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After two successive victories on the road, Ashford are back at Short Lane on Saturday when the visitors will be Histon FC from Cambridgeshire, who will be playing at Short Lane for the first time ever.

We were made extremely welcome at Histon earlier in the season and will aim to reciprocate that tomorrow but it has not been a happy season for our visitors who sit on the edge of relegation, eight points behind Aylesbury the 3rd bottom club, with both having five matches left to play.  It is a bridge that could be crossed though and we are well aware that Histon will be fighting to avoid dropping into Step 5.

We have been in good form recently with three wins on the spin, two in the League and one against Ryman Premier opposition in the shape of Wingate & Finchley so an exciting match looks in prospect.

We had never previously met Histon at any level until this season when we managed to win at their ground by four goals to one.  After a shaky start when Histon could easily have scored more than once, we hit a purple patch which secured the result although our opponents came back at us strongly in the later stages without success.

We are at home again next Saturday, when Kempston Rovers will be the visitors.

Our opposition in the semi-final of the Middlesex Charity Cup is now down to two:  it will be either Spelthorne Sports or Hampton & Richmond Borough, who are playing each other this coming Wednesday at Spelthorne.  We have already arranged that, should Spelthorne win, we will play them here on Tuesday 11 April.  It won’t be that date if Hampton win, as they have a re-arranged match in the Middlesex Senior Cup that week against Hanworth Villa.

We wish the best of luck to our Under-13 side who are playing in their County Cup Final on Sunday morning against Hanwell U13 at Northwood FC, kick-off 10.30 a.m.  If you can get over to support the lads, they will be pleased to see you.  The address of the ground is Northwood Park, Chestnut Avenue, Northwood, HA6 1HR.

Finally we getting up a new Ashford 100 club up and running under the expert eye of Graham Felce.  It costs just £5 a month and we need to get the remaining numbers allocated as quickly as possible.  Please pick up a form from the clubhouse and let us have your first payment (cash or cheque or direct transfer or standing order) as soon as possible.  There are two big prizes to be won, in August and at Christmas plus monthly draws.

Here are this week’s junior fixtures:

Ashford Town 5 – 5 Pitch 2

Michael U7s v Twickenham 10am

Ashford Town 7 – 7 Pitch

Matt U10s v Molesey 11am

Ashford Town 9 – 9 Pitch

Kirk U11s v Kew Park Rangers 10am

Ashford Town – Outfield

Gary 10:30am

John U13s v Kew Park Rangers 12:30

Fin U14s v Ascot 2pm

Away Games

Chris U8s v Hampton Youth

Cass U8s v Moormead

Neil U8s v Woking Cougars

Steve U8s v Walton Casuals

Andy U9s v Esher Colts

Ryan U9s v Lyne

Paul U13s COUNTY CUP FINAL at Northwood (10.30 a.m.)

Conor U16s v Camberley (D/H)

 

Last week’s results were:

Michael U7s 2-5 Rocks Lane

Cass U8s 5-3 Hampton

Matt U9s 2-1 CB Hounslow

Dave U12s 0-6 Corinthian

Larry U13s 6-1 Whitton

John U13s 0-2 Motspur

Paul U13s 4-1 Sutton

Fin U14s 5-2 Carshalton

Martin U15s 6-3 Kew

Ben U16s 0-2 Met Police

Conor U16s 1-2 Wandgas

Simon U16s 0-3 Lyne 

 

Thanks to the efforts of Club Treasurer, Jason Brown, we once again have BT Sport at the Club.  New negotiations have allowed us to take it up again and we hope that all members will take advantage.

Ashford’s much improved performances of late continued on Saturday with a 2-1 victory at Beaconsfield SYCOB, the winning goal coming as late as the 5th minute of additional time

The winning run now sees the Tangerines into the top half of the table but it was a hard fought encounter played in terribly difficult windy conditions.  Ashford were without both the unavailable Dan Fleming and Samad Kazi, enabling Conor Moody to make his first start since returning to the club and he gave a good performance holding the ball up well.

The first half ended goalless and although Ashford had made more chances than their opponents, nobody had come too close to breaking the deadlock.  The second half was different as both teams seemed to get to grips, to an extent at least with the conditions. It was far from one-sided but Ashford were putting more pressure on and finally broke the deadlock on 59 minutes with arguably the best move of the match.  Max Herbert got on the ball from his left back spot and drilled a diagonal crossfield ball behind the Beaconsfield defence to  enable Mark Bitmead to get on the ball and he cut in and sent a low hard shot into the net that gave keeper no chance.

Ashford were looking for a second but it was the home side who equalised on 71 minutes from the spot when skipper Russell Canderton was adjudged to have fouled his opponent just inside the area for a somewhat soft penalty.  That didn’t worry Beaconsfield’s Charlie Lassaso  who drove home to put his side level.

Ashford were a little aggrieved and even more so when referee Turner put his whistle to his lips for a foul only to see if any advantage accrued, which it quickly didn’t and instead of bringing the play back, allowed it to continue and Beaconsfied quickly went up the other end and almost took the lead. Borders were repelled though and only Hakim Hammami, who had come on at half-time for Scott Weight and had played well, could tell you how he missed what looked an open goal as the ball was crossed.

In the end it didn’t matter, as in the 5th and final minute of stoppage time a scramble in the goal area saw the Beaconsfield boys unable to clear their lines and Ashford’s “man of the match” Mark Bitmead crashed it home for his second goal ensuring all three points at the same time.  Beaconsfield had by this time had a man sent off for two cautions but many of us missed it.

There is no midweek match so the next game will see us playing at home to Histon next Saturday, kick-off 3.00 p.m.

Our possible opponents in the semi-final of the Middlesex Charity Cup have now been narrowed down to two, following Spelthorne’s victory over Rayners Lane 2-0 last week.  Spelthorne will now entertain Hampton & Richmond Borough to see who comes to us in the semi-final.  There are no dates as yet.

Also we have the Under-13 County Cup Final next Sunday, at Northwood FC, kick-off 10.30 a.m.  It is not easy reaching any County Final and the side deserve a lot of support if we can plenty of Ashford people to attend, More on all the forthcoming matches over the next few days.

Ashford make the fairly short trip to play Beaconsfield SYCOB on Saturday and a win would not only see the Tangerines leap frog over their opponents, but could also propel them into the top half of the table, depending upon other results.  After two hard fought victories in their last two matches Ashford’s confidence is high, especially as Beaconsfield have not been in great form recently, without a win in March.  Their only point though was a “good one” when they drew at Potters Bar recently.

In 11 previous matches against SYCOB, we have 7 wins, three defeats and one draw.  However, the three defeats have come in the last three games against our opponents, including a loss by 2 goals to 1 at Short Lane back in December.

The address of the ground is Holloways Park Windsor Road Beaconsfield Buckinghamshire HP9 2SE and it is within two minutes of Junction 2 of the M40.  It is 16 miles from ground to ground and there is a large car park.  Kick-off is at 3.00 p.m. as usual.

All tomorrow's junior matches can be found on the Ashford Facebook Page

 

After a very decent performance against Aylesbury United on Saturday, Ashford produced one of their best performances of the season on Tuesday evening, beating Wingate & Finchley from the Ryman Premier Division by two goals to nil, to advance into the semi-final of the Middlesex Charity Cup.

We don’t know who we will be playing yet as much of the information on the County web site concerning cup competitions seems to have been removed but there will be information here as soon as have it.

The match started at a fast pace with both sides striving to play good football.  Ashford always seemed to have a little edge though and the pressure was rewarded on just 10 minutes when Mark Bitmead was on hand to a reach cross first and slam the ball home.

Although Tyler Tobin was busy throughout the evening, in goal, Wingate were unable to create too many real opportunities and it wasn’t really a surprise when Ashford doubled the lead on 37 minutes.  Max Herbert took a short corner, soon got the ball back and resisted pressure to send the ball into the corner via a slight deflection, to give Ashford a comfortable half-time lead.

