A solitary goal from full back Alex Fisher was enough to secure all three points for the Tangerines on Saturday against visitors Aylesbury.
It is fair to say, on this occasion, that the scoreline did not reflect the overall possession as Ashford were almost totally dominant in the first half, spurning chance after chance, although mention must be made of the Aylesbury keeper who pulled off some incredible saves, including a penalty hit by Mark Bitmead, which he somehow kept out despite the effort being low and down by the post.
One wondered if Ashford would come to rue all the missed opportunities in the first half and the match was certainly more even in the second, but Aylesbury rarely looked as if they would make the breakthrough and the only goal arrived on 77 minutes when Bitmead was adjudged to have been fouled some ten yards outside the penalty area. Fisher stepped up and for once the keeper was beaten as the effort went low into the net.
The final period of the match saw Aylesbury having their best period but the efforts were somewhat frantic and Ashford safely saw the match out to leave them tucked in nicely at this early stage in 4th place.
The second match of the Bank Holiday programme sees Ashford back at neighbours Egham this Bank Holiday Monday afternoon. Egham enjoyed a superb season last time round, coming so close to promotion and Ashford will expect a very tough match. It did not seem though that there were any fresh injuries picked up on Saturday and with the exception of Bayley Mummery on holiday and possibly Russell Canderton, who was nursing a strain, there should be a full squad to pick from.
The club is aware that the surface at Short Lane, whilst perfectly playable, has not reached the heights of last season which saw the pitch receiving a highly commended award in the National FA competition. We are making efforts to understand why this is the case and we will hopefully be able to provide further information later this week. Also, the new kit, so kindly sponsored by Hitchcock and King, is now due to arrive in midweek, just in time for the FA Cup match at Herne Bay next Saturday. Please remember that if you wish to travel on the coach, you need to put your name on the list in the clubhouse, as if it is not financially viable, we will not be able to run one.
Ashford resume their Evostik League campaign on Saturday with a home match against Aylesbury FC. League tables don’t mean too much still, at this early stage but our opponents will arrive in 13th position, having won one, drawn one and lost two so far.
There have been nine previous matches between our clubs, all in the Southern League including a League Cup tie. Honours are even with both clubs having won three each, although our last victory was back in September 2011, when we managed a 4-1 scoreline, thanks to goals from Ashley Lodge, Scott Weight, Mark Bitmead and Dan Brown. The other side of the coin shows a 0-5 deficit at Aylesbury in September 2013 when we played rather badly, as the score suggests.
One player to have played for both clubs is Adam Logie, who never gave anything but his best for the Tamgerines in the 120 matches in which he featured.
On Monday afternoon (kick-off 3.00 p.m.) we make the short trip to Egham Town for a very local derby. Again it will be good to renew rivalry with our neighbours who looked last season at one point that they were guaranteed for further promotion but just lost out in the play-offs.
The Under-18’s under new manager Mark Oliver got their season going on Wednesday evening with a very creditable draw against Staines Town, with both sides scoring four goals. Ours came from Lewis Haldane (2), Robbie Joseph (pen) and Isaac Mplana. It was a strange game in some respects in that after five minutes, with lightning raging overhead, the floodlights went out,, no doubt due to the electrical conditions and it took some time for them to come back on with play resuming at 8.18 p.m.
Ashford roared into a two goal lead, both from Lewis, but Staines pulled one back just before half-time and quickly equalised after the break. Ashford then had their backs against the wall for long periods and it was no surprise when Staines went ahead. The Tangerines rallied and after being denied what looked a stone bonker penalty, they were then awarded one for apparent handball. Robbie made no mistake and when Isaac coolly put us ahead with less than five to go, it looked as if we would win. As always though, Staines are invariably decent at this level and they pulled one back right at the death, leaving the match deadlocked at four apiece.
The draw for the Middlesex Charity Cup has been released today and Ashford will be away to Southall in the 1st Round. Southall ground share at Hanwell Town so nobody will be too disappointed about a return to Reynolds Field, if the pitch remains in the same condition as when we played there last week.
There is clearly some embargo upon us receiving home draws in any competition at the moment as, were we to beat Southall, we would be away to North Greenford United in the 2nd Round, who are also our opponents in the Senior Cup where we have a rare home draw.