Football in Berkshire

Ascot United through in FA Vase after nervy replay

Usman Lalustani settles Ascot nerves in Vase win

Ascot United through in FA Vase after nervy replay

Ascot United set up an FA Vase second qualifying round tie with Frimley Green in ten days’ time after winning 3-1 in Tuesday night’s opening qualifying round replay. After both sides had shared six goals in Friday’s initial tie, the Yellamen finally extinguished the home side’s hopes despite the dismissal of George Lock

It would be difficult for the spectators to predict how Tuesday’s replay would unfold, an outcome largely resting on whether Ascot could stay switched on for 90 minutes and Fleet’s ability to carve out sustained spells of chances. Ascot had looked to be home and dry when leading 3-0 with an hour of Friday’s tie played, but Fleet found a way to dig themselves out of a hole and staged a remarkable comeback to take the tie to extra time, which somehow remained goalless.

Read more: The Berkshire FA Vase Second Qualifying Round draw

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Two of Ascot’s James’s – Knight and Richardson – came in for Rory Merrick and Jonny Denton, whereas Fleet’s notable absentee was first-game hero Aaron Redford, who had scored two fine goals to catalyse their comeback.

Early on, Chris Harris nonchalantly allowed Usman Lalustani’s cross for Ascot to drift onto the outside of his post and behind – credit him with good judgment – before the visitors took an early lead as they had done four days earlier. Eerily similar, it was another Chris Ellis throw, another meltdown in the home defence, and Harry Laflin did just enough to hook his left foot around the high-bouncing ball to force it home.

James Richardson. Photo: Rob Mack / Shooting Stars.

Lalustani then saw a deflected effort well tipped over by Harris although the opportunity owed much to an exquisite raking pass form Ethan Burden, before the visitors doubled their lead in the 20th minute. And, it was Laflin again, although this time he sublimely hooked home a right-footed effort from the edge of the area after Ellis’s poor free kick was equally poorly cleared.

Elliot Carey was then booked for a rash challenge and Lalustani went down in the penalty area amid claims for a spot-kick, but with Ascot still bemoaning not being awarded the chance to make it three, the hosts cut the deficit with a freak goal. Picking up the ball near the dug-outs, Taylor Watts unleashed a deep cross-cum-shot that sailed over Sam Gray and into the top left.

There was still time for Ascot to survive a late scare when Gray smothered at the feet of Jack Howard, but they took their lead into the break.

Half time: Fleet Town 1-2 Ascot United

The second half was barely a minute old when play was held up for seven minutes following a clash of heads that saw Louis Bouwers require lengthy treatment.

When play finally resumed – Bouwers able to continue – there would be few clear-cut chances until James Richardson went close with a free kick midway through the half.

However, the Yellamen extended their lead in the 74th minute when Ian Davies slammed home Lalustani’s cross first-time after substitute Ben Hodges had rolled a quickly taken free kick to Lalustani.

With Ascot cruising, George Lock then saw red for a studs-up challenge, and with fully twenty minutes to play – including ten agonising minutes of injury time – the threat of another comeback loomed.

However, Fleet failed to capitalize as Ascot comfortably saw out the tie, and will now look forward to another local derby in the next round.

Full time: Fleet Town 1-3 Ascot United

Ascot United: Gray, Lock, Burden, Carey, Bouwers, Ellis, Richardson (Hodges 67’), Knight (Haworth 81’), Davies (Bennett 75’), Laflin, Lalustani. Subs unused: Carlisle, Taylor

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