The pace died to an extent in the second half and the visitors certainly had more of the game but were unable to make a telling impression.  Ashford were generally pleasing supporters with a tremendously committed display and, although there were no further goals, saw the match out reasonably comfortably to take their place in the last four.  Although everyone performed well, one player stood out for many and that man was Bailey Mummery, who easily won the “Ashford Man of the Match” award as voted by supporters.

It’s back to the League on Saturday with the short visit to play Beaconsfield SYCOB, who have just a one point advantage over the Tangerines, but are three places ahead in the table.  A win could see Ashford moving up the table by up to three places  but more on that match later in the week.

Some of our younger sides from Under-7 upwards, namely the U-7's, 8's Colts, 9's Colts, Warriors and Juniors and the 11's. put in a long stint packing bags at Tescos last Saturday and made a huge impression, with their manners and helpfulness, raising no less than £600 in a Day.  Having raised far more than anticipated, it has been decided that £300 should be passed to local lad Alfie, whose story can be read at:  https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/HelpAlfiethecham

This is Alfie’s story from his mum:

Alfie needs antibody therapy to get him the life that he deserves....
My little boy Alfie was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma when he was 5. He completed 18 months of treatment to be classed as in Remission. Remission was short lived bacuse he relapsed at the age of 9, he was subjected to another 18 months of treatment and classed as NED.
Sadly in April 2016 Alfie relapsed for the 2nd time....
Alfie so far has had 8 rounds of chemotherapy and have managed to shrink his tumour. He is starting oral chemo in the next feed days to keep his tumour stable while the plan and organise the next stage of treatment.

He will be having Mibg therapy late March.

I spoke with Alfie's consultant today and asked what we really need to do to get Alfie the life he needs to live.... she said antibodies. I knew this was coming and said if I was to fundraise how much would we need. We need £600,000 to save my beautiful boy.

Alfie is such a lovely boy, at 14 he's already been through enough. He's spent 10 years of his life fighting this awful disease. So knowing what I know now I'm asking for your help to fundraise to give him the chance he deserves.

Shelley... Alfie's mum x

Shelley has already written a thank you to the lads which you can read on the Ashford Facebook page but It may be that a few more of us at the Club would like to help this very worthy cause and anyone who wishes to should head for the special fundraising site at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/HelpAlfiethechamp?utm_id=108&utm_term=P9QA49ady

Back to our lads and well done to all the players involved and their managers, who did a superb job.

 

 

Ashford travelled to meet Aylesbury United on Saturday and returned with all three points in a 2-1 victory, a win that leaves the Tangerines mathematically clear of relegation although it was virtually assured anyway.

The match was played in windy conditions but both sides made the best of it and there was some excellent football all round at times.  With the wind behind them in the first half, Aylesbury started strongly and used the wind to their advantage, putting Ashford’s back four under considerable pressure and it was deserved when they took the lead on just 11 minutes when a low cross was swept in by the unmarked Lee Coulter.

Ashford though fought back well and equalised within two minutes when Mark Bitmead saw his first effort well saved but he got to the rebound and smashed it home.  The scoreline was now even and so was the match as Ashford started to get their game together.

In the second period Ashford had the wind largely behind them and gradually got on top although both sides still had opportunities.  It was Ashford who clinched it though when skipper Russell Canderton scored from a corner kick, with ten minutes or so left.  Once again his first effort was blocked but he was able to hook the rebound into the net.

It was a good day for the Tangerines not least because Jack Beadle and Conor Moody are both back with the club, Jack playing the full 90 minutes and Conor coming on quite early in the second half.  Although players obviously come and go, the club has always been fairly tight knit in terms of players, witnessed by the number in the current squad who have played 100 matches or more (10 of the current squad) and this seemed very much a home coming, clearly much welcomed by the Ashford supporters present.  We should like to thank both Egham Town and Bedfont Sports for allowing the two moves to go through so quickly.

The hospitality at Aylesbury was excellent as was the referee, Mr. Lewis, who controlled the game very well and there wasn’t a caution in sight, the second consecutive match that this has happened.  The only drawback was to find when we got back to the Club that the bitter had run out due to an oversight on the ordering front.  It didn’t spoil an excellent day though.

We now turn our attention to the Quarter Final of the Middlesex Charity Cup, in which we are at home to Wingate and Finchley on Tuesday evening, kick-off 7.45 p.m.  Although they suffered defeat on Saturday, they are doing well this season in the Premier Division of the Ryman League and it is likely to be a tough test for us but one to relish.  We have only played each other on six previous competitions, mostly cup matches, the most recent meeting being in October 2008, when we lost at Wingate by four goals to two in an FA Trophy replay, after drawing one apiece at Short Lane three days earlier.

There won’t be any extra time tomorrow.  Should the match be level at 90 minutes, we go straight to penalties.

The Ladies and junior results, etc., will be on here shortly, along with a special article about the excellent work done by some of our younger sides on Saturday.

Ashford make the journey to play Aylesbury United on Saturday and will be hoping to have their full squad available, following Tuesday’s rather difficult trip to Kempston Rovers.

Few, if any of us, will have visited the ground before as Aylesbury ground share at Thame United and their ground is a new one and not the one in which we met Thame in earlier seasons.  The address is:  Thame United FC, The ASMN Stadium, Meadow View Park, Thame, Oxfordshire, OX9 3RN.  Ground to ground it is a journey of around 42 miles along the M40, leaving at Junction 7, on to the A329, towards Thame. From there it is just over 4 miles to the ground.  Kick-off is 3.00 p.m.

Earlier in the season we drew one apiece at Short Lane, our goal being a penalty from Mark Bitmead.  In league terms, until this season our two clubs only met in the 2013-2014 season, when we lost both games by the odd goal.  That is balanced and doubtless well remembered by our older supporters when 13 years ago, when our opponents were a far bigger club than ourselves, we went to their old ground and won in the FA Cup by one goal to nil.  Our scorer was Ryan Lake.

After tomorrow we have our last chance for this season of any cup success, when we entertain Ryman Premier side Wingate & Finchley in the quarter-final of the Middlesex Charity Cup.  They are in the same position so will probably field a strong team but such matches tend to bring the best from us sometimes and we will certainly harbour though of victory.

Here are Sunday’s junior fixtures:

Ashford Sports Club – Short Lane 11-a-side Pitch

John U13s v Hampton Youth 10am

Paul U13s v Ascot United 11:30

Ashford Town 5 – 5 Pitch 2

Bill U8s v Sutton Unites 11am

Ashford Town 9 – 9 Pitch

Kirk U11s v Halliford 10am

Nelson U11s v Claygate 11am

Dave/Joe U12s v Westside 12pm

Ashford Town – Outfield

Carl 10:30am

Simon U16s v Claygate 12:30

Ashford Town Stadium

Middlesex County Cup Final 10:30 U15s 

 

Away Games

Michael U7s v Bedfont

Chris U8s v Whitton Wanderers

Cass U8s v Hampton Rangers

Neil U8s v Twickenham Tigers

Steve U8s v Spelthorne Sports

Andy U9s v Sandgate

Matt U9s v Sheen Lions

Rhys U9s v Whitton Wanderers

Ryan U9s v Woking Cougars

Matt U10s v Esher Colts

Graham U11s v Roehampton

Larry U13s v Spelthorne

Fin U14s v Corinthian Casuals

Ben U16s v Worcester Park

Conor U16s v Wandgas

 

Ashford Ladies have a big match on Sunday away to New London Lionesses in the semi-final of the Capital Junior Cup.

