CORSHAM Town lost 5-4 on penalties to Ascot United in the semi-final of the FA Vase at the Southbank on Saturday.

In a game that looked like it might not even go ahead due to the sheer amount of rain that had fallen in the days prior, Corsham made the far better start but were pegged back by half-time as Brendon Matthew struck midway through.

The Quarrymen turned the game on its head after the break through James Rusby and Sean Keet, but the hosts were unable to hold on after Rob Gerrard poked in 10 minutes from time.

An action-packed penalty shoot-out turned this way and that, but after seven efforts apiece, Sean McCormick buried his shot down the middle to send Ascot to Wembley.

It was a predictably scrappy start at the Southbank, but hosts Corsham enjoyed the better of the early chances.

New signing, Jon Davies turned down options to lay the ball off and instead went for goal, but his low effort was turned around the post by Rhys Forster in the 10th minute.

Moments later, though, Corsham should have taken the lead anyway after a horrible mistake from Forster. Kane Simpson stole the ball off the 'keeper's toes and went to slot into an empty net, only for the stopper to scramble back and whip the ball away from the Corsham striker.

Simpson had another chance to make up for his miss midway through the first half, but once again Forster awkwardly turned a near-post volley wide.

Following a hectic first 20 minutes, Ascot settled into the game and began showing their undoubted quality. The first of several excellent Sam Jepson saves arrived in the 26th minute after Harry Grant powered a header at goal, only to see it kept out.

Jepson was powerless to prevent the opening goal in the 34th minute, however. There were hearty claims for offside from the crowd as a long ball over the top picked out Matthew, but the linesman kept his flag down and the Ascot striker found the net one-on-one under severe pressure.

The final action of the first half saw Jepson produce heroics once more. A period of Ascot pressure saw McCormick chip a cross into the middle, and Matthew thumped a volley at goal. But Jepson reacted like a cat to claw the ball out.

Corsham were extremely grateful their stopper intervened as, five minutes into the second half, the Quarrymen equalised. Ascot had not long before twice cleared off the line, but from the resulting corner, Rusby poked in off the post from Davies’ delivery to level the score.

Ascot were a yellow-shirted touch away from nudging in front after a hugely-long throw looped over the head of Jepson after the hour mark, but a Corsham shirt was back to clear off the line nevertheless – even though a goal kick would have been awarded had the ball found its way in without a touch.

A little more than 20 minutes from time, Corsham took the lead. A deep cross arrived from the left which Forster fumbled to the floor. As the ball rolled out to the edge of the box, Keet will have screamed his own name as he ran onto it and leathered the ball past the crowd of bodies into the net.

Keet’s effort was not enough to win the game for the Quarrymen, though, as Ascot hauled themselves level once again around 10 minutes from time. Substitute Marcus Meeling fed Matthew through down the right side of the box. He beat Jepson to the ball and nudged the ball goalwards, only for Gerrard to bundle the ball over the line.

Neither team wanted to lose the game as time wound down, and as a result chances were at a premium inside the final 10 minutes. Davies could have won the game with the last kick, but his shot on the turn dribbled narrowly wide.

Last-minute Corsham substitute Chris Allen and United’s Harry Grant scored their side’s first penalty, only for the goalkeepers to become the hero for the respective second efforts.

After a string of successful spot-kicks moved the score onto 4-4 after five each, Keet hit the post for Corsham. With a chance to send his team to Wembley, Gerrard shanked his left-footed penalty off the apex of bar and post.

Ascot were not to be denied, though, as Simpson saw a tame spot-kick down the middle easily kept out by Forster, and McCormick slammed his effort down the middle to send Ascot onward.

CTFC starting XI: Sam Jepson, Matt Swan, Leon Greenland, Mark Cooper (c), Sean Keet, Jon Davies, Nathan Davis, Kane Simpson, Rob Hobbs, Dan Demkiv, James Rusby.

CTFC substitutes: Chris Allen, Brandon Mundy, Joel Smedly, Seb Tylek, Ryan Bath, Alex Hallett, George Peare.

AUFC starting XI: Rhys Forster, George Lock, Rob Gerrard, Harry Tucker, Alfie Grant, Dan Bailey (c), Sean McMormack, Harry Grant, Brendon Matthew, Sam Balogun, Chris Ellis.

AUFC substitutes: Marcus Mealing, Luke Phillips, Sam Negus, Kai Walters, Keaton August, Louis Bowers, Cameron Gray.

Referee: Danny Middleton

Attendance: 1,200