Ascot United look to make history in Reading FC County Cup Final clash

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If any club deserves to win the Berks & Bucks FA Senior Cup then surely it is Ascot United.

They will be the outsiders when they take on Reading FC Under-23s in the final at Slough’s Arbour Park on Saturday (3pm ko), but they were just that in most previous rounds as they were up against teams from higher leagues.

The Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League club are surely making competition history as it is doubtful if any previous side has had to get through six rounds to reach the final.

They started out in the qualifying rounds, where they inflicted a 3-1 defeat on Windsor and then hammered Newport Pagnell Town 8-2. This earned them a home game against Maidenhead United in the first round, only for the National League side to pull out to leave Ascot with a walkover.

Next up were Isthmian League South Central Division club Thatcham Town, but they were thumped 3-0, and their reward was a quarter-final trip to Southern League outfit Didcot, where Ascot triumphed 3-1. At this stage, they were joined by Football League clubs Wycombe Wanderers, Reading and Milton Keynes Dons.

Louis Bouwers (right) and Rory Merrick celebrate. Photo: Neil Graham.
Louis Bouwers (right) and Rory Merrick celebrate. Photo: Neil Graham.

The home tie with League 1 club Wycombe attracted a crowd of 1,267, a record for the Racecourse Ground. There was no score after 90 minutes, but the hosts kept their cool and on the penalty shoot-out 3-1, with inspirational club captain Louis Bouwers netting the decisive spot-kick.

“That was such a big night for the club,” said manager Jamie Tompkins. “There was a great atmosphere and a great performance from the players as well, so we deserve to be in the final on merit.

“We are looking forward to it very much as it gives us a great opportunity to play in front of a big crowd against a Reading team of young professionals. It is a massive game, and I am sure there will be good support for both teams.”

Jamie Tompkins. Photo: Neil Graham / ngsportsphotography.com
Jamie Tompkins. Photo: Neil Graham / ngsportsphotography.com

Ascot have never won this prestigious B&B Cup and Tompkins believes they are the first Step 5 club to have reached the final since the competition was restructured.

United will be without former Reading FC favourite James Harper as he is cup-tied, having played against them for Windsor. The same reason rules out Kai Walters, previously with Chalfont St Peter, while young Charlie Morgan, who has been outstanding in recent games, was signed after the competition deadline.

“Apart from those, we should have everybody else available; everyone wants to play in the final,” commented Tompkins, who has now guided the club to three cup finals.

“We are looking forward to it very much as it gives us a great opportunity to play in front of a big crowd against a Reading team of young professionals.”

Tickets for the final remain available at ascotunited.net/tickets.

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