Ashford made the 60 mile trip into Bedfordshire on Tuesday evening to play Kempston Rovers but came away losing by two goals to nil.  Although generally, the League schedules its fixtures well, a few midweek longer trips are part and parcel of this level of football but it can be problematic and Ashford’s squad was stretched to the limit on Tuesday, with key players unable to make it, including top scorer Mark Bitmead.

It was the first visit to Kempston whose facilities are excellent.  They are also looking to get into the play-offs but in the first half, which was relatively even, the visitors stood up to the task even though the home side had a greater number of chances.  Although always a little prone to the long ball behind, the back four were coping well with some lively forward play from the home side and Tyler Tobin in goal was superb all evening, with some excellent goalkeeping.  On one occasion, three successive corners in quick succession led to some last ditch defending but the Tangerines stood firm at this point.

There were chances for Ashford, the two main ones falling to Dan Fleming, ploughing at times a lonely furrow up front and, on another day, he would have taken them.  One effort was hit hard and true but it was straight at Kempston’s diminutive keeper and he was able to push it away, whilst the other came crashing back off the bar.  There was no scoring at the break.

The second half was a different story.  It was another match where the first goal looked as if it would be significant and within five minutes it was scored by Kempston.  The ball was not properly cleared and an attack down their right flank led to a low cross and the ball was stabbed home by Ashley Fuller.

That really settled the match even though there was plenty of time left, as it became largely a matter of repelling boarders for Ashford with the home side intensifying their attacks.  By hook or by crook, Ashford kept them out for a long time and had Theo Alexis been able to make more of an excellent but isolated opportunity it might have turned out differently but a defender got in a tackle at the last moment.

On 73 minutes the match was definitely settled when Kempston scored their second through Jake Newman.  Ashford did not let their heads drop but with Fleming isolated up top until the last few minutes when Samad Kazi pushed up, they did not look like scoring and it was another defeat, even though it would have been difficult to criticise any one Ashford player as they gave their all against a very good side, whose distribution from the back was excellent.  Young Keegan Stuart made his senior debut with just a few moments to go.

The game was played in a good spirit and neither side incurred a caution and the refereeing was good.  The League Chairman was present as he had not yet seen Ashford this season and we had a very interesting talk with him before the match.  We face Kempston at home in a few weeks when we will have a few more supporters.  It is difficult for supporters to travel longer distances in midweek so well done to Dan Weight who was the only one who made it, (we think) apart from committee members.

We have another away match on Saturday when we travel to Thame United’s new ground to meet Aylesbury United, who ground share there.  Although we have played Thame in the past, we have not played at their present stadium so it will be another new experience.  There will be more details on here tomorrow.

In the meantime here are last Sunday’s junior results:

Michael U7s 6-5 Molesey

Andy U9s 3-2 Whitton

Matt U9s 3-1 Walton

Matt U10s 2-1 Sheen Lions

Graham U11s 6-1 Kingston Town

Kirk U11s 5-1 Kew Association

Joe U12s 1-1 Walton Casuals

Paul U13s 6-3 Woking

Craig U14s 6-1 Kew Park

Fin U14s 4-1 Kings Park

Ben U16s 1-1 Croygas

The Ladies carried on their merry way, with a 10-1 home victory over Crystal Palace Development on Sunday and now sit five points behind Godalming (their match against them the previous week was a cup-tie by the way, so apologies for assuming it was a league match) with three matches in hand.

The Ladies have been drawn at home against New London Lionesses in the semi finals of the Greater London Women's Football League Trophy.  Elsewhere Battersea & Hammersmith will face Putney Vale away in the other semi final.

The semi-finals are scheduled to be played on Sunday 9th April and will be a single leg only going to penalties if the scoreline is a draw after 90 minutes.

The final is due to be played on 21st May 2017.

 

Ashford suffered a disappointing defeat at home to Potters Bar Town, on Saturday, losing at home by three goals to nil.

Every game in this League is very different and it is never easy to predict beforehand just how a particular match will go.  Ashford came into this game in reasonably good form whilst their opponents, although higher in the table, had not had that great a time recently.

Despite the eventual scoreline, the game was much of a stalemate with Ashford, despite their best efforts, struggling to break down a very competent and well organised defence.  Inevitably there were close things at both end but it remained scoreless at half-time and it certainly started to look as if the first team to score would probably go on to win.

So it proved.  Potters Bar got their noses in front just after the hour mark and it was controversial.  Rusell Canderton was the alleged guilty man although he was livid, claiming that his opponent had dived.  Once the inevitable fracas had died down, the resulting penalty kick was calmly despatched and the away side were on their way.

As the match went on two more incidents had a bearing on the match.  As Ashford attacked, a foul on his full-back by Mark Bitmead saw the visiting right back jump up and clearly retaliate with a considerable degree of violence.  It was a poor foul and Bitmead was rightly cautioned but the violence of the retaliation seemed a clear sending off to everyone bar Mr.Bandara who only issued a yellow card.  We get players sent off when they’re nowhere near the ball whilst this player got away with it  but nothing we can do.

The other major incident that could well have made all the difference from Ashford's point of view was a superb effort from Dan Fleming that beat the keeper and crashed back into play from the bar.  That would have levelled the scores had it gone in but very quickly the visitors broke and ended up by doubling the scoreline.

Ashford pushed more men forward as the game drew to its conclusion but as they did so, and as so often happens, Potters Bar broke away again and emphasised the three points with a third goal.  So not the greatest day in Ashford’s history.  Although it was obviously the same for both sides the pitch did not help Ashford on the day, being unusually bobbly and it could have clearly done with some water on it, such is the drainage which at times is a boon but it wasn’t on Saturday.  That said, Ashford managed a perfectly competent display on a worse surface at Barton the previous week.

We can only move on and on Tuesday evening we make the 60 mile trip to meet Kempston Rovers at the third time of asking.  The address of the ground is shown in the previous article and kick-off is at 7.45 p.m.  It is a longer trip, especially in midweek, but the lads will certainly appreciate your support if possible.

A round up of the junior games and the Ladies, etc., will appear tomorrow.

Following last week’s stirring draw at Barton Rovers, Ashford are back at Short Lane on Saturday when the visitors will be Potters Bar Town FC.  They have been enjoying a generally successful season although their form has slipped a little in recent weeks.  They will arrive in 9th place in the table with a nine point advantage over Ashford although the Tangerines have a match in hand.

Earlier in the season we lost 2-3 at Potters Bar when the match ended rather controversially, following two refereeing decisions that went against us near the end.  This will in fact be only the second visit that Potters Bar have made to our ground, the last one being in November 2013 when they went away with all three points in a 2-0 victory.

Kick-off as usual is at 3.00 p.m.

We have picked up more than sufficient points in recent weeks to ensure there are no relegation worries (for what it’s worth mathematically, we need six more points to be absolutely certain, or for Histon to drop just six more) and we will look to the remainder of the season to win as many matches as possible to get ourselves into the top half of the table.

On Tuesday we travel to meet Kempston Rovers for the first time this season.  The address of their ground is Hillgrounds Leisure, Hillgrounds Road, Kempston, Bedford, MK42 8SZ and it is a journey of 60 miles, leaving the M1 at Junction 13, and then the A421 to Kempston.  Kick-off is 7.45 p.m.

Thoughts will start to drift to next season, at the end of which big changes are planned by the FA with the formation of an extra division at both Steps 3 and 4, the latter being our current level.  The two extra divisions are likely to be Midlands based but it should, overall, mean less travelling and inevitably there will be changes.  We could even find ourselves back in the Ryman League.  It is likely that just one side will be relegated from each of the Step 4 divisions at the end of next season and there may be enhanced promotion opportunities.  Overall though each division at Step 4 will have just 20 sides.

It is now definite that next season will commence on Saturday 12 August and thanks to some nippy work by the manager we already have one pre-season game lined up, away on Saturday 5 August to South Park FC from the Ryman League Division One South.

