Harry Laflin inspired Ascot United to a second League Cup final date in three seasons as the Yellamen beat Kensington & Ealing Borough 3-0 at the Racecourse.
It was a welcome return for supporters as well, after a six-month shut-out, a crowd of around 300 watched as Laflin scored twice and had a hand in another to earn his side a crack at silverware on May 29th.
Jamie Tompkins side will be aiming to add to their Hellenic League Challenge Cup, won thanks to a 3-1 win over Windsor at the end of the 2018/19 season. Having departed the Hellenic League with the trophy, and as last season’s edition was cancelled, The Yellamen’s unbeaten cup streak essentially stretched back over three years.
This time it is the Combined Counties League Cup, but complacency was the watchword as, despite their lower status in hailing from Division One of the CCL, Borough had thumped Premier Division Cobham 6-1 on their travels to set up the semi-final clash.
The opening stages were a cagey affair with neither side able to gain a foothold, but the home side eventually took control and created a good chance on the quarter-hour mark when Ian Davies’s shot was beaten away by ‘keeper Juan Federico after Laflin had laid off James Haworth’s left-wing cross.
Shaun Preddie should have done better two minutes later but, leaning back with the goal at his mercy, skied his effort as Laflin had turned provider once again.
It looked good for them in the 26th minute when Borough crumbled under the mounting pressure; Laflin taking one touch from Taylor Morgan’s cross before rifling into the bottom left hand corner, much to the delight of the sizeable support behind the goal.
Captain Louis Bouwers had earlier limped off with a worrying knee injury to be replaced by Duarte Surpanu, and he would later be involved in Laflin’s second goal.
But, six minutes after the interval, the visitors wasted their best chance of a lifeline when Mohammed Belamouadden slid in Eva Batousol – who elected to shoot from distance – but dragged his effort wide when he had arguably better options to his left.
And, they would rue that missed chance moments later when Surpanu slid in Haworth on the overlap, Haworth wrapped his foot around a delicious cross, and Laflin nodded past Federico who might have done better having got hands to the downward header.
Substitute Aiden Higgs would wrap the game up just seven minutes after his 60th minute introduction for Davies – Laflin involved again before Higgs nonchalantly lofted over Federico and into the left corner – and defender Dan Bailey’s looping header from a corner rattled a post later on but The Yellamen were already setting their SatNavs for Cobham. Their opposition will be known this Saturday, when Redhill and Abbey Rangers face off in the other semi-final.
But beforehand they will bask in the moment, and full credit went go to the visitors who battled hard for ninety minutes and received huge applause from the home faithful as they graciously departed the field; a cup final of their own deservedly awaits them in the Middlesex Senior Cup.