Ascot United and Fleet Town will do it all again next week after a pulsating FA Vase 1st qualifying round tie on Friday evening. Leading 3-0 with just over 30 minutes remaining, the Yellamen saw Fleet fight back to take the match into extra time, before both sides slugged out a goalless extra thirty minutes.
Ascot manager Jamie Tompkins kept faith with the same starting line-up that had cruised to a 4-0 win at Raynes Park Vale last weekend. That win had taken them top of the Combined Counties League, although their Wessex League opposition had already shown their cup pedigree in the FA Cup this season and would be eager to make their mark in their first FA Vase game in almost two decades.
However, the main marks on the first half were made by Ascot, who dominated for long spells and found themselves two goals up inside twenty minutes, largely thanks to their aerial presence.
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They had already threatened early on when Usman Lalustani’s powerful shot was gathered at the second attempt by Chris Harris after just seven minutes, but a quarter-of-an-hour in and they were ahead following route-one football. Winning a throw-in on the left, Chris Ellis launched a trademark missile, and under heavy pressure Harris would fumble before Louis Bouwers bundled home the pieces.
Bouwers was involved again as Ascot doubled their advantage five minutes later, this time heading back Jonny Denton’s deep cross for Harry Laflin and Lalustani to attack; the latter appearing to get the final touch.
Fleet’s sizeable home support behind the goal had been silent for a long time until captain Samuel Williams thumped a post from a long range free-kick – 34 minutes played – the ball scrambled clear, but it was Ascot who had a good chance for a third on the stroke of half time when Harris smothered Rory Merrick just as it looked as if Laflin’s exquisite dink over the defence had teed up a certain goal.
Half time: Ascot United 2 – 0 Fleet Town
The second half was a pulsating affair and it all looked over for Fleet when Ian Davies toe-poked home Merrick’s delicious cross with just under an hour played.
However, the hosts responded immediately with a goal from the top drawer; Aaron Redmond unleashing a thunderbolt from thirty yards that flew into the top left.
Elliot Carey’s fine tackle denied lively Fleet substitute Enow Ojong but the Hampshire side cut the deficit again in the 71st minute when Sam Gray’s save cannoned in off Bouwers following Bradley Wilson’s earlier cross.
Incredibly, Ojong missed a glorious chance to level when clean through barely a minute later, but the equaliser would soon arrive from the boot of Redford who curled an exquisite free kick over the wall and into the top left; 79 minutes played.
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Gray made a breathtaking late save to block Redmond’s goal-bound shot at the far post three minutes from time, although Lalustani saw an even later effort go wide for Ascot.
Ascot regained the ascendancy in extra time and Davies should have won it for them. In the first period, he found himself clean through only to be thwarted by good defending as he checked and turned, before wasting a golden opportunity at the end of the second period when Harris’s dreadful clearance ended at his feet, only for him to blast high and wide.
In between those chances Lalustani miscued at the far post and man-of-the-match Carey’s long range effort almost sneaked through, but the two sides will do it all again next week.
Full time: Ascot United 3 – 3 Fleet Town
Ascot United: Gray, Lock (Haworth 61’), Burden, Carey, Bouwers, Ellis, Merrick (Knight 67’), Denton, Davies, Laflin (Richardson 67’), Lalustani. Subs unused: Carlisle, Hodges, Taylor
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