Ashford Under-18’s have a home match this evening against Hayes & Yeading U18, which is always a difficult fixture.  Kick-off is 7.45 p.m. although there will be a cursory pitch inspection this afternoon.

Following Will Boye’s resignation as U18 manager, 1st Team supremo Ben Murray will be running the side for the final 8 matches this season, assisted by Conor Moody.

As a side note, we are missing our usual gateman this evening, so if there is anyone who could step in, please come forward (phone 07956 930719)

Also, just to re-confirm, the 1st Team re-arranged match at Kempston Rovers takes place next Tuesday, 14 March, whilst the 1st Team home game against Wingate & Finchley is scheduled for the following Tuesday, 21 March.

Ashford came within two minutes of beating 3rd placed Barton Rovers on Saturday, but a goal in the 88th minute from the home side left the match tied at one apiece.

On a heavy and unpredictable surface, meaning that quality football was always going to be at a premium, Ashford nevertheless had a determination about them from the start which possibly surprised their high flying opponents.

Ashford closed down well throughout, with Mark Bitmead and Dan Fleming setting the example from the front.  Neither keeper had been seriously troubled in the opening exchanges but the Tangerines went in front on 13 minutes, when Bitmead, receiving from Samad Kazi, advanced down the right and, under pressure, delivered a superb cross, met by Fleming who knocked it into the net in an instant before neither his closest marker nor the keeper could intercept or get a tackle in.

Ashford survived a penalty scare shortly before half-time when referee Hart quite rightly adjudged that Kazi had not handled deliberately, if atall, although Barton may have taken a different view.

The anticipated fight back from the home side did not really materialise after the break and the game remained generally even, with arguably, the visitors still looking the more likely to score.  Bitmead was unlucky not to double the lead when a fierce effort was goal bound but one of Barton’s giant defenders managed to head the ball over the bar possibly more through luck than judgement.  As the final minutes approached Ashford were generally looking comfortable, and had a huge penalty shout in the dying minutes when Fleming was bundled over quite blatantly it seemed, but Mr. Hart thought otherwise and waved play on.  Within seconds, a long clearance was flicked on and for the first time in the match Ashford found themselves caught out as Barton debutant Danny Watson got the final touch, despite Kazi’s best efforts to get it off the line.

Mark Bitmead was voted by Ashford supporters as their “Ashford Man of the Match” but just about anyone would have had a claim and it was a far better performance than the one the previous week when Ashford had just scraped home against Petersfield.  In particular, a dominant performance by central defenders Russell Canderton and Romario Jonas, now seemingly back to full match fitness, was notable.  The midfield competed for every ball and Ashford now look forward to their next home match against Potters Bar Town on Saturday.

There are no details yet but the Ladies came out on top yesterday in their top of the table clash against Godalming Town Ladies, winning by 2 goals to 1, giving themselves an excellent chance of winning their division for the second season in a row.

The junior results are to hand as follows:

Cass U8s 5-6 Whitton

Bill U7s 1-1 Epsom

Michael U7s 3-0 Kingston

Chris U8s 6-5 Walton & Hersham

Andy U9s 1-3 AFC Walcountians

Matt U9s 3-2 Carshalton

Ryan U9s 0-1 Kew Association

Matt U10s 2-5 Bedfont

Joe U12s 0-3 South Park

Larry U13s 2-3 Corinthian

John U13s 5-3 Kew Park

Paul U13s 4-2 Woking Cougars

Craig U14s 3-1 Stoneleigh

Fin U14s 4-2 Kings Park

Martin U15s 6-1 Mitcham Park

Ben U16s 5-3 Croygas

Conor U16s 0-0 Meadow Sports

We wish Will Boye well as he has decided to return to his previous club, Colliers Wood United, although he is still running the Ladies’ side.  Will played 52 times for the Tangerines, five as sub, scoring just the one goal, since joining us last season.

On the other side of the coin, giant Frenchman Dylan Duby has joined us.  He played only a cameo role on Saturday coming on in stoppage time, following International Clearance being granted two days earlier, but he looks a real find.

Ashford have been drawn at home to Wingate & Finchley in the quarter-final of the Middlesex Charity Cup, and the game has been fixed for Tuesday 21 March.

 

Finally, we would like to thank Barton for their excellent hospitality on Saturday which was greatly appreciated.

 

Ashford travel to 3rd placed Barton Rovers on Saturday in what will be a tough match.  Barton’s recent form shows a 1-1 draw at Bedford Town last Saturday, preceded by two home wins over Northwood (5-1) and Aylesbury (3-2),  Before that, they lost 2-3 at Beaconsfield SYCOB.  Back in October, Ashford managed to beat their opponents in a high scoring match, winning by six goals to three, ours coming from Mark Bitmead (2), Dan Fleming (2) and Kam English (2).

We first met Barton in the 2001-02 season in what was then Ryman League Division 2.  There have been eleven matches over the years between us, with both clubs winning five each and one draw.

The address of the ground is Luton Road, Barton Le Clay, Bedfordshire MK45 4LQ and it is a journey of around 42 miles from ground to ground using the M25 and the M1 (leave M1 at Junction 11), although there are various alternative roads that can be used.  Kick-off is at 3.00 p.m.

As usual most of our junior sides are in action on Sunday and here are the fixtures:

Ashford Sports Club - Club House 11-a-side Pitch

FC Hatton 10:30

Larry U14s v Corinthian Casuals 12:30

Ashford Sports Club – Short Lane 11-a-side Pitch

Conor U16s v Meadow Sports 10am

Ben U16s v Croygas 11:30

Ashford Town 5 – 5 Pitch 1

Cass U8s v Whitton Wanderers 10am

Chris U8s v Walton & Hersham 11am

Ashford Town 5 – 5 Pitch 2

Neil U8s v Spelthorne Sports 10am

Steve U8s v Twickenham Tigers 11am

Ashford Town 7 – 7 Pitch

Rhys U9s v Barnes Eagles 10am

Ryan U9s v Kew Association 11am

Matt U10s v Bedfont Eagles 12pm  

Ashford Town 9 – 9 Pitch

Joe U12s v South Park 10am

Ashford Town – Outfield

Gary 10:30am

Craig U14s v Stoneleigh 12:30

Ashford Town Stadium

Ladies v Godalming 2pm 

Away Games

Michael U7s v Kingston Town

Bill U8s v Epsom Athletic

Andy U9s v AFC Walcountians

Matt U9s v Carshalton

Graham U11s v Elm Grove

Kirk U11s v St Helier

Nelson U11s v Carshalton

John U13s v Kew Park Rangers

Paul U13s v Woking Cougars

Fin U14s v Kings Park

Martin U15s v Mitcham Park

Simon U16s v Lyne Lions

 

The Ladies have what might be called their “crunch” match on Sunday when they entertain Godalming Ladies at Short Lane , kick-off 2.00 p.m.  Godalming are top of the league five points ahead of Ashford but have played three matches more.

 

 

Ashford have been drawn at home to Wingate & Finchley in the 3rd Round (Quarter Final) of the Middlesex Charity Cup.  There is no date yet but Wingate & Finchley are in the Ryman League and they currently sit in 5th place in the Premier Division table.

We have not played them since October 2008, when we lost 2-4 at home in an FA Trophy replay, after drawing one apiece at their ground.  Our scorers in the replay were Scott Todd and John Palmer.  At Wingate, it was Byron Harrison who got our goal.

Ashford’s re-arranged match at Chertsey Town on Tuesday evening suffered a further postponement due to heavy rain immediately beforehand causing the pitch to become a quagmire.

The match was only called off after the players had arrived and there was no opportunity to put the postponement on the web site, although the club’s twitter feed carried news of it almost as it happened.  Nevertheless we apologise to any of our supporters who had a fruitless trip.  The match will be re-arranged shortly.

