Corinthian 2-1 Ascot United - It's such a good competition everyone's got half a chance of making it to Wembley, says Corinthian manager Michael Golding

Saturday 30th November 2019
Corinthian 2 – 1 Ascot United
Location Gay Dawn Farm, Valley Road, Longfield, Kent DA3 8LY
Kickoff 30/11/2019 15:00

The Buildbase FA Vase Third Round
Saturday 30 November 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Gay Dawn Farm

CORINTHIAN manager Michael Golding says his players gave him everything to reach the Last 32 of The FA Vase for the third time in their history.

Jamie Tompkins’ side arrived at Gay Dawn Farm sitting at the top of the Combined Counties League Premier Division table with 34 points from 16 games, three points clear of Colliers Wood United, who have a game in hand on the Berkshire side.

Ascot United have beaten Fleet Town (3-1 away after a 3-3 home draw after extra time); Frimley Green (3-0); Sporting Club Thamesmead (5-1) and Abbey Rangers (7-0 at home after a 2-2 after extra time draw ) to reach this stage but they put in a disappointing performance in the Kent countryside.

Corinthian went into this Third Round tie sitting in third-place in the Sea Pioneer Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table with 31 points from 17 games and beat their league rivals Sheppey United and last season’s semi-finalists Canterbury City by two goals to nil.

Corinthian settled their nerves by scoring an early lead through central midfielder Oscar Housego’s ninth goal of the season before Ascot United equalised through striker Ian Davies’ 16th goal of the campaign.

Corinthian sealed the victory nine minutes before half-time through an own goal from visiting goalkeeper Sam Gray, therefore denying Jack Mahoney scoring from a 25-yard free-kick.

“Really pleased with the boys today,” said Golding, who has extended his winning streak to 12 of his last 13 games.

“I don’t think it was the prettiest game but I thought we worked hard.  I thought we probably could have been a little bit more clinical when we had a few breakaways in the first half, probably Luke Tanner’s chance towards the end of the game could’ve made it a little bit more comfortable.

“But they’re a good side and we said to the boys it’s all about getting into the next round and staying in the hat, which we’ve done so I’m really pleased with the boys today.

“We said we were underdogs today, which we are, they’re flying in their league and their away form is tremendous but we’ve done our homework and we’ve been and watched them.

“To go and put that performance on - and they’re a good side and they’re not top of the league for no reasons, they are a decent side - so for us to win today is big for the boys. They gave us everything but we expected that.  That’s 12 wins out of 13 now.”

Corinthian took the lead with the first real chance of the game with only seven minutes and 47 seconds on the clock.

Centre-half Jack Bath played the ball into Andres Felipe Losada Tobon’s feet and he fed left-back James Trueman, who skipped past Ascot’s right-back Ethan Burden before cutting into the box and putting in a low cross, which was cleared out to Housego, who smacked a first time right-footed drive screaming past Gray into the right-hand corner from 15-yards.

“It was a good cut back from Jim Trueman. He’s been playing really well recently, he’s come in and he’s worked hard and he’s got that left-back slot his own at the moment,” said Golding.

“Oscar’s been in good form this season. He’s got good goals, he’s got a very good amount of assists already and to see Oscar breaking on the edge of the box and you always back Oscar with his technique.

“I thought the goal was coming. We started well today, we got on the front foot and asked them the questions and we had a couple of breakaways and a couple of chances when we were running at their back four so you’re always delighted.  It just settles the nerves a little bit and I’m pleased to take an early lead.”

Ascot United created a good opening in the 13th minute when Burden reached the by-line and whipped in a superb low cross which forced goalkeeper Aiden Prall to get down low to his right to push into the path of winger Luqman Kassim, whose shot was blocked on the edge of the six-yard box.

“Their front three are good and they’re probably expecting to score from there in all honesty but there wasn’t too many times – I know they’ve hit the post and bar in the second half in quick succession – but there wasn’t too many times when they threatened us and we felt under great pressure. Their front three would get into most SCEFL sides.”

Corinthian went close to doubling their lead when Mahoney fed Tobon, who drove in a great cross from within the left channel and the ball came out to Housego, who drilled his right-footed shot just past the foot of the right-hand post, aided by a deflection, only for the officials to award Ascot United a goal-kick instead.

“It took a deflection, we thought it was a corner but the ref and the lino thought otherwise,” said Golding.

