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FOOTBALL: Howkins slams double to cap Ardley revival
10:00am Thursday 31st October 2013 in Sport
Steve Howkins scored a second-half-equaliser as Ardley United fought back from two goals down to claim a 2-2 draw at the Playing Field on Tuesday.
The result saw Kevin Brock’s side slip to third in the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division table, two behind leaders Reading Town, but with four games in hand.
After a cagey opening, Ascot broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute.
A slip by Kelvin McIntosh allowed Jermaine Roche to break through, but the ball was cleared off the line.
However, Roche headed home the resulting corner past Jack Harding at his near post.
And it got worse for the hosts four minutes later, when Ascot doubled their lead.
And it was that man Roche again. Receiving the ball in midfield, he curled a superb shot into the far corner of the net.
Ardley began to pose more of a threat in the last 15 minutes of the half and less than a minute after the break they clawed a goal back.
Dean Smith’s long ball forward found Stuart Bridges who headed past a helpless Chris Grace in the Ascot goal.
Ardley kept up the high tempo and later levelled.
Jon Gardner burst down the left before cutting the ball back for Howkins to fire in at the near post.
Both sides then went in search of a winner, but had to be content with a share of the spoils.
Late on, Ascot were redu-ced to ten men when David Hancock was sent off.
On Saturday, Ardley had climbed to second place with a 4-0 thrashing of basement boys Abingdon United, thanks to a Howkins double.
Ardley struggled to make the breakthrough and it was not until the half-hour that they went ahead.
A corner from the right found Howkins at the far post and his header back across the goal eluded everyone and went straight into the back of the net.
On 35 minutes it was 2-0 when Callum Convey’s thro-ugh ball was met by Ryan Brooks who slotted home his 23rd goal of the campaign with a clinical finish.
Ardley kept up the pressure and two minutes into the second half, bagged their third goal of the contest.
Howkins’s free-kick rebou-nded off Abingdon’s defensive wall, but fortunately it went straight to Ben Thomas who headed home.
The rout was completed eight minutes from time when a cross from Brooks was laid off by Troy Bryan for How-kins to complete his brace with a clinical finish.
On Saturday, Ardley will be looking to close the gap on leaders Reading when they travel to 15th-placed Wootton Bassett Town.