We now start to look forward to the trip to Horley Town on Saturday and there will be more on that one later in the week.

This evening’s home U18 match at home to Bedfont Sports U18 will go ahead.

Please note that this morning's match away to Chertsey has been postponed due to the weather but has been re-arranged for TOMORROW EVENING, Tuesday 29 March, kick-off 7.45 p.m.

In the end the points were shared but visitors Hartley Wintney needed an equaliser in the 4th minute of stoppage time to deny Ashford a further three points.

Once again the elements were against good football, with a swirling wind and intermittent rainy squalls but there was a determination about both sides, as would be expected, making for an absorbing match watched by no less than 272 spectators, the fourth time this season that more than 200 people have watched an Ashford home match.  The attendance was better than many in the Ryman Premier League, including the attendances at Grays Athletic, Hendon, Leatherhead as well as our neighbours Staines Town and better than all but two in the Central Division of the Southern League.

It was the visitors who took the eye in the opening period, taking advantage of the elements, broadly in their favour, and pinning Ashford back.  As the match went on though, it became more even and it was the Tangerines who made the breakthrough shortly before half-time.  An over hit cprner was latched on to by Jack Beadle, later voted by supporters as “Ashford Man of the Match”, who turned sharply and hit a low drive underneath the keeper.

There was no further scoring before half-time although Ashford had a let-off immediately before the break when the visitors hit the inside of the post only for the ball to rebound to safety as the referee blew his whistle.

In the second half, whilst it was never easy, Ashford rarely looked as if they would lose the lead, especially with Hartley tending to play the long ball much of the time, although Tyler Tobin, excellent again in goal for Ashford, made one incredible save to turn the ball aside.  The better chances though fell to the Tangerines. Both Dan Fleming and Mark Bitmead had decent efforts well saved as Ashford’s main striking duo caused plenty of problems.

As the match drew to a close, Ashford should have made the match absolutely safe in the 86th minute as a superb movement involving several players but started by Josh Andrew, saw the same player in on goal when a simple tap in would have doubled the lead.  Unfortunately, and off balance, Josh was only able to put the ball the wrong side of the post.  It was a shame in many ways as not only would it have secured three points, it would have been the best goal at Short Lane this season.

It was not to be though and Hartley Wintney showed why they are champions elect when they equalised in the fourth minute of stoppage time.  A look at the excellent video available on the CCL forum shows that it was a better goal than anyone realised from the other end, as substitute Ross Cook latched on to a loose ball and cleverly evaded the onrushing Tobin and headed into an empty net.

It was a moment of disappointment for the Tangerines and Hartley Wintney will now have to slip up badly for them to concede the championship.  To be frank that would still have been the case even had Ashford secured all three points.   

However, it may or may not be true and we are not in the know, but with several of their folks saying quite openly yesterday that they will not be able to go up, the race for promotion may be a different matter.  Having secured four points from the last two very difficult matches, and conceding only one goal, Ashford will push on with confidence and look likely to battle it out with Camberley, although Epsom & Ewell cannot be discounted, despite their unexpected home defeat against Westfield on Friday. 

Indeed there are still plenty of points to be played for, starting with an away trip to Chertsey Town on Monday morning (kick-off 12.30 p.m.).  Chertsey have pulled away from the relegation zone in recent weeks with some good results, so it will not be easy, that is for certain, despite the Curfews losing by two goals to nil at Hanworth Villa on Saturday.

We must not lose sight of the achievements of our Ladies’ side this season and we now have details of their County Final.  They will play at Wealdstone FC on Sunday 17 April against University College Ladies, kicking off at 11.00 a.m.  Hopefully we can get plenty of support for them at the match.

Following last week’s reasonably comfortable win against Camberley Town, Ashford look forward to entertaining Hartley Wintney this afternoon.  Just as Camberley did last week, they arrive here with two big wins under their belt, against Guildford City and Colliers Wood, with striker Rob Argent having scored eight goals in those two matches

It is far too early to concede the championship but that said, it is for our visitors to throw it away, coming into today’s game as they do, with a six point lead and two matches in hand.  There is still plenty of football to be played though, with a further 24 points to be contested as far as Ashford is concerned anything can still happen.  There seems to be speculation around the League that our visitors may not be able to carry out all the ground improvements they require for promotion in time and perhaps they will shed some light on their situation this afternoon.  We cannot worry about that though as it is out of our hands but just in case it is true, second place would then obviously assume far more importance and we have to strive to the end, irrespective of this afternoon’s result.

We played at Hartley Wintney in midweek soon after the start of the season when we lost 0-2.  Although the first half was even enough, we rather disintegrated in the second period and the scoreline could have been worse.  There was a degree of mitigation as there was a major road accident that evening resulting in players arriving late and with our opponents unable or unwilling to put the kick-off back for a short period, we never seemed composed and the situation was not helped by a bad injury on the night to Mark Bitmead, who found himself carried off the pitch for the second season in a row at Hartley Wintney.

Whatever the result today, we have another match in 48 hours time away to Chertsey Town, when the kick-off will be at 12.30 p.m.  They have pulled away from the relegation area recently and we shall need to be just as up for it on Monday as doubtless the squad will be today.

The Under-18’s endured a disappointing result on Thursday, losing 0-8 to Staines Town who, admittedly have a strong team.  It was never going to be an easy game but frankly some of the players let their manager down and they need to do a lot better this coming Wednesday at home to Bedfont Sports.  The result was particularly disappointing coming, as it did, after the fine 5-2 win at Northwood the previous week.

The pressure for 1st team results will not ease next Saturday when we travel to Horley Town, who were in the hunt for promotion until quite recently.  Talking to their Chairman at Hanworth Villa earlier this week, they have now conceded that they will not achieve that this season but they have been a thorn in our side on more than one occasion.  It is probably our longest trip of the season but still seems quite local in comparison to some of the trips we made in the Southern League, often in midweek, to places like Daventry, Rugby etc and in the early 2000’s out to Taunton and Willenhall near Walsall.  It is a different world at Step 4 and we need to be ready for it, on and off the field, just in case it becomes relevant.

Ashford beat Camberley Town on Saturday by the only goal of the game, scored by Josh Andrew on 66 minutes, and thus continued their excellent recent form.

It was always going to be a match of intensity with both sides near the top of the League but Ashford had prepared well for Camberley’s generally direct approach, although that said, it is a big mistake to think that is all they do.  The clean sheet though is testimony to a generally excellent performance on the day.

In skipper Russell Canderton’s enforced absence at a wedding, Samd Kazi found himself at the back once again, partnering Will Boye, leaving Scott Weight to resume in midfield.  Dan Fleming also returned following his knock against Bedfont.

The first half was goalless although the visitors had cause to thank their keeper, Crag Bradshaw whose tip over from a Fleming drive was top drawer, as indeed was the effort.  Fleming was thwarted again when he seemed clear through but an excellent recovery tackle from ex-Ashford player Dale Webb saved the situation for Camberley.

The second half largely mirrored the first with the visitors’ main threat coming from the extremely long throws of defender Chris Ellis but Ashford generally dealt with them competently and were on top of their game.  Both Fleming and Jack Beadle went close but the killer blow came when the referee awarded Ashford a free kick right on the edge of the area, taken by Mark Bitmead.  His effort beat the wall but was pushed out by Bradshaw, who may have been unsighted, only for Josh Andrew, following up, to sweep the ball home.

Ashford had their tails up and were denied a second goal when Fleming was the victim of what must have been an extraordinarily close offside decision.  Mr. Jack, the referee, was generally excellent, keeping full control, although both sides were mostly well disciplined.  He will be remembered as the referee who blew up for a free kick to Ashford in the centre circle earlier this season at Colliers Wood when Jack Beadle had advanced with only the keeper to beat and sadly, and this is the only criticism, his use of the advantage rule does not seem to have improved.  It is perhaps a little harsh to mention it as he did have a very good game, but it was noticeable on three or four occasions.

