The Non-League Football Paper
DOUBLE DREAM ON FOR UNITED
Sean fires Yellamen to date at Wembley
SEAN McCormack’s deciding spot-kick sent Combined Counties League Premier North runaway leaders Ascot galloping to Wembley’s famous arch at the end of a heart-stopping encounter at a muddy and breathless Southbank, home to heartbroken Corsham.
Hellenic League Corsham had fought through from the first qualifying round in August winning four penalty shoot-outs along the way, but their luck finally ran out when Ascot keeper Rhys Forster and the crossbar denied them – with McCormack keeping his composure when it mattered most in sudden death.
The hosts were strong in the early stages, with Kane Simpson and Dan Demkiv testing Forster, who began nervously.
It was deep into the first half before Ascot broke out of the home side’s shackles with McCormack finding room to explore the right flank. Harry Grant brought a fine save out of home keeper Sam Jepson on the half hour, meanwhile, but he could do little five minutes later as Grant’s through-ball saw Matthews accelerate past the hosts’ backline and drill home the opener with skill and precision.
Ascot were on a roll and McCormack soon found Matthew again, but his volley brought a tremendous save out of a suddenly overworked Jepson.
Ryan Bath was introduced at the break and his Corsham side went close to levelling, but Dan Bailey somehow denied them twice in the same move.
From the resulting corner, though, James Rusby flicked the ball in at the near post to equalise and ratchet up the tension.
By now Bath was proving a handful and Forster was twice made extremely uncomfortable before coming through with flying colours – only to be beaten after 67 minutes when Sean Keet unleashed a screamer from 25 yards after a corner wasn’t cleared. Suddenly Corsham dared to dream.
Ascot threw on Marcus Mealing and Kai Walters and soon the former fed Matthews, whose pace was enough to beat Jepson to the ball and square for Rob Gerrard to bundle in to make it 2-2. With both sides going for broke, Jon Davies was inches away from winning it for Corsham, but referee Danny Middleton blew for time and it was left to Forster and fate to send Ascot to Wembley where they will face a returning Newport Pagnell Town.
Delighted Yellamen assistant manager Dan Masters could not be pushed into naming his man of the match afterwards, declaring: “It was too difficult to pick. We defended superbly on a difficult surface against a very strong side.
“We were well organised and dealt with their set pieces and were quicker to the second ball. We had the heart and desire to not get beaten today.”