v Ascot United (H), 24 February 2018

MATCH REPORT

UHLSPORT HELLENIC LEAGUE, PREMIER DIVISION

TUFFLEY ROVERS 2-1 ASCOT UNITED

Despite playing almost 50 minutes with ten men, Tuffley Rovers made it three league wins in a row, as they recovered from going a goal down to defeat Ascot United 2-1.

Rovers’ boss, Mark Pritchett, was forced into one change from the side that had beaten Oxford City Nomads seven days earlier, as the suspended Brett James was replaced by Ashley Bird in attack. The otherwise unchanged line-up saw Cam Williams retain his place in midfield, for only his fifth start of the season, following an impressive performance at Nomads.

The two sides had come into the game in relatively good form – Ascot’s ‘Yellamen’ boasting wins in their last three competitive ties – and it was probably no surprise to see both demonstrating an attacking intent in the early stages of the game.

Ascot United’s James Goodey looked lively early on and he had the first chance of note, firing narrowly wide from 12 yards, before Dominic Sullivan got the first shot on target, which was comfortably saved by Dave Evans in the Rovers’ goal.

Shayne Bradley had Rovers’ first chance on goal, which was beaten away by a solid defensive block and the veteran Rovers forward was perhaps fortunate to only see a yellow card, following a robust tackle on Ascot’s Louis Bouwers.

The visitors were finding their feet, applying increasing pressure and although Evans wasn’t seriously tested, they eventually took the lead, after 22 minutes. When Sullivan met a cross from Ryan Cooper, his header looked to be heading goalwards, although it took a significant deflection of Kieran Alder, wrong-footing Evans, before nestling into the back of the net.

Ben Hodges was next to have an effort on goal, without success, and Rovers were struggling to impose themselves on the game, as Ascot showed good organisation to keep the hosts at bay.

James Richardson was the next to draw a save from Evans, on 33 minutes, but six minutes later the game took a significant turn, as Rovers were reduced to ten men.

Courtney Hamilton had been in combative mood throughout the half and when he challenged for the ball, Cooper fell to the floor holding his face. Referee Spencer McNaught had no hesitation in issuing a red-card to the Rovers midfielder, who left the field in disconsolate mood, after protesting his innocence.

Goodey almost immediately had a chance to compound Rovers’ misery, but fired wide from 20 yards, and Rovers took advantage two minutes later. Warren Mann drew a foul 25 yards from goal and Bradley took the most of the opportunity, stepping up to curl the ball over the top of the Ascot wall and into the top corner of Tim Amouri’s net, to make it 1-1, a scoreline that remained until the half-time interval arrived minutes later.

Whatever Pritchett had said at half-time appeared to have worked, as Rovers came out for the second period looking anything but a side a man light, and Alder shot narrowly wide, four minutes into the half, after being set up by Bradley.

Jonny Denton had the first chance for Ascot in the second period, when he fired a free-kick straight at Dave Evans, and the impressive Goodey was next to try his luck, but he shot well wide when well placed 20 yards out, on 57 minutes and then he had a further effort, three minutes later, which once again went wide of the goal.

Having maintained parity with The Yellamen, Rovers were increasingly influential in the game, eventually getting reward for their efforts, in what proved the decisive moment.

Shayne Anson did well to carry the ball out from defence and when he fed the ball out to Bird, the Rovers forward looked set to cross, with Bradley and Mann waiting in the box. However, the young forward’s cross was fortuitously misdirected and looped beyond Amouri and into the corner of the Ascot net, to make it 2-1 to Pritchett’s men.

Substitute Ross Seldon had a another effort that Evans saved, before Goodey drew two excellent saves from Evans, as the visitors looked to rescue a point. Their efforts were to be in vain, as the hosts held out to triumph and take three points that saw them move up to ninth in the Uhlsport Hellenic League, Premier Division table.