Title race blown open as Ascot win 2-1
Katie Vince was the star as Ascot United Women fought back from a goal down to win 2-1 against Eastleigh on Sunday. Vince scored one and was involved in another on a day when title rivals Bournemouth Sports let a one-goal lead of their own slip against Wycombe as the title pendulum swung once again.
Quiet first half yields little
The first half was a sedate affair with few clear chances, Ascot probing in and around the visitors’ penalty area but failing to find a way through, whereas the visitors themselves struggled to fashion any meaningful chance of their own in the face of a resolute home defence.
Vince’s 25th minute cross was sliced onto the outside of her own post by visiting defender Harriet McHugh in the first real move of note, and Vince herself forced an unorthodox save from visiting ‘keeper Shree Bell-Jack in first half injury time.
In between those chances Claudia Weston’s excellent covering tackle denied Ascot’s Amelia Kimble a shooting chance just when it looked as if Tiff Skinner had played her in and Philippa Holden’s long-range shot was plucked out of the air by Bell-Jack six minutes before the interval, but it remained goalless at half time.
Second half better as late drama unfolds
Early-on, Bell-Jack did well to hold onto Kimble’s powerful close range effort before Skinner’s effort in the following play was headed clear.
Eastleigh then conjured a half-chance when Molly Pinnick found Claudia Weston, Weston’s delivery into the box was laid off by Cathrine Browning to Lucy Nightingale, but she skied her effort high and wide.
But Bell-Jack was the busier of the two ‘keepers and she would make a fine double save to deny Kimble’s curling effort, before somehow recovering to block Sarah Jones’s follow-up, although the first goal would come just after the hour mark. And, having weathered the early pressure, Eastleigh struck it with an incisive counter-attack. The goal itself owed much to a fantastic through-ball from McHugh who picked out the run of Siena Millen, and although Roz Markham – in goal as a half time replacement for Nicole Spittle – did well to save the first attempt, Millen kept her cool to slot home the rebound.
Vince re-emerges to turn game on its head
Ascot’s response was positive as Dom Carrington fired over following a corner, but it was the re-introduction of Vince that turned the game on its head. Merely seconds after coming back on, she was in the right place to hammer home a sweet half-volley into the bottom right hand corner after Jess Drage’s punt into the danger area had caused mayhem amongst the Eastleigh defenders; 77 minutes played.
And, pushing for a winner after sensing that Bournemouth has squandered their lead a few miles up the road at Wycombe’s Burnham home, Vince’s quick feet teased out a free kick in a dangerous, central position with eight minutes of regulation time remaining.
Cue Holden, and she found the top right-hand corner to complete the turnaround.
There were eight minutes of added time after an earlier serious injury to promising youngster Ailsa Sheppard; her departure on a stretcher clutching both knee and hamstring was the only blot on an otherwise good day at the office.
The Yellawomen are three points clear of Bournemouth who have a game in hand, but the two sides meet in Dorset in two weeks’ time in a game which could shape the destiny of the title.
What’s next for Ascot?
The Yellawomen are in league cup quarter final action next Sunday with the visit of league rivals Woodley United.
Reporter’s Star Player: Katie Vince (Ascot United). A sensational, match-winning display oozing energy and desire.
Ascot United: Spittle, Drage, Moss (née Spark), Luckhurst-McCord, Vince, Todd, Holden, Carrington, Skinner, Kimble, Huntley. Subs (rolling): Cruickshanks, Markham, Sheppard, Leonard, Barrett, Jones (née Leonard)
Attendance (est): 50 (10 away)
Scorers: Vince 77’, Holden 82’