As usual, Ashford supporters voted for the “Ashford Man of the Match” and it went to Scott Weight, although there were plenty of other contenders.  Had there been one for Camberley, it is likely that the vote would have gone to Bobby Dormer who was influential for the visitors.

The next match for the 1st Team is at home to Hartley Wintney next Saturday.

Last Thursday the Under-18’s enjoyed a 5-2 success at Northwood.  Northwood’s take on the game can be found at http://www.northwoodfc.com/youth-reports-1516/Ashford-H.html It is doubtful that our management team would agree with all their conclusions but they were certainly graceful enough to give the “man of the Match” award to Harry Herdman, who was one of three Under-18’s on the bench for the 1st Team match on Saturday..  This week the lads will be at home on Wednesday evening against Staines Town U18, kick-off 7.45 p.m.

 

Ashford are back at Short Lane on Saturday when they will look forward to entertaining Camberley Town in an important encounter but not one that will decide anything league wise with still plenty of matches to be played throughout April.

Camberley have enjoyed a notable season whatever ultimately happens in the League, reaching the 6th Round of the FA Vase and going so close to bringing favourites Hereford FC back to Camberley, losing out to a heartbreak goal right at the end of extra time.  They have slipped up once or twice in recent league matches but ten goals in their last two home games, five apiece against Hanworth Villa and Windsor is clear testament to their scoring potential and indeed their ability to cut loose if you let them.  Their long Vase run has left them with matches to catch up, the situation coming into this game being that our opponents are 12 points behind us but with 5 matches in hand.  If they win the lot they would overtake us of course but it is often said that points in the bag are more important and, being in that situation, Ashford will stick to that maxim for the time being.

Player wise they have a player, Chris Ellis, with a huge throw, at least the equal of those that Rory Delap used to put in for Stoke and Ashford defenders will need to be aware of the threat, which they will be, of course.  We also welcome back Bobby Dormer who had a brief spell with us this time last year, and indeed Camberley’s skipper Dale Webb, who also played for Ashford at the start of his career.  They have also recently signed speed merchant Elijah Ogunseye from Colliers Wood and Ashford supporters will remember him at Short Lane when he played here for his old club not too long ago.

This is not the last time we will see Camberley at Short Lane this season as they will be returning here in the semi-final of the League Cup, a match that we understand will take place on Tuesday 12 April.  Doubtless neither of us would have wished to be drawn together in the semi-final, with the other game seeing Farnham Town at home to Cobham, but it is what it is although that is for another day.

Our all-conquering Ladies’ side also have an important home match tomorrow when they will entertain Clapham Rovers Ladies in the Semi-Final of the Middlesex County FA Women’s Capital Cup.  We wish them every success and the match will kick off earlier than usual at 1.00 p.m.  Please come and lend your support if you can, it is free to watch.

Junior Chairman Nick Bailey has provided all the junior fixtures for tomorrow plus last week’s results which are listed below:

Ashford Sports Club - Club House 11-a-side Pitch

Tim U16s v Abbey Rangers 10am 

Ashford Sports Club – Short Lane 11-a-side Pitch

Martin U14s v Victoria 10am

Conor U15s v Rushmoor 11.30

Ashford Town 5 – 5 Pitch

Neil U7s v Trophy event (CB Hounslow/Twickenham Tigers) 10am

Andy U8s v Corinthian Casuals 12pm

Ashford Town 7 – 7 Pitch

Nelson U10s v Molesey Juniors 10am

Graham U10s v Kew Association 11.15

Matt U9s v Manorcroft 12.30

Ashford Town – Outfield

Craig U13s v Meadow Sport 10.30

Ben U15s v Royals Elite 12pm

Ashford Town– Stadium

Ladies v Clapham Ladies 1pm

Away Games

Bill U7s v Trophy event

Tom U7s v Trophy event

Matt U8s v Walton & Hersham

Larry U12s v Bedfont Eagles

Fin U13s v Met Police

Marco U15s v Guildford Saints

Carl U17s v Staines Albion

No Games

Tim U16s

Results from last Sunday

Bill U7s 3-3 Spelthorne

Neil U7s 6-2 Walton & Hersham

Graham U10s 5-2 Esher Colts

Craig U13s 11-0 Kew Park Rangers

Fin U13s 7-1 SCR Colts

Conor U15s 3-4 South Park

Marco U15s 1-7 Yateley

Carl U17s 1-2 Staines Town

 

 

 

A full blooded match at Gander Green Lane on Monday evening saw Ashford earn their second win in three days with a 4-2 success over Sutton Common Rovers.

It was Ashford’s first foray on to the artificial surface and it is an impressive sight if you have not seen it before with the straightest lines anyone could imagine, not exactly what you get at most grounds in the CCL!  The surface too is a huge improvement on those of the past even though one got the impression that actually playing on it was still different to normal.  It will be interesting to have the players’ views.  Spectators remain some distance from the pitch though, thanks to the old running track still in existence, despite now being swathed in green.

On a cold evening it was the home side who drew first blood on 27 minutes when Nemo Adams took full advantage of a defensive error to put his side ahead.  It was hard on the visitors as they had started to play some enterprising football on the surface and it was the third match in a row where Ashford have conceded the first goal against the run of play.

It is goals that count though, not the run of play, but as in previous matches, it did not take too long before the equaliser arrived and what a superb strike it was from Mark Bitmead, in the 34th minute, direct from a free kick.

Ashford rarely make life easy for themselves though and just five minutes later SCR took the lead for the second time, when again, better defending would have prevented the goal.  It was scored by the dangerous Phil Page, whose runs were causing problems and it was understandable that SCR looked long for him on almost every occasion.

The game had become feisty and referee Hounsell was gradually filling his notebook, just as he had at Ashford a few weeks earlier, including the rare sight of Tommy Brunton being cautioned for a foul tackle.  There were no more goals before half-time though but Ashford were playing some good football against determined opposition and there was every hope they could pull matters round in the second period.

So it proved with a dominant performance in the second half.  Despite plenty of pressure, it took until the 65th minute for the equaliser to arrive, even though the writing had been on the wall.  Once again it was Bitmead, later voted “Ashford man of the match” who scored it, this time from the spot following a trip.  SCR keeper Sam Freeman guessed correctly but couldn’t keep the effort out.

The home side were still looking for Page at every opportunity and he certainly remained a danger but their attacks had become more spasmodic and all chances of winning went out of the window for them when he was sent off for violent conduct.  Initially, and from the other end, it looked harsh as Tyler Tobin, cautioned for his part in the incident, held on to the ball when he should have released it and it looked from a distance as if Page was simply trying to wrestle the ball back.  The referee confirmed afterwards though that the dismissal was for an attempted head butt, a decision that incensed the home side but it cannot be argued that the referee was right on the spot.

Ashford became ever more dominant in possession and it was no surprise when they finally took the lead on 76 minutes when Samad Kazi, released from defensive duties in recent matches, rose to head home a pin point cross from Alex Fisher.

Kazi in fact had caused problems all evening with his pace, and it was he who made the game totally safe just five minutes later when he slotted home from a through ball.  Sub Bradley Wainwright almost made it five soon afterwards but overall it was a determined performance by the visitors who found, in the second half, that the surface suited them very well indeed.

The Under-18’s are in action later this week, when they travel to Northwood on Thursday evening, whilst the next 1st Team match is at home to Camberley Town on Saturday.  There will be more on that one later in the week.

