Ascot beat Burnham 4-2 to round off league campaign
Ascot United rounded off their title-winning league campaign with a 4-2 at Burnham on Saturday, reaching an incredible 102 points for the season. Brendan Matthew (pictured, shooting-stars.co.uk) was at it again with another double to take his own tally to 46, although Rhys Forster earnt his corn at the other end with another strong of fine saves.
The match saw Harry Grant and Marcus Mealing reach 50 appearances for The Yellamen after top scorer Matthew had also reached that landmark during midweek.
Burnham, guaranteed fourth place regardless of results either at The Gore or elsewhere, were only kept out by the impressive Forster early-on, and missed a couple of other chances.
As they pressed, Jabir Laraba fired wide from Rhys Harper’s cross, Jamie Mitchell’s follow up to Leo Decaro’s free kick was easily gathered by Forster and Mitchell would later see Foster deny him once again with an audacious catch to claim his rising shot.
However, when Ascot finally threatened, they took the lead – and it was a fine team goal. Rob Gerrard started and finished the move, showing good strength down the left before finding Matthew and then Harry Grant as the Yellamen cruised from left to right wing, and after Grant picked out Sean McCormack, he delivered a delicious cross that Gerrard headed into the roof of the net; 23 minutes played.
Harry Grant was then sin-binned in the 29th minute for his remonstrations against Matthew being denied a penalty by the referee, but the numerical disadvantage had no impact – especially when Matthew staggeringly held off five covering defenders in the 36th minute and rolled an audaciously disguised effort into the bottom right-hand corner.
Jay Welch shot weakly at Carl Dennison as Ascot sought a third before half time, before Jack Penton fired straight at Forster for Burnham.
Ascot came out of the traps strongly in the second half and Matthew headed home Harry Grant’s cross to make it 3-0 two minutes after the restart.
But Forster clipped Harper in the 56th minute as he went around him – penalty Burnham – and Decaro found the corner to bring them back within two goals of Ascot.
However, Ascot’s defence held firm in the face of an attempted comeback; George Lock’s excellent covering block thwarted Harper before Louis Bouwers shut-out Decaro’s follow-up after Forster had saved from Laraba.
And, after weathering a mini spell of pressure they were out of sight when Bouwers’ exceptional header from Welch’s free kick looped over Dennison from a tight angle with one minute to play.
That wasn’t the end of it though – Laraba pounced to pick-pocket Welch who took one touch too many in the box – and he somehow squeezed the ball past Forster from a tight angle to cut the final arrears to 4-2; the first league goal conceded in open play by Ascot since 25th March.
The 75 travelling fans then stayed to applaud their side one final time, although there is league cup action for them to savour next weekend when the Yellamen go in search of more silverware.
Ascot United: Forster, Lock, Ajanlekoko, Gerrard (Bouwers 58’), A. Grant, Bailey (Mealing 86’), McCormack (Walters 46’), Grant, Matthew (August 86’), Surpanu (Balogun 58’), Welch.