“But again the technique from Oscar, we get wide, we thought we could isolate them out wide and we could get at them and when he’s hit it and he’s hit it quite true, you’re hoping the ball’s going to nestle in the back of the net.”

Prall was called into making a comfortable save at his near post at the halfway point.

Nine-goal wide-man Usman Lalustani cut the ball back for Burden to whip in a first time cross, which wasn’t dealt with in the air and the ball dropped kindly for Kassim, who cut the ball onto his left-foot and driving his shot straight at the former Charlton Athletic keeper from 12-yards on the angle.

“Again, we expect Aiden to make those saves,” said Golding.

“Disappointed that the ball got there a couple of times. It broke down in our attacking third and they were good on their transitions and we knew that from watching them.  That was the information to the boys at training on Thursday that they’re good on their transitions.

“We could’ve done a little bit more to stop that from happening. The ball fell into pockets and their winger would get on it. In terms of the shot that’s what Aiden is there for, he’s a very good goalkeeper.”

Harry Laffin, who has scored 17-goals this season from his number 10 position, played the ball out to Lalustani on the right and he cut into the box before rolling the ball across the face of goal for Dawes to tap the ball into the back of the net from inside the six-yard box.

“He’s prolific, he’s scored a load of goals. He got a hat-trick when we went to watch them against Abbey Rangers,” said Golding.

“It’s a ball that’s gone all the way across the six-yard box. We’ve not picked up runners, we’ve not followed men and it’s just frustrating because it was probably preventable.

“Being ultra-critical, Jack Bath has got to meet the ball rather than just drop off and then from there Jack Mahoney, who was on a booking by that point so he couldn’t make a foul and we were scrambling to get back. 

“It’s really disappointing form our point of view because how well we’ve been defending recently and out clean sheets have been good so to concede was a bit frustrating!”

Corinthian right-back Alexander Jack Billings played the ball in from the channel into lone striker Luke Tanner, who teed up Tobon, who cracked his first time left-footed shot high over the crossbar from 22-yards.

Gray launched the resulting goal-kick up field and Laffin shrugged off the attentions of Mahoney some 35-yards from goal and tried to lob the ball over Prall, who was off his line but the goalkeeper made a comfortable catch in his midriff.

Corinthian claimed the victory with 35 minutes and 44 seconds on the clock – but the goal will go down as an own-goal and not holding midfielder Mahoney’s seventh of the season.

Tanner’s flicked pass was handled by Ascot United’s centre-half Fabian Etienne – who was booked by referee Luis Nunes.

Etienne was sin-binned deep into stoppage time at the end of the game for an incident by the corner flag when Corinthian were playing in the corners to kill time.

Housego and Mahoney were over the ball at the resulting set-piece and Gray had built a four-man wall in front of him.

Mahoney stroked his sublime left-footed 25-yard free-kick over the wall and the ball crashed against the underside of the crossbar before bouncing off keeper Gray and dropping over the goal-line.

“The boys are telling him it was an own-goal off the goalkeeper but I think you’re going to struggle to take that off Jack,” insisted Golding.

“But it was a great strike, great technique. All we ask the players from there is to hit the target!

“We’ve got Jack and Oscar standing over it keeping the goalkeeper true. I think we deserved to be ahead. It’s frustrating, we could’ve done a bit better in patches but to go 2-1 back up was important for us.”

Corinthian keeper Prall was called into diving action inside stoppage time when he dived to his right to push Laffin’s right-footed half-volley from 30-yards around his post, a good save considering the ball bounced right in front of him.

“It’s bobbled up right on Aiden. He did well just to push it around the corner,” said Golding.

“The pitch played well, it is a bit bobbly out there at the moment but we know their front three and their 10 in behind are all decent and they’ve all got goals in them. They’re very direct but I don’t think they had too much. They probably had one or two individual opportunities but we never really allowed them to get into their stride.”

Jonny Denton swung in Ascot’s fourth and final corner from the left and centre-half Louis Bouwers came up from the back to plant his near post header just past the near post from eight-yards before the referee blew for half-time.

Corinthian started the second half with 10 men as referee Luis Nunes put centre-half Jamie Billings in to the Sin-Bin so Golding was forced into a reshuffle.

Kameron Gyeabour slotted in at right-back; Alexander Jack Billings slotted in at centre-back alongside Bath, while Trueman remained at left-back.