Ashford will make the trip to play Sutton Common Rovers tomorrow evening (Monday) in search of further league points.  SCR now play at the ground of Sutton United, the address of which is The Borough Sports Ground, Gander Green Lane, Sutton, SM1 2EY, kick-off 7.45 p.m. (not 7.30 as shown in the programme on Saturday).  The last time Ashford played there, in 2010, they defeated Sutton by four goals to two, in a memorable Ryman League Premier Division match so the ground has happy memories.

It is a bold move by SCR, always an enterprising club, and we certainly wish them well in eventually finding a home of their own.  In the meantime as doubtless, everyone will be aware, Sutton are in the first season of using a 3G pitch and it is important that players ensure they have the proper footwear for the surface, which one would hope would suit Ashford’s passing game very well.

SCR enjoyed an excellent run in this year’s FA Vase, only losing out eventually to Bowers & PItsea in a much delayed match and their conquerors have gone on to reach the semi-final of the competition and may even make the Final.  In the League, SCR currently sit in 15th place with 11 wins and 16 defeats from their 31 matches to date.  This will be our first meeting of the season due to a previous postponement, with the return “leg” to come almost at the end of the campaign.

In the meantime, the Club will be open tomorrow evening as St Marys University Ladies are playing a further friendly at the ground.

Ashford faced an in-form Bedfont Sports on Saturday and just managed to come out on top, winning by three goals to two in an intriguing match, in front of a sizeable attendance, augmented by a number of junior players and their parents.  Thank you for your attendance.

All the goals came in the second half, although Ashford came closest in the first period when Samad Kazi, pushed further forward for this match, almost broke the deadlock with the last kick of the half as his excellent effort hit the post and rebounded to safety.  He also had another effort disallowed for offside.  There were other opportunities whilst for the visitors Matt Baxter always looked dangerous but there were no goals at the break.  Ashford supporters were happy though that Ashford were performing far better than they had at Raynes Park Vale on Tuesday evening.

The second half started with a bang as the visitors took the lead.  A miskick allowed Baxter in and he made no mistake.  Two minutes later though Ashford were level.  An effort from Scott Weight was only partially cleared and with a defender confusing his keeper, Jack Beadle was on hand to knock the ball into an empty net.

Ten minutes later Ashford went in front when Perry Luckins, unmarked at a corner kick, smashed the ball into the roof of the net.

Bedfont though were no spent force and levelled the scores, once again through Baxter, who scored from close range when Ashford failed to clear.

Ashford continued to press though and a rather odd goal four minutes from the end of normal time secured the winner and it was Ashford “man of the match” Samad Kazi who scored it from a cross, nipping in front of the keeper although it was unclear which part of his anatomy actually put the ball in the net.

The result was all important, as it got Ashford back on the winning trail and with a decent performance generally against opponents who are building a strong squad under Paul Johnson.

It’s one match at a time of course and the next one comes up very quickly, on Monday evening, away to Sutton Common Rovers.  More on that one later.

Contrary to a recent statement, Monday’s match will not be the first time Ashford have played a competitive match on an artificial surface as we did, of course, play several games at the old Feltham Arena against Feltham FC.  One or two of our older supporters have been quick to point that out.

Ashford will be relieved to be back at home on Saturday on a decent surface as they welcome neighbours Bedfont Sports to Short Lane, kick-off 3.00 p.m.

Bedfont come into the match in good form having won their last four league games and, on form alone, will be the favourites to win this tussle.  Ashford need though to recover from the indifferent performance at Raynes Park Vale on Tuesday and it is hard to imagine they could be quite so poor at the back again as they were in midweek.  That said, good teams do not become bad sides overnight and all Ashford supporters will be aware of just how good the squad can be when they put their minds to it.  Your full support will be particularly welcome which can only help.

The attendance will be augmented tomorrow by the presence of a number of our junior sides with the match designated as “junior day” following the success of previous occasions.  Sadly we suffered a break-in probably last Monday when some scum broke in to the boardroom and stole the boardroom fridge plus assorted drinks.  They also emptied the fridge in the kitchen and took the till which fortunately was empty.  If anybody has a small fridge that they could donate to the club we would be delighted to accept it.

It is all action at the moment, with another away match coming up just 48 hours afterwards, when the Tangerines go to Sutton Common Rovers, who play at Sutton United.  The writer stands to be corrected but this will possibly be the first ever time that the club has played a competitive match on an artificial surface.  More on that one later.

Here are Sunday’s junior fixtures:

Ashford Sports Club – Short Lane 11-a-side Pitch

Craig U13s v Kew Park Rangers 10am

Fin U13s v SCR Colts 11.30

Ashford Town 5 – 5 Pitch

Matt U8s v Kew Association 10am

Bill U7s v Spelthorne Sports 11.15

Ashford Town 7 – 7 Pitch

Graham U10s v Esher Colts 10.30

Away Games

Neil U7s v Walton & Hersham

Tom U7s v Twickenham Tigers

Andy U8s v Claygate

Nelson U10s v AFC Walcountians

Conor U15s v South Park

Marco U15s v Yateley

Tim U16s v Corinthian Casuals

Carl U17s v Staines Albion

No Games

Matt U9s

Larry U12s

Martin U14s

Ben U15s

Results from Sunday 6 March 2016

Bill U7s 2-2 West Side

Tom U7s 3-4 Staines Town

Matt U8s Tournament W/W/D

Andy U8s Tournament L/W/D

Graham U10s 7-2 Rocks Lane

Larry U12s 4-0 SCR Colts

Craig U13s 0-2 Croygas

Fin U13s 5-0 Met Police

Ben U15s 6-0 Met Police

Conor U15s 2-1 South Park

Marco U15s 2-4 Spelthorne

Tim U16s 3-3 Kew Park Rangers

Carl U17s 1-6 Horsley 

 

Ashford’s attempts to gain promotion were dealt a blow on Tuesday evening at Raynes Park Vale when a sub-standard defensive performance nullified two quality first half goals, leaving the home side the victors by three goals to two.

A positive start by the visitors belied what was to come but despite dominating possession throughout the early stages, Ashford found themselves a goal behind in the home side’s first attack of any note in the 11th minute.  It did not seem as if too much harm had been caused as just four minutes later Mark Bitmead restored parity when he got on the end of a superb cross from Dan Fleming.

Just before the half-hour mark, the roles were reversed when Bitmead dug out an excellent cross and Fleming’s header put Ashford in front.

It was a major disappointment though when the home side equalised on 38 minutes from a corner kick, following a mix-up on the goal line, although it was quite difficult to see from the other end, as half the lights don’t seem to be working at Raynes Park Vale leaving one end distinctly shadowy.

Nevertheless with 45 minutes to come down the slope, Ashford’s supporters were reasonably confident of better things to come in the second period but the visitors just never got going and another dreadful defensive error allowed the home side to go ahead on 63 minutes.

We then endured quite an unpleasant fracas that saw a home player removed for violent conduct and a caution for Jack Beadle but it took so long for the official to get play going again that it led to some major frustration, especially from the Ashford bench.

That was it though.  A superb effort from Max Webb that the keeper tipped over the bar was about the only time that Ashford really threatened to pull the match round and the game ended in severe disappointment for the Tangerines.

So what now?  There are two choices really.  Either the club concedes that it will not overhaul our major rivals and settles for another season in the CCL, or we roll our sleeves up and play as hard as we can for the 33 points that are still available to be won and see where it takes us.  It is worth remembering that all the clubs near the top have suffered unexpected defeats in recent weeks and there is not one club in this league who cannot win against anyone on their day. 

The next match is at home on Saturday against neighbours Bedfont Sports and they will arrive in good form with four successive wins behind them but more on this game later in the week.

It is worrying when matches are still being postponed in March but sadly it continues to happen in the CCL and Ashford were the latest victims on Saturday when their scheduled match away to Redhill was called off, to become the only Premier Division game to suffer that fate, this in a week when there had been very little rain.

