Despite a dominating performance from Hayes & Yeading United in this FA Youth Cup tie, extra time was required when Ashford found an equaliser in the seventh minute of stoppage time.
This was always going to be a tough test for United against an Ashford side who last tasted defeat in March, and so it proved as United’s dominance of possession was matched by the resilience of the Ashford defence.
It all started so well though for United and with just 13 minutes played Jake Lovell sent over a cross from the right that Frenchman Brice Boyer rose to powerfully head beyond Dane Buss in the visitors goal.
Ten minutes later Ashford had their first attempt at goal when Reece Fleary partially cleared a long throw to the impressive Jimmy Stanford but his 20 yard drive was inches over Simon Grant’s crossbar. United were soon back in the driving seat though, Andrew and Ashley Barnes combining to feed Nathan Webb whose deep cross was headed just wide of the target by Jake Lovell. Lovell was then denied by a well timed Luke Roberts block as he turned on a sixpence in the area and sadly this was to be his last involvement in the game. Just a minute later a tackle from behind on Ryan Bona saw the Ashford player kick out at Lovell. Referee Mr Pusey duly produced a red card for the retaliation and while most expected a yellow for the tackle, the young striker was aghast when his card also, was red.
Both sides re-shuffled positionally and it was United that continued to create chances. Charlie Wassmer met a corner from Barnes but saw his effort go over off of Guy Hollis and in the last minute of the half Daniel Wishart raced ahead 30 yards before dragging his shot wide of the far post from just inside the area.
The visitors could have hit back five minutes into the second half when a long ball from the back found George Baldock, he outpaced James King but his shot was both weak and wide of Grant’s goal.
It was back to the familiar pattern then of United looking for the elusive second goal. Andrew saw a shot well blocked by Tom Butler before Wishart curled a free-kick past the ball and agonisingly wide of the post. The closest effort since the goal came in the 71st minute when Boyer won the ball and played it left to Wishart who cut inside and fired across Buss only to see his shot come back into play off the inside of the post.
By now we were deep into stoppage time and the ever running Andrew had two chances to sow up the tie. His almost identical efforts drew the same result as on each occasion the shot was pushed away by the diving Buss in the Ashford goal. And then the unthinkable happened, Ashford were awarded a free-kick some 30 yards from goal, Stanford’s powerful strike was saved by Grant who let the ball slip from his grasp and Baldock nipped in to equalise from a yard to take the game into extra time.
The visitors started quicker in extra time and Grant showed good hands to save another long range free-kick from Stanford before United’s wide men again started to dominate. A long ball to substitute Mark Goodman saw the winger advance and find Boyer in the box, he neatly took the ball past Butler but could not keep his shot down.
Two minutes later with a massive touch of fortune United regained the lead. Reece Fleary picked up a loose ball on the left and fired a waist high cross that Ashford’s Tom Betts sliced into the air and past his own keeper who had no chance.
Ashford’s best chance of taking the game to penalties came with four minutes remaining as a long punt upfield caught the United defence square and allowed Baldock to go through, as Grant came out the striker touched the ball past him but failed to hit the target and it was United who progressed to the 1st round proper of this years FA Youth Cup.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Website United Man of the Match: Josh Andrew.