Lee Matthews celebrates with his Wallingford Town management team. Photo: Cameron Howard.
Lee Matthews celebrates with his Wallingford Town management team. Photo: Cameron Howard / cameronhowardphotography.com

Match of the Day: Wallingford Town vs Ascot United in the FA Vase

A focus Wallingford Town vs Ascot United - our pick of the
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Lee Matthews celebrates with his Wallingford Town management team. Photo: Cameron Howard.
Lee Matthews celebrates with his Wallingford Town management team. Photo: Cameron Howard / cameronhowardphotography.com

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A new Football in Berkshire feature as we look ahead to the weekend’s action and try to pick out one game to preview that really stands out for us.

This week it’s the FA Vase First Round Proper with three ties including Berkshire sides – the game we’ve picked out involves two Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League sides – Wallingford Town and Ascot United.

Wally play in Division One and are unbeaten so far. Managed by Lee Matthews they’ve beaten Clanfield 85 and Bishop’s Cleeve in their two Vase games this season. Premier Division North Ascot are coming off the back of a six game-winning run that was ended at Windsor last weekend but have beaten Hengrove Athletic and Tadley Calleva in previous matches.

Lee Matthews, Wallingford Town manager:

We’re under no illusions, let’s face it, Ascot could do very very well in this competition this season, they could go all the way.

I’ve been in the FA Vase with other teams and you always hope for an easier draw in the earlier rounds to get through them, but this is as tough as it could be for us.

We’ve watched Ascot, and we’re certainly the underdogs going into the game, not just because we’re step 6 and they’re step 5. But of course you never know in cup football, no replays this year and whatever happens on the day is up to us, but what I’ll say is that we tend to score! There’s usually a lot of goals in our games.

Listen to the FiB podcast including our FA Vase preview:

On the previous round: Against Bishop’s Cleeve in the previous round, also step 5, I still felt we were in the game in the 90th minute. Our ‘keeper got injured, we had our centre-back in goal for the penalties and he saved one of them!

For our lads, a lot of them, this will be one of the biggest games they’ve played in. Ascot’s average crowd is about 200, ours more like 40, so we’re hoping they’ll bring a few with them, we’re hoping a few locals will come down and support us and we hope it’s a tightly contested, good game for them.

Last season step 6 US Portsmouth made the semi-finals. There are mitigating circumstances like the cancellation of the leagues so they could get consistency, but that doesn’t mean I’ve even thought that we could do that. If the draw is good if your luck is in as a step 6 side maybe, but it’s not a goal of ours or an expectation. You can dream, but quietly!

Wallingford Town boss Lee Matthews. Photo: Cameron Howard.
Wallingford Town boss Lee Matthews. Photo: Cameron Howard.

On preparations: We’re near enough at full strength with a squad of 21 but we have one suspension, if we’d played last week that wouldn’t be a problem. We have a final training session tonight so hopefully, we come through that unscathed.

The squad is great, it’s gelled quickly with our new faces and those that were with Glenn Goudie last season.

On the season so far: We don’t want to get carried away. We’re the only unbeaten side in the division but we’ve had a lot of draws. For some of our players with us in the Hellenic League or used to that competition, it’s a long league season with 40 games. In the Hellenic when you were 10 in you had a decent idea of how your were doing.

We’ve got a bigger squad because of Covid this season, but 5 subs in the Combined Counties is a real bonus, it enables us to keep people involved, we don’t make silly subs but it helps.

What Ascot United have said

Ascot United manager Jamie Tompkins. Photo: Neil Graham / ngsportsphotography.com

Yellamen boss Jamie Tompkins spoke to Football in Berkshire ahead of the game. He said: “FA Vase games always come with added excitement and importance. We have players returning from injury and expect a very tough match against Wallingford Town away, who are unbeaten this season, and look set for a successful season.”

Full Ascot preview here.

Wallingford Town and Ascot United in the FA Vase in 2021/22

A curiosity for Berkshire recently in the Vase is a lack of home games, Binfield famously didn’t play a single home tie on the way to the final last season and both Wallingford and Ascot were away in both games so far this season. That of course ends for Wallingford on Saturday.

FA Vase Second Qualifying Round

  • Bishop’s Cleeve 4-4 Wallingford Town (Wallingford win 4-3 on penalties)
  • Tadley Calleva 1-4 Ascot United

FA Vase First Qualifying Round

  • Hengrove Athletic 0-2 Ascot United
  • Clanfield 85 2-3 Wallingford Town

Where is Wallingford Town?

Wallingford’s ground, Hithercroft, is within the Wallingford Sports Park of Hithercroft Road in Oxfordshire.

Steven Sherwood in the tea hut at Wallingford Town AFC. Photo: Cameron Howard.
Steven Sherwood in the tea hut at Wallingford Town AFC. Photo: Cameron Howard.

The ground shares space with a number of sports clubs including Wallingford Rugby Club, Squash, Archery and more. There are also a couple of bars for supporters at the game and a tea bar next to the pitch – as featured in last weeks pics of the week.

The ground famously used to be home to a double-decker bus – much like the one at Deal Town – but in recent years that has been removed. The club’s chairman is Glenn Goudie, previously manager at the club and well known across the Berkshire football community. In fact there’s a podcast we did with Glenn here.

Address: Wallingford Town AFC, Hithercroft Road, Wallingford OX10 9RB

Other Buildbase FA Vase First Round fixtures involving Berkshire sides

Berks County vs Burnham – BUY TICKETS
Blackfield & Langley vs Wokingham & Emmbrook
Wallingford Town vs Ascot United

A full list of all the weekend fixtures across Berkshire is here.

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