Ascot fight back to win 4-3 in see-saw encounter
Ascot United Women led, fell behind and then fought back to win against Oxford City as they made it two wins from their opening two Southern Region Women’s football league games on Sunday. The Yellawomen were two goals up early-on before City turned it around ahead of the hour mark, but substitutes Nicole Brown and Tiff Skinner (pictured scoring) popped up with late goals in a thrilling match.
Spark ignites early goal-rush
The visitors swarmed around Ascot like wasps early-on, but after weathering the early onslaught the home side would take the lead with their first attack. City conceded a free kick on the edge of their area, and Laura Spark duly stepped up to fire a delightful effort into the top left-hand corner; just four minutes played.
The Yellawomen doubled their lead just three minutes later when Phillipa Holden threaded the ball through for Amelia Kimble, and her first-time shot was fumbled by visiting ‘keeper Holly Jenkins into the gleeful path of Hayley Cruickshank, who fired home.
Cruickshank would later hit the top of the crossbar, but her side also came under pressure from the lively visitors.
Oxford keep pace and get just rewards
Just before Cruckshank’s effort, Sarah Killick-Bird’s brilliant interception diverted Ellie White’s first-time shot wide from Emily Harris’s cross, although the livewire pair linked up to cut the deficit in the 29th minute when White found Harris in space, and her left-footed shot from just left of goal had just enough power to get past the hand of Chloe Donnellan before bouncing into the net.
Ascot’s rolling substitute Nicole Brown came on and twice tested Jenkins – the first effort forcing a fine low save and secondly firing straight at the City ‘stopper, but it remained 2-1 as the sides changed ends.
City slickers force ahead
The second half began as the first had done with a goal after just three minutes, but this time it fell to Oxford who punished the home side’s failed effort to play out; White ultimately drawing her side level from close range.
Spark then found the crossbar again via the fingertips of Jenkins as Ascot sought an immediate response, but the wind was till in City’s sails and White would confidently bury her 57th minute spot-kick to make it 3-2; an improbable turnaround now very much a reality.
Substitutes make their mark as squad shows character
However, the home side responded brilliantly and all five replacements had an impact.
One of them, Izzy Woods, was rewarded for her press which led to Kimble dragging agonisingly wide and Alix Todd would also see an effort fizz over, but the momentum was clearly with the high-pressing hosts as the game entered the final fifteen minutes.
And, City eventually cracked as two other replacements, Chloe Connor and Nicole Brown, started and finished a move via Woods’ through ball for Brown to hammer into the top left; 3-3 and game on.
Brown then forced a brilliant close-range save from replacement ‘keeper Iona Ffrench-Adam, but in the aftermath Tiff Skinner – only introduced eight minutes earlier, lobbed back over Adam from a tight angle to make it 4-3 complete the turnaround.
There were still thirteen minutes plus overages for the home side to hang on, but this time they did so; Erin Huntley the last of the fab five replacements shoring up a resilient rearguard.
What’s next for Ascot?
Ascot welcome newly-promoted Badshot Lea in a league encounter next weekend, The Baggies having won one and lost one of their opening two matches.
Ascot United: Donellan, Luckhurst-McCord, Killick-Bird, Spark, Todd, Fox, Carrington, Holden, Cruickshank, Kimble, Sheppard. Subs, all used (rolling): Brown, Woods, Connor, Skinner, Huntley
Reporter’s Star Player: Phillipa Holden (Ascot United) – excellent in midfield, combative and shoed great distribution.
Attendance (estimate): 60