quick through ball, but there were still thirty minutes to play.
Case and Harris then linked up for Matthew, who sliced wide, as Ascot sought what would have been a killer third, but from that moment it was all about game management.
Sam Balogun in midfield was his typical spoiling best, whereas Dan Bailey, back alongside Alfie Grant, epitomised his side’s desire with a crunching challenge that pretty much showed the home side they would not let them in; and so they didn’t.
At the end of the game, the twenty-or-so travelling supporters (pictured – some of them!) who had made the awkward trip stood jubilantly in admiration, and none were rewarded more so than young supporter William Powell, who sacrificed an extra evening of revision ahead of his school exam the next day.
That is commitment. But Ascot passed their own test this evening. And sterner ones will follow.
What’s next for Ascot?
The Yellamen travel to Woking-based Westfield on Saturday as their league programme continues. The match kicks off at the earlier time of 1.30pm.
Ascot United: Sobte, Lahtinen-Kalsi, Ellis (Lock 69’), A. Grant, Case, Edwards, Bailey, Matthew, Welch (Morgan 69’), Balogun (McCormack 81’), Harris. Subs unused: Sykes, Laflin
Reporter’s Star Man: Ryan Case (Ascot United)
Away fans (estimate): 20