27th October 2018
UHL Hellenic League Premier Division
Ascot United (1) Brackley Town Saints (1)
Saints: Worby, Middleton D (Ball), Brock, Godfrey, Goddard, Ward, Stott, Watts, Knight, Hammond, Kille
Subs not used: Jordan, Steele, Hartley, Middleton L
Another plucky performance by Saints in this top of the table clash with Ascot in which they came very close to extending their winning league run to seven games. It is fair to say that Saints took some time to come to terms with the bobbly pitch, often needing an extra touch or two.
Overall it was a closely contested game that either team could have one. Ascot were the dominant force in the first half , but Saints hit back with a very solid second half where they dominated possession and created most of the clear cut chances.
It was clear from the early stages of the game that Ascot were not fazed by Saints growing reputation, and they were quickly on the front foot, being very direct and taking full advantage of the pace of their forward line. They took the lead on 10 minutes and although there was an element of luck as an unfortunate deflection off of Jordan Godfrey set Harry Laflin away, the remainder of the move was well worked with Geoff Kibaki showing his pace and trickery before crossing for Laflin to head past Alistair Worby (1-0)
Saints were struggling to gain and retain possession and Worby, Olly Goddard, Joe Ward and Harry Brock all needed to be at their best to block shots and thwart passes with timely interceptions in a tricky opening 25 minutes.
As the half moved on Saints settled and began to get a foothold and were perhaps unfortunate on 40 minutes when James Hammond found space in midfield and managed to play in Alex Stott who calmly slotted past Allen in the Ascot goal. However the linesman flagged for offside, although many felt that it was Ryan Knight that was offside, in a non-interfering position, not Stott. However the goal was disallowed. Stott licked his wounds and was close again on the stroke of half time with a header that drifted just wide of the post.
HALF TIME - Ascot 1 Saints 0
Saints started in a much more positive fashion in the second half, although they lost Dan Middleton on 53 minutes to injury with Stott moving to right back and George Ball taking over on the right wing. Godfrey, Hammond and James Watts were now finding space in midfield and the half time rain shower had made the pitch a little faster. On 61 minutes Hammond broke free on the left and cut the ball back to the on rushing Watts whose shot was blocked. Ball collected the rebound and cut inside but could not get his shot on target.
A minute later Worby collected a cross and set Saints off on a rapid break by quickly finding Godfrey in centre field. He fizzed a raking pass out to Charlie Kill who controlled well and set Hammond free on the overlap. His cross was just too far ahead of the onrushing Ryan Knight. Almost immediately another pinpoint ball from Godfrey found Knight free on the left hand side of the box but his rising shot flew just over the corner angle of the goal.
Ascot created a couple of chances when Nathan Minhas shot narrowly wide on 68 minutes and straight at Worby on 70 minutes, but on the whole they were needing to defend resolutely as Saints kept knocking on the door. They were finally rewarded with an equaliser on 72 minutes when Godfrey picked up a clearance after a corner had been cleared. His perceptive and precise dinked pass over the defensive line found Stott who delicately controlled the ball on his chest and then deftly passing the ball past the keeper into the net (1-1).
Straight from the kick off Ascot won a free kick wide on the left just outside the box. The kick was dangerous swung in right under the bar where Ball made a brave defensive header to clear the danger. Saints continued to press. Knight shot wide, Hammond drifted across the area but shot wide and Goddard came close to getting on the end of two Brock corners.
In the 87th and 88th minute two decisions got the tongues wagging amongst the supporters. Firstly Hammond wriggled free from his marker and was in on goal when he was tripped by Fabien Etienne just outside the box. To most a red card would not have been a surprise but the referee settled for a yellow card.
A minute later a corner was cleared and immediately played back into Hammond who was free at the back post. He took the ball down on his chest and was about to pull the trigger at which point the linesman flagged for offside. Cue lots of confusion and differing opinions as it became clear that there was a defender lying in the goal as well as the goalkeeper goal side of the ball. On that basis surely he was onside. The referee congratulated his assistant on making the correct decision, and the game moved on…!
On 44 minutes Ascot had a fantastic opportunity to steal the game when Goddard, who had been solid as a rock all afternoon, was caught in 2 minds and robbed by Minhas. Goddard could only lay and watch As Minhas bore down on Worby one on one. Worby stayed on his feet until the last moment and made a brilliant save with his legs.
There was time for one more Saints corner and one more far post Goddard header, but under pressure from the Ascot defender his header bounced wide. The final whistle sounded and the consensus seemed to be that a draw was a fair result although Saints might feel that they had more of the clear cut chances.
Thanks to Ascot who were as always very friendly hosts. Saints move on to host Binfield on Wednesday evening at St James Park looking for revenge after a loss in the reverse fixture in early September. Please come and support the lads. Kick off 7-45pm.