Ascot United manager Jamie Tompkins has his side firing in the Combined Counties League Premier Division North with the Yellamen on a run of eight wins in a row and in to the final of the Berks & Bucks FA County Cup with a possible matchup against Wycombe Wanderers, Reading FC or MK Dons to be confirmed.
The Yellamen have long looked like a side capable of promotion to Step 4 following in the footsteps recently of Binfield and Bracknell Town, but a mid-season bump slowed that progress and has seen Hounslow side Hanworth Villa take a seemingly unassailable lead at the top of the table.
For now, Tompkins is focused on being part of the promotion conversation and helping his side recover from the loss of two key players in Jonny Denton to Binfield and top-goalscorer Harry Laflin to Guildford City.
Speaking to Football in Berkshire prior to Tuesday night’s Berkshire derby with Holyport at the Racecourse, Tompkins said: “We’ve won eight in a row now, a run that stretches back to the 27th December when we lost to Reading City. Simon Johnson got his team up for that game, from what I heard [both Tompkins and assistant Dan Masters weren’t at the game] they deserved it but we’ve been significantly better since.
“The level of effort recently has been outstanding from the lads. They are in some respects managing themselves at the moment, such is their commitment and that is a great thing for a manager.”
The Yellamen have impressed in the County Cup, beating step 4 opposition in Didcot Town and Thatcham Town, something which has spurred the boss on: “Didcot put out their strongest side, I know they tried a couple of different things, but it was a good result against a strong side in a division above. Thatcham had a couple of forwards out but these are teams we aspire to be and to compete with every week in the near future.
“We’re excited for the semi-final draw which I think is on Thursday at 1 pm, We’re hoping obviously for a home draw and Wycombe Wanderers would be my pick. The crowd they brought to Long Crendon in the previous round was huge and we’d love that at the Racecourse Ground.”
On losing Jonny Denton and Harry Laflin..
“Losing Jonny Denton and Harry Laflin certainly hurts. They were great servants to the club, Jonny played over 200 games and Harry got over 80 goals for us. They were two very important players but they’ve left for different reasons.
“The team has reacted positively though, the loss has brought them closer together in some ways and importantly, we’ve backed all this up with two wins since Harry and Jonny left.
“We’ve got two new signings due to be announced on Tuesday which I know will help us plug those gaps. Both are well-known players to Ascot and I’m glad to be able to bring them back.
“Yeah it hurt, but we’re still strong, we’re moving on and the team will push on.”
Promotion is still Ascot United’s aim
“We want to be part of the promotion conversation,” says Tompkins.
“We had a poor run of form in October and November which knocked us but now we’re back in the conversation for second spot. Of course, we want promotion at the club and we’re still chasing that, but we’re not under any pressure, Hanworth Villa will win the league and we’ll have to rely on others dropping points a little but those teams around us are starting to do that.
“A win tonight against Holyport will put us third with games in hand but don’t write off Holyport. They are scrapping for every point at the other end and it’ll be tough for us.
“If we win it’s nine in a row and equals a club record which we’ll then be looking to beat on Saturday at home to Virginia Water.”
A full list of the midweek fixtures across Berkshire are here.