A late flurry of goals put holders Hayes & Yeading United through to an away tie with Tokyngton Manor at the expense of Ashford Town (Middlesex). But the match, which was a repeat of last year’s final, was a lot closer and more competitive than the scoreline suggests.
There was a slow start to the game but Hayes & Yeading United got the first effort on goal when Joakim Ehui crossed for George Isaac at the back post but his tame volley was easily gathered in by Dane Buss in the Ashford goal.
Ashford playmaker Mark Bitmead was in a creative mood and his accurate cross was met by Joe Fleming’s chest but the ball ran out of his control and wide of the post.
Daniel Wishart hit the bar after turning on a Nathan Webb throughball but Ashford had a great chance soon afterwards to take the lead when Reece Fleary tackled Bitmead from behind in the penalty area and caught him, leading to a spot kick. Rob Curtis took responsibility but despite sending Alex Tokarczyk the wrong way, his effort went wide of the left hand post.
Bitmead shot just over and then straight at Tokarczyk from a free kick as Ashford sought to make amends while at the other end, Wishart did well to get a cross in from the right but Isaac’s glancing header was off target. Also, a United corner was half cleared by Curtis and although Dean Worman couldn’t get the ball under control, Leo Cunningham strode out of defence and fired in a shot from fully 40 yards which tested Buss’s handling.
Just before half time, a weak Lewis Wombwell shot was comfortably held by the diving Tokarczyk after a neat throughball by Fleming.
The second half started in a lively manner. Wishart cut the ball back for Ehui but Buss was able to push his rising shot away. Then Ashford broke and Bitmead’s goalbound shot was deflected wide by Nathan Webb. From the resulting corner, the same player turned a shot goalwards but Tokarczyk was able to catch it comfortably.
Play then hit a lull although Tom Betts went close for Ashford and following a well worked free kick from Webb, Curtis was able to divert a Wishart long shot over the bar.
As it looked like the game was going to drift into extra time, a fine United move opened the Ashford defence up. Substitute Josh Christopher picked out Wishart on the right hand side with a long raking pass and Wishart’s cross was just high enough to evade Joe Green and find Isaac in space. He chested the ball down before tucking it past Buss and just inside the far post.
A minute later, Ashford came close to an equaliser, but Wombwell was just wide with a shot from the edge of the area. However, soon afterwards, United got a second goal to clinch the game. Substitute Monssio Herman slid the ball through to Wishart who beat the offside trap and dinked the ball over the approaching Buss and into the net behind him.
In the closing stages, Dean Worman had a shot deflected onto the post by Bairo Conthey, but United were to add to their lead with virtually the last kick of the game as a long Tokarczyk clearance bounced behind the Ashford defence and Wishart raced onto it, rounded Buss and calmly placed the ball into the empty net.
Report by Nick Bell. Photos by Ray Peploe.
United Man of the Match: Leo Cunningham.