Ascot United kick started the weekend’s FA Vase First Round fixtures with crushing 5-1 win at Sporting Club Thamesmead on Friday night, inspired by Harry Laflin’s hat-trick. With the hosts sharing Bayliss Avenue with Welling Town, the two sides elected to bring their tie forward from Saturday, being one of three ties played on the same evening.
The other Vase fixture involving a Berkshire side was due to be Binfield at Egham Town but that tie was called off due to the weather on Saturday afternoon.
Back to Friday night in East London, Southern Counties East Division One side Thamesmead were relishing the opportunity to upset fifth-tier Ascot – one level above them in the pyramid – but would need to break new boundaries to do it after seeing off fellow step six sides in their two previous qualifying rounds.
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The only boundaries being broken early on were the heavens, which opened as the whistle blew, unleashing fully five minutes of a biblical-scale downpour.
Usman Lalustani might have done better with an early shot over the crossbar, but in-form Laflin delivered the opener in the ninth minute. After Jonny Denton had been fouled outside the area, Laflin stepped up to bend a delicious free-kick over the wall and into the top left-hand corner.
Lalustani then shot over the bar again when in two minds whether to go for the lob or for power, and when he did get a shot on target, he was denied by Aaron Cathrew who turned his shot away after Denton had played him in.
At the other end, Sam Gray stood up well to beat Michael Olatunji’s vicious effort away for a corner when it looked as if the hosts would equalise, but Ascot added a deserved second goal in the 25th minute when Ian Davies glanced Denton’s right-wing corner in at the far post from inside the six-yard area.
Laflin then broke clear and showed superb quick feet to take Cathrew out of the equation – from right foot to left and slotting home – to give his side a three-nil lead on the half-hour mark, but only the woodwork would deny Thamesmead what would have been the goal of the evening soon afterwards when Chris Hubbard’s brilliant free-kick cannoned back of the inside of the right hand post, flew across the goal-mouth, and for him was sadly cleared.
Emerging for the second half with a three-nil lead, the Yellamen’s tempo reduced, but after 65 minutes Ben Hodges started and finished a superb move to put his side four-nil up. The goal itself came following a Thamesmead attack, but Gray’s quick thinking allowed Hodges to pick out Lalustani on the left, and after Hodges had charged the full length of the field, he was on hand to rifle home a return pass from just inside the area.
Laflin completed his hat-trick when he nodded home three minutes later but the home side had the last word when Dan Edwards scored a fine consolation just under fifteen minutes from full time.
Ascot United: Gray, Burden, Haworth, Carey, Bouwers, Ellis (Etienne 76’), Hodges, Denton (Merrick 77’), Davies (Bennett 68’), Laflin, Lalustani. Unused subs: Lock, Hayes, Smith