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Ascot Utd 2 Chesham Utd 3
Chesham United moved up to fourth place in the Southern Region League Division One with a battling away win over hosts Ascot United.
Trailing at the break, a quickfire trio of strikes saw Chesham in charge, only for a late rally to nearly haul Ascot back level. Both teams defied increasingly bad weather to provide an exciting match full of twists and turns on a Racecourse pitch which provided an excellent surface in conditions which led to numerous postponements and abandoned matches elsewhere in the region.
Ascot started the match very positively and created lots of chances in the opening twenty minutes. The hosts took the lead in the ninth minute when Hannah Evans picked up a poor clearance and fed Lucy Holzman-Clarke who lofted a cross shot over Chesham keeper Lucia Masella. Holzman-Clarke nearly returned the favour after a fine run, but Evans' shot was blocked for a corner. Evans went close again when a goalbound effort was deflected inches wide and the home team looked dangerous with every attack.
Chesham began to gain a foothold in the contest about midway through the half and it took an outstanding save from Sophie Bulpitt to deny Naomi Littler the equaliser. The winger cut inside and lofted a curling shot towards the far corner and Bulpitt timed her leap perfectly to tip the dropping ball against the bar and away to safety. Chesham continued to have good possession but were well contained up to the break by solid defending from the Ascot back line, confining the visitors to long range efforts well handled by the keeper.
The second period started in the same manner with Laura Barton going very close from distance for Chesham. Littler then beat two defenders only to be denied by a brave Bulpitt save in a one on one.
Eventually it was two right side corners well delivered by Barton which turned the match around the hour mark. The first found Lisa Welling for a perfect close range headed finish, the second was forced home by Paula Lambert via a looping header which dropped against the post and just over the line.
When Lambert added the third with a precise finish when played in by Pia Davis, the visitors had scored three in seven minutes. Davis nearly added a fourth herself but was denied by Bulpitt who also did well when Dawne Campbell burst through the defence, racing from her line to close down the Chesham skipper, who shot wide on 75 minutes.
Ascot showed good spirit to mount a strong comeback in the final fifteen minutes. Sub Jodie Webb started the ball rolling with a strong run only blocked at the last. Another run to the line brought a low cross which was turned home by Holzman-Clarke via a post despite an attempt to clear off the line on 80 minutes.
An unfortunate incident led to the visiting keeper and the home scorer being sent off two minutes later and Ascot pressed hard for the equaliser. Webb went very close with a header from a free kick but despite their best efforts, time ran out on Ascot's attempts to level.
In a very evenly contested league, Chesham moved to six points behind new leaders Banbury United. Ascot remain in ninth place but with enough games left to radically improve their final position, including the reverse fixture in two weeks time.
Ascot United: Sophie Bulpitt, Alex Todd, Courtney Gibbons, Lauren Broadhurst, Stephanie Fettes, Lauren Futcher, Olivia Howell, Claire Hudson, Alice Hyde, Hannah Evans, Lucy Holzman-Clarke. Subs: Laura Rowley, Jodie Webb, Niomi Collins, Jess Winchester.
Chesham United: Lucia Masella, Emma Brockwell, Dawne Campbell, Di Killey, Anna Imrie, Naomi Littler, Sian Hardaker, Paula Lambert, Laura Barton, Pia Davis, Lisa Welling. Subs: Sian Williams, Cath Andrews.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Lucy Holzmann-Drake is sandwiched between Naomi Littler and Emma Brockwell
(middle) Pia Davis gets in a shot past Steph Fettes
(bottom) Dawne Campbell battles with Lauren Broadhurst
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