LONG-SERVING Ascot United striker Jon Bennett has received the full support of his former team-mates and manager following his move to Southern League Marlow FC last week.

Bennett, 28, has been at Ascot since he was nine years old but felt the time was right to move on from his boyhood club.

And while it is a blow, everyone at Ascot wishes Bennett well at his new club, including manager Jeff Lamb.

“He’s a big part of what Paul [McGrotty, assistant manager] and I started with three years ago. I’m really disappointed but at the same time I’m really pleased for Jon,” he said.

“He was going a little bit stale and that can happen when you’ve been at a club for so long.

“We will miss him but I’m genuinely pleased he’s made the step up.

“Losing JB is a blow, he’s difficult to replace but I’m hoping we’ve got enough.” Bennett has spent his whole career at Ascot, including all seven years that Ascot have been in the Hellenic League.

After rejecting an offer from Marlow last year because they were in Ascot’s division, Bennett found it too good to turn down the Southern League side this time round.

He enjoyed a dream debut on Saturday as he bagged four goals in a 6-0 win over Potters Bar Town.

He said: “I really wanted to test myself at the next level. It was the right time to move on.

“I’ve been at Ascot since I was nine years old and have played in the Hellenic League all my life.

He admits he was getting ‘too comfortable’ and wanted to push himself in a higher league.

“I think Jeff and Paul understood,” he added. “They were both supportive of me going.

“No doubt I will be back at Ascot at some point.” Bennett played 191 league games for Ascot and scored 128 goals - but none so vital as in last season’s FA Vase, as he explains. “The equaliser against Newport Isle of Wight in the 95th minute that kept us in it -that was my favourite goal out of all the ones I’ve scored,” he said.

Bennett came on as a substitute in the FA Vase fifth round clash and scored the most dramatic of equalisers to take the game into extra-time.

He is equally proud of both his goals in the replay that fired Ascot into the quarter-finals of the Vase, which they eventually lost in a replay to Shildon.

However, Bennett believes the Yellamen still have a potent strike force in Matt Jones, Jermaine Roache and new signing Leon Yarnie.

And that was clearly evident on Saturday when Jones and Yarnie each scored hat-tricks in the 7-1 hammering of Newbury in the Hellenic Challenge Cup.

Yarnie, 28, was a free agent who has played for Marlow, Uxbridge and Hampton & Richmond.

Lamb said: “He gets other people on the scoresheet and brings something different to the team.” Winger Aaron Kubuye has also signed from Waltham & Hersham.

Yarnie opened the scoring after 26 minutes and Jones doubled the advantage a minute later before Rob Saunders made it 3-0 with a great strike just before half time.

Yarnie scored from the penalty spot and then completed his hat-trick after 75 minutes.

Not to be outdone, Jones scored twice in the last 10 minutes to make it 7-0, the last of which was a good team goal that particularly impressed Lamb.

Alex Oakman netted Newbury’s consolation with a minute remaining. Ascot have one of the biggest youth setups in the country and while that has beared fruit over the years, it is particularly evident now.

Five of Saturday’s squad came through the ranks, including Luke Neville and Jonny Denton, and nine were under the age of 21.

The Yellamen travel to Shrivenham on Saturday (3pm) without the services of Joe Yeates, who is working, and Rob Gier, who is on internationl duty with the Philippines.