“Right after the whistle something was said. Jamie Billings was saying he didn’t swear. It’s ill-discipline from us and it’s not good enough and we’ll deal with it,” insisted the Corinthian manager.

“It’s put the boys under the cosh for 10 minutes at the start of the second half when we knew they’re going to come out and throw a little bit at us and we had to have a complete reshuffle.  Kameron had to go at right-back and he did really well there. He’s worked hard and he’s waited his time and got back into the team and he’s been put in at right-back and he’s done a job.”

Golding added: “In terms of the half-time team-talk it was a bit of reshuffling and a bit of encouragement and just to keep doing the same things with a little bit more quality and can we work the ball out wide and get them defending because that’s where we felt we were going to have the most joy.”

Eight minutes into the half and Corinthian created an opening when Bath hit a long ball down the left channel which was chased by Tanner, who cut the ball back for Tobon, who curled his shot harmlessly wide of the far post from just outside the corner of the penalty area.

Ascot United should have equalised in the 56th minute when poor defending from stand-in Gyeabour opened the door.

Ascot captain Bouwers hit a long diagonal pass out of defence which should have been headed away by Gyeabour but he failed to do so and this let in Kassim.

Kassim was given the invitation to cut into the box and he opened his body up to try to curl his right-footed shot around the keeper into the bottom far corner, only for Prall to step to his left to make the catch.

“It was one of Aiden’s only save from memory in the second half when we changed formation that was the only time they got in behind full-backs and they’ve got quality so you’re expecting them to have something in particularly against 10 men.  I thought we handled the Sin-Bin spell quite well today,” added Golding.

You always need a slice of luck in Cup competitions and Corinthian played their get out of a jail card twice on the hour-mark.

Davies’ delicate pass some 35-yards from goal played Kassim in on goal down the left and he cut into the box and placed his left-footed angled shot across the diving keeper, who must have got fingertips to the ball to push it against the base of the far post.

The ball then rolled out to Denton, who drilled his left-footed shot against the crossbar from 25-yards, when a bit of composure when it mattered and a placed finish into the bottom corner, was needed.

“You’re exactly right, you need that little bit of luck in the Cup,” admitted Golding.

“Regardless how good you are or how well you play, you will need luck at some point on days like this. I’d rather be a lucky manager than a good one. That’s our slice of luck and we’ll certainly take that!

“It was probably a bit of a wake-up call for us. We probably dropped off. We just went back to 11 men and Jack Billings’ slipped, Kassim has gone in behind. Aiden has tipped it on to the post, which if he has it’s an unbelievable save and a very good strike and I’m more than happy with it hitting the bar and crashing out!”

Stirman ran the left-channel before he cut the ball back to the outstanding Housego, who ran onto the loose ball in a central position just outside the box and tried to bend his low shot around the goalkeeper, only for Gray to dive to his left to push the ball towards safety.

Golding said: “He had a few opportunities today when it got cut back to the edge of the area and that’s the one thing that Oscar has massively improved on in his game is taking shots on from outside of the area or in and around the areas where maybe before he wouldn’t have done so.  I don’t think he caught it quite right, which probably made it a little bit easier for the goalkeeper but it’s another shot on target.”

Ascot United wasted another decent opening inside the final 20 minutes when substitute midfielder Calum Ferguson floated in a free-kick from the left touchline, Corinthian failed to clear their lines inside their box and Davies found a pocket of space on the left and put the ball back in for Laffin to loop his speculative overhead kick over the crossbar from six-yards.

Ascot United enjoyed plenty of possession for the rest of the game but they didn’t have the quality to trouble Prall or get past a well-organised back four, with Bath and Jamie Billings slamming the door shut while sitting deep.

Golding said: “Not intentionally but I think subconsciously that happens in cup competitions. You get to the last 20-25 minutes and you naturally start dropping a little bit deeper. We’re on the sidelines trying to encourage them to move forwards.

“But I think that’s second nature for the boys to drop a little bit narrower and get a little bit tighter and to a degree we’ve earnt that and we don’t have to go out and start chasing the game. They’ve had to change formation to try to get back into the game, which probably in all honesty played back into our hands. It allowed us to get a foot hold into the game.”

The referee made a poor decision when Tobin came alive and skipped past Ascot’s left-back James Haworth before playing in Tanner, who had Bouwers standing in the way of an open goal but the centre-half clearly used his hand to make a brave block on the edge of the six-yard box, which should have resulted in a penalty.

