Match Report versus Ascot United (26/3/22)
By Steve Williams
Ascot United 2 Tadley Calleva 2
Fresh from their midweek cup victory over Wycombe Wanderers, the home side were confident but concerned that their exertions may have taken its toll. With a league and cup double over us at Barlows Park to their credit, Ascot exerted dominance from the start of this season's third meeting. Both teams lined up in 4-4-2 formation, but Ascot were better in all departments from the outset and were posing consistent threats through left sided wide player Duarte Surpanu and central striker Taylor Morgan. For Tadley, full back Aiden Harris was prominent with an early lengthy forward run and also working hard to contain the lively Surpanu. On 10 minutes, Keaton August received the ball in a central position 30 yards out and struck a powerful rising shot into the top right hand corner leaving Craig Atkinson with no chance. Still Tadley were laboured, with sloppy passing and no real penetration, hampered by a dead leg picked up by striker Ben Wright during the warm-up. This was a strange contrast to the flowing football Tadley had been playing in their previous 10 games. The only product going forward was two pretty tame shots and a fine driven cross by Brett Denham, after he received Kieran Maylen's diagonal pass to the wing. Unfortunately, the pace of the cross just eluded Kalum Cousins closing in at the far post. The Tadley defence had to work hard to absorb the wave of Ascot attacks, but were eventually undone in the 34th minute when Surpanu released overlapping left back Josh Masters who crossed for Taylor Morgan to side foot home from 4 yards. Tadley were struggling to respond and went in at half time knowing that this had been their worst performance in a very long time and that things would have to change if anything was to be taken from the game. (HT 2-0)
Joint Managers Ben Dillon and Joe Lawler sent out unchanged personnel for the second half, but changed the formation to 4-3-3 with Cousins on the left and Denham on the right either side of Ben Wright. In the 54th minute, Jack French, on the edge of the penalty area, swept a curling left foot shot high on target that home keeper Sam Gray got a hand to but failed to stop it clearly crossing the line.......as was supported by the Assistant's flag. Conceding this goal, bickering with the match officials and perhaps a degree of complacency seemed to adversely affect the quality of Ascot's play. Suddenly the spirited Tadley were on top. Soon after the goal an injured Aaron Parfitt was replaced in central midfield by Scott Kinge. Two strong claims for a penalty at both ends of the ground were turned down by the referee. Denham being on the losing end from Tadley's perspective. Ascot were coming under some pressure, but still found time to see substitute James Richardson's left foot drive hit the inside of the post and bounce clear to safety. The composed Atkinson was called upon to deal comfortably with several crosses and to make a save at the feet in one attack. In the 63rd and 65th minutes, both teams main strikers, Wright and Morgan, were replaced. Wright being replaced by Callum Cleary. By now the Tadley midfield were making an impact with French doing very good work in central midfield, Ousman Darboe showing his true self and Scott Kinge clearing up by winning key headers and also using the ball constructively. In the 80th minute, it was the two Tadley substitutes who combined for the equaliser. Kinge neatly chipped a 15 yard through pass for Cleary to touch first time past the out rushing Gray. A minute later, the injured Harris was replaced by Marc Vockins who helped Tadley to withstand some aerial pressure in the final minutes. As the clock wound down Jordan Goater came on to replace Kalum Cousins. (FT 2-2)
Faced with the first half onslaught, Tadley would probably have folded in the first part of the season, but as was shown here, this Tadley team has spirit, fight and determination as well as quality across the whole squad.
Tadley's next match is at home to Windsor on Tuesday 5th April, kick off 7.45pm.
Tadley Calleva: Craig Atkinson, Aiden Harris (sub 81' Marc Vockins), Tom Walsh (C), Brad Neal, Kieran Maylen, Kalum Cousins (sub 87' Jordan Goater), Aaron Parfitt (sub 55' Scott Kinge), Ousman Darboe, Brett Denham, Ben Wright (sub 63' Callum Cleary), Jack French.
Unused Subs: Andrew Charsley
Ascot's Keaton August opening the scoring (Photo courtesy of Ascot United FC)