Sheppard’s late strike salvages 2-2 draw

Ailsa Sheppard scored twice, including a stoppage time equaliser, to earn Ascot United a point against battling Winchester City Flyers on Sunday afternoon. In blustery conditions, the Yellawomen twice came from behind to ensure they remained level on points at the top of the table.

Yellawomen look to regain top spot but wary of Winchester

Ascot had relinquished top spot to Bournemouth Sports one week earlier, but with the leaders now not in action this was a chance for the Yellawomen to leapfrog them and keep the pressure on with just six games remaining. Flyers, however, had frustrated Ascot for long spells in the latter’s one-nil reverse fixture victory in November, and had recorded a confidence-boosting 4-0 win over fellow strugglers Badshot Lea two weeks earlier.

No wind up! Flyers battle elements to lead at half time

Both sides had to contend with the increasingly strong wind, none more so than the visitors who struggled to get out of their own half early-on in the face of a gale.

The Yellawomen weren’t in top gear to take advantage of the wind at their backs, although Winchester were indebted to their ‘keeper and the woodwork midway through the half when Shannon White got enough on Amelia Kimble’s low shot to turn it up and onto the crossbar and over for a corner; Tiff Skinner the provider in the build-up. And, from the resulting corner, Alix Todd’s inswinging delivery cannoned back of the angle of post and bar before being scrambled clear.

At the other end, Emily McDonough and the lively Shayne Prasad linked up for Libby Wilkinson – who could only fire wide when in a decent position right-centre of goal – but it was otherwise Ascot who threatened when Skinner fired wide on her left and Kimble blasted over following pressure from Philippa Holden.

To their credit, an organized Winchester defence continued to snuff out the hosts, and they were rewarded in a rare foray forwards five minutes before the break. This time, Charlie Snelling’s run teed up Prasad, and although her shot struck a post it was Eliza Eaton who mopped up the pieces and slotted home from close range.

Holden’s smart touch in first half injury time created space for a shot as Ascot sought a leveller before the break, but her effort lacked enough power to trouble White and it was the visitors who held the advantage at the break.

Ailsa shepherds her side to a point

Now with the wind in their faces, the Yellawomen were first to show in the second half and duly equalised in the 51st minute when Holden clipped the ball over the defence for Sheppard to run on to, and she nipped in between White and her defence to tickle home from outside the box.

Prasad remained a lively threat for Winchester and she Spun nicely off Hannah Chalk’s 72nd minute pass only to shoot straight at Roz Markham when well placed.

Ascot struggled for long spells, in part due to the conditions and clearly missing Katie Vince and Maddie Robertson who had both limped off in the first half, and they were soon on the end of what looked like a smash-and-grab raid. Indeed, Winchester thought they had won it with five minutes remaining when substitute Amber Taylor showed great strength to shrug off the home defence, before firing over Markham and into the net to give her side a 2-1 lead.

However, a desperate finale saw Ascot throw everything at Winchester as Sarah Jones went down amidst claims for a penalty before firing wide moments later, but they would not be denied as Sheppard blasted a sweet left-footed effort into the top left from outside the area in the first of four added minutes to rescue a point and protect her side’s unbeaten home league record.

The result ensured Ascot drew level with Bournemouth, albeit having played a game more and crucially with a vastly inferior goal difference.

What’s next for Ascot?

The Yellawomen are back in league cup action against Warminster Town Ladies next weekend (Racecourse, 2pm).

Entertainment: 3

Reporter’s Star Player: Ailsa Sheppard (Ascot United). A solid display and scored 2 good goals.

Ascot United: Markham, Drage, Moss (née Spark), Luckhurst-McCord, Richardson-Taylor, Vince, Todd, Holden, Robertson, Skinner, Kimble. Subs (rolling): Spittle, Couzens, Sheppard, Jones (née Leonard)

Attendance (est): 40 (10 away)

Scorers: Sheppard 51’, 90+1’




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