|HOLMER GREEN HANG ON TO DENT ASCOT HOPES
Solitary goal enough for battling Bucks side
A solitary goal was enough for battling Holmer Green to end Ascot United’s unbeaten start to the season on Tuesday. The Buckinghamshire side scored a late breakaway goal after Ascot had twice struck the woodwork, but their resilient defending ultimately earned them a second win of the season.
Despite being new to the Uhlsport Hellenic League, Holmer Green and Ascot United had met previously in the 2014-15 FA Vase campaign. That season, a 2-2 draw in Bucks preceded a crushing replay win for Ascot.
And, there were familiar faces in both sides’ opposing ranks, with the Greens’ James Burrell and United’s Ben Hodges having represented the two teams in their careers, whilst popular ex-Yellaman Jamie West watched from the sideline whilst nursing the knee he injured playing for the home side three days earlier.
The first half wasn’t a great footballing spectacle with clear-cut chances at a premium, and when they did arrive, the best of them fell to the visitors.
However, it was the home side who enjoyed most of the early possession and despite probing for long spells, they only carved out a miscued Dan Hunt effort that was tucked away by Jon Cox, but he had long been flagged offside.
For Ascot, Jean-Claude Etienne saw a brace of efforts go begging in quick succession; the first a horribly sliced shot after a superb ball from Callum Carlisle and the second a powerful shot which had all the pace taken out of it by a deflection and which ‘keeper Aaron Brown would gather.
Holmer Green’s Martin Lancaster blazed a free-kick over when centrally well-placed after 28 minutes, before Ascot’s Nathan Minhas saw two shots from narrow angles saved by Brown. Trevor Mutero’s ball over the defence then saw Etienne fashion another effort that deflected wide, but Ascot couldn’t force an opener.
The visitors came within inches of taking a 52nd minute lead when defender Zach Crawford somehow diverted Mutero’s thumping effort onto the crossbar – Boultwood blazing the follow-up over – before Boultwood himself struck the top of the crossbar with just over fifteen minutes remaining just after substitute Kai Walters had tested Brown once again.
Having made two substitutions and looking increasingly threatening, Ascot then found themselves chasing the game when Mutero lost possession in midfield, and Dan Hunt exposed an out-of-position Fabien Etienne by sliding in Cox, who in turn slotted the ball past the advancing Lee Allen.
With sixteen minutes of regulation time remaining and at least five minutes of stoppage time due to two lengthy injuries, the Yellamen should have had enough time to force an equaliser, but the home defence stood up to the challenge and only Fabien Etienne would go close with a late diving header.
Hunt’s even later effort for ‘Green might have flattered his side as it deflected wide for a corner, before a somewhat bemusingly early full time whistle cut four minutes off what should have been seven add minutes of play. Nonetheless, Holmer Green’s exceptional rearguard had earned their clean sheet.
Ascot United: Allen, Lock, F Etienne, Carlisle (Denton 72’), Boultwood, Ellis, Mutero (Stubbs 76’), Hodges (Walters 64’), Minhas, Price, JC Etienne, Subs unused: Willmott, Haworth