“I think ultimately Tanner, he’s got to score. He’s got an open goal, well, he’s got one defender in front of him and he’s hit the defender so Tanner’s disappointed in that but on the other hand I thought Tanner was tremendous today,” said Golding.

“He hasn’t scored and it’s an absolute stonewall penalty. How the ref’s not given that one – it’s handball, it’s hit him on his hand and then he’s lying on the ball. It's 100% a penalty. I don’t know why he didn’t want to give penalties today?!”

Corinthian successfully eat up time, playing the ball into the corner on several occasions but they ran out winners after Ascot United failed to get the ball forward and exploit the five minutes and 6 seconds of time added on.

Chatham Town, Corinthian, Deal Town and Glebe are the four Kent sides in the Last 32 Draw on Monday lunchtime with Fourth Round ties taking place on Saturday 11 January 2020.

“It’s good for the club.  In 2017, we went and played Exmouth it’s good to get an away day, I know the boys want an away day wherever it might be but I want someone at home,” said Golding.

“I’ve already spoken to Steve King (the head coach at Deal Town), no doubt we’ll get Deal, home or away!

“We’ll fancy our chances whoever we get. We back ourselves that we’ve got a good enough team and a good enough squad but knowing realistically we will be underdogs in whoever we draw but we don’t want it to stop here. We want to carry on, we want to try to go one better. 

“The club have gone to the Fourth Round twice historically, once was with us, the Fifth Round once before (in 1987) so we want to try and equal that but we’re realistic.

“I love it, it’s such a good competition. Everyone’s got half a chance of making it to Wembley as we’ve shown last year with Canterbury City and Cray Valley doing really well and it just gives the boys that little bit of belief.

“We’ve played Sheppey and Canterbury so we just want to get somebody else.”

“We said to the boys last month we wanted to stay in the cup competitions and we’re still in three cup competitions, we’re still doing ok in the league, we’re still in that top little pack, which is what we wanted to do.”

Amateur club Corinthian have now banked £2,850 in prize money for their three wins in The FA Vase this season.

“It’s good for the club, they do a lot for us. It will go towards paying for brand new footballers, new tracksuits for the boys, Lucozade’s before the game, all the boring stuff that no one sees behind the scenes, which is really good for us,” said Golding.

“It’s nice for the boys to give something back. Ultimately we’re playing because we want to progress but the money going back into the club will be really nice so it's always pleasing to give something back to the club.”

The last question posed to Golding was ‘can you win it?’

“Absolutely! Why not?  We’re realistic, we know it’s going to be very hard but if we play to the levels we know we can and get that little bit of luck along the way, then there’s no reason.

“They’ve shown it last year with Canterbury (reaching the semi-finals, losing to Cray Valley) and Cray Valley (losing 3-1 after extra time to Chertsey Town at Wembley Stadium), good sides that we competed with last year and they’ve given the whole of the SCEFL an opportunity and when you’ve got four SCEFL sides going into the last 32 hopefully we all avoid each other, which would be nice, unlikely, but it will be nice.

“Listen, do we think we can win it? Yes! Let’s just wait and see what it brings.”

Corinthian: Aiden Prall, Alexander Jack Billings, James Trueman, Jack Mahoney, Jamie Billings, Jack Bath, Josh Stirman (Deereece Thompson 67), Oscar Housego, Luke Tanner, Kameron Gyeabour (Conor Johnson 56), Andres Felipe Losada Tobon (Jordan Campbell 86).
Subs: Luke Carey, George Snelling, Ryan Sawyer, Taylor Gable

Goals: Oscar Housego 8, Sam Gray 36 (own goal)

Booked: Jack Mahoney 45

Temporary Dismissal:  Jamie Billings 46

Ascot United: Sam Gray, Ethan Burden (George Lock 85), James Haworth, Elliot Carey, Louis Bouwers, Fabian Etienne, Luqman Kassim, Jonny Denton (Calum Ferguson 69), Ian Davies, Harry Laffin, Usman Lalustani (Aiden Higgs 69).
Subs: Jake Taylor, Jon Bennett, Ben Hodges, James Richardson

Goal: Ian Davies 24

Booked: Fabian Etienne 36

Temporary Dismissal: Fabian Etienne 90

Attendance: 75
Referee: Mr Luis Nunes (Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey)
Assistants: Mr Scott Hamilton (Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire) & Mr Kuba Bogucki (Balham, London SW17)