Ascot United FA Vase hero Bennett is living the dreamBy Lewis Rudd
February 21, 2013
Jon Bennett is enjoying his “favourite week in football” after the striker’s brace booked Ascot United a place in the quarter-finals of the FA Vase following Tuesday night’s 2-1 win over Newport.
The club’s history book was once again ripped up after the fifth-round replay victory against the Sydenhams Wessex League outfit secured United a place in the last eight of the competition and another venture into uncharted waters.
Bennett, who revealed after the win how he was only handed a starting place after team-mate Dave Hoar pulled out of the squad through injury, followed up his 95th minute strike in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with the Islanders with a goal in either half as Ascot disposed of their opponents at the second attempt.
Speaking after the game, the goalscorer declared: “I’m ecstatic, this is probably my favourite week in football – ever.
To get the equaliser on Saturday and the goals (on Tuesday) I’m very happy.
“I'm disappointed I didn't get the hat-trick, but I suppose you cannot be too picky.”
He added: “My favourite goal ever has to be the one on Saturday because of the celebration and what it meant to everyone here.
“Tuesday was just as important, and if someone said I was going to get two goals to take the club to the quarter-finals I would have taken their hands off.”
Fresh from his stoppage-time strike at the weekend, Bennett opened the scoring on Tuesday three minutes before half-time when he chased a hopeful ball over the top and coolly finishing below Newport keeper Gary Streeter.
He doubled the advantage following a fine counter-attacking move in the 72nd minute when he tapped home substitute Rob Gier’s low centre from close range.
Alex Przspoleski replied for the visitors 13 minutes from time to set up a nervy finish.
However, United comfortably held out to book a trip to County Durham side AFC Shildon in round six on Saturday, March 2.
Bennett spurned two glorious chances to complete the hat-trick, misses he put down to complacency and tiredness.
However, he is just delighted to be back in the starting line-up – even if it did come at the expense of an injured team mate.
“I was a little bit upset at not being involved on Saturday to say the least, but I came on and kept doing what I’m doing and got the equaliser,” added Bennett.
“I wasn’t going to start (on Tuesday), but Dave Hoar pulled out injured, but I have come in and done my job.
“I have been struggling with injury and not really hit form this season.
“It has just been at the turn of the year where I have been finding it, started feeling comfortable and scoring goals again.
“I scored the equaliser on Saturday and on Tuesday I carried that on and got the two goals.
“I just want to push on from here.
“I'm feeling fit and feeling like I am going to score every time I play.”
While the trip presents another lengthy away day for United, the 250-mile venture to the north east also throws up something of a logistical headache for Bennett, as he is due to go on holiday the next day.
“I booked a holiday two months ago, but made sure I booked it after the quarter-final just in case we got there.
“I wasn’t expecting us to get there, but it is a nice problem to have and I’m glad I did make it.”
Bennett was part of the Ascot squad involved in the FA Cup extra-qualifying round tie against Wembley last season, which attracted a crowd of some 1,200 people to the Racecourse Ground and a potential worldwide audience of 700 million watching the game screened on Facebook.
However, his efforts in front of the 474 who flocked to the game on Saturday and the 359 who attended the replay holds special memories for the matchwinner.
“That was quite an artificial crowd (against Wembley) and people were coming here more for the occasion, but Saturday and Tuesday it was people generally getting behind us and supporting us all the way.
“The noise for the equaliser on Saturday was unbelievable and I have never been involved in anything like it.
“If I could relive that again I would.”
To view pictures from both fifth round matches, click on the gallery link to the right.