The state of the pitches at some CCL grounds must be cause for concern by the League.  It certainly penalises clubs such as Camberley, Windsor, ourselves and others who rarely see a home match called off but then find themselves having to play a disproportionate number of games away in midweek.  This particular match, at Redhill, will almost certainly have to be re-arranged for a Thursday evening, as the League web site suggests our opponents have already run out of spare Tuesdays.

However, there is no choice but to move on and on Tuesday evening the Tangerines go to Raynes Park Vale in another re-arranged match.  They played at home on Saturday and with virtually no rain in the forecast before Tuesday the match will hopefully go ahead.  The match kicks off at 7.45 p.m. and the address of the ground is Prince George Playing Fields, Grand Drive, Raynes Park, SW20 9NB.   Parking is available at the end of the long drive leading up to the ground but it is limited.

Last season Ashford gave one of their poorest performances at Raynes Park Vale, deservedly losing 1-3 with only a Jack Beadle penalty to show for their efforts, and even that was a fortunate award.  Ashford will be well aware that their opponents are difficult to beat on their own ground but will doubtless be well prepared by manager Murray and hopefully at full strength.  Kick-off is 7.45 p.m.

This afternoon's match at Redhill has been postponed as their pitch remains waterlogged.

It will almost certainly have to be re-arranged for a Thursday evening,as Redhill have already run out of Tuesdays.

Next match is on Tuesday evening, away to Raynes Park Vale.

Here are this Sunday's fixtures as supplied by Nick Bailey, along with last week's results.

Ashford Sports Club - Club House 11-a-side Pitch

No Fixture

Ashford Sports Club – Short Lane 11-a-side Pitch

Fin U13s v Met Police 10am

Conor U15s v South Park 11.30

Ashford Sports Club – 9 – 9 Pitch

Larry U12s v SCR Colts 10.30 

Ashford Town 5 – 5 Pitch

Andy U8s v Trophy Event Tournament (10-12:30pm)

Neil U7s v Staines Town 12:45

Ashford Town 7 – 7 Pitch

Tommy U7s v Wallington Wanderers 10am (using half the 7v7)

Matt U9s v SCR Colts 11.15

Graham U10s v Rocks Lane 12.30

Ashford Town – Outfield

Tim U16s v Kew Park Rangers 10am

Carl U17s v Horsley 11.30

Ashford Town Stadium

No fixture

Away Games

Billy U7s v Westside

Matt U8s v Trophy Event

Nelson U10s v Bedfont & Feltham

Craig U13s v Croygas

Ben U15s v Met Police

Marco U15s v Spelthorne

Gary Mens v Hanworth

No Games

Martin U14s

 

Results Sunday 28 Feb

Neil U7s 3-4 Rocks Lane

Billy U7s 4-1 Epsom

Tommy U7s 1-2 Spelthorne

Matt U8s 2-2 Esher Colts

Matt U9s 1-1 CB Hounslow

Graham U10s 7-6 Kew Park Rangers

Nelson U10s 8-1 Hanworth

Larry U12s 0-7 Motspur Park

Craig U13s 1-9 Kew Park Rangers

Fin U13s 6-1 G4G

Ben U15s 2-5 Sheen Lions

Conor U15s 1-2 G4G

Marco U15s 3-2 Staines Lammas

Tim U16s 1-2 Kew Park Rangers

Carl U17s 1-2 Imber Court 

 

On Saturday, Ashford are due to make their first visit to play Redhill FC since October 1992, when they managed to win by three goals to two after extra time, in a Surrey Senior Cup clash, Ashford’s goals coming from Carl Morlese, Andy Smith and Gary Hawkett.

Redhill have struggled with their pitch this season but they managed to play on Tuesday so hopefully their efforts to get the match on this Saturday will be rewarded.  The address of the ground is Kiln Brow, Three Arch Road, Redhill, RH1 5AE (tel:  01737 762129) and there is plenty of parking available at the ground.

Since relegation last year from the Ryman League, the Lobsters have struggled this season and find themselves near the foot of the table although they have games in hand on most of their rivals.  That makes them no less dangerous, of course, and Ashford will doubtless need to be as dogged as they were on Tuesday evening in beating a Chessington side that certainly did not play like a club near the bottom of the table.  In their favour, Ashford now have two consecutive clean sheets behind them and with missing players back and available for selection should be more or less at full strength.  Kick-off will be 3.00 p.m. as usual.

Yesterday evening, the Under-18’s suffered a close defeat at Bedfont Sports, losing by three goals to two.  Ashford led by two goals to one but Bedfont equalised and scored the winner at the death.

 

An unspectacular but solid performance against Chessington & Hook United on Tuesday evening saw Ashford safely into the semi-finals of the Cherry Red Records Premier Challenge Cup, where they are joined by Camberley Town, Farnham Town and, from Division One, Cobham, who managed to do what we couldn’t recently, and beat Westfield.

It was a far more spirited Chessington side that took the field last night and it was fairly clear from the start that a repeat of Ashford’s 7-1 romp in the league was unlikely to be repeated.  As the match progressed though, the Tangerines were starting to carve out the better chances and so it proved, when, in the 29th minute, in-form Dan Fleming scored, following an excellent run and cross from Jack Beadle, who was a handful all evening.  The finish was of some quality.

Ten minutes later it was Fleming again as Ashford doubled the lead.  This time the goal came from a corner kick from Alex Fisher that the visitors struggled to defend and it eventually fell for Fleming to head deftly into the top of the net.

To their credit Chessington certainly did not wither and applied considerable pressure at the start of the second period.  Scott Weight though, playing in an unfamiliar central defensive position, along with Samad Kazi, stood firm and kept the troops marshalled, although Chessington’s Ade Oketoki often looked dangerous in possession.  This was somewhat nullified though by his propensity to stray offside far too readily.

There were chances at both ends and Chessington missed one golden opportunity to pull one back when a simple header was misplaced.  The game became a little feisty but referee Kissi generally had control and with time running out, Ashford looked ever more comfortable.  They should have scored a third goal close to the end when energetic work from Bradley Wainwright saw him cross to Mark Bitmead who had the goal at his mercy but Ashford’s leading scorer fluffed his lines on this occasion, only able to direct his effort into the keeper’s grateful grasp.

It was not one of Ashford’s most classic performances but in terms of game management there could be few complaints and the semi-final draw is now awaited.  Supporters voted heavily in favour of Max Webb, restored last night to the starting line-up, as Ashford’s “man of the match” and he deserved it for a strong and determined performance in midfield.

Next up is a trip to Redhill on Saturday, when presumably both Will Boye and Josh Andrew will be available for selection, both being cup-tied yesterday evening.  Club skipper Russell Canderton may also be back, after missing out last night with a knock.

Secretary Geoff Knock has confirmed that Ashford’s home match against Enfield Town in the quarter-final of the Middlesex Charity Cup will take place on Tuesday 5 April.

Ashford beat Frimley Green by three goals to one on Saturday in what became a fairly routine victory, despite the fact that Frimley took the lead in the 4th minute.  A long run by full back Sam Boultwood went unchecked and although Russell Canderton did well to prevent the ball going into the net he could only divert it back across goal for Boultwood to finish.

It was frustrating as the goal came immediately after a strong run from Samad Kazi who set up Dan Fleming whose goal bound effort beat the keeper but rebounded off the line from a defender who knew little about it

At that point Frimley did not look like a team possibly set for relegation.  Their main tactic seemed to be the long ball and with the strong breeze behind them, Ashford endured some uncomfortable moments.  Referee Donaldson seemed to allow a number of questionable tackles go unpunished and Ashford were rattled for a while.

Unlike last week’s match though, one always sensed that Ashford would come good in this one and the equaliser was not too long in coming, courtesy of Fleming, who has now hit 30 goals this season in all competitive matches for the Club.  One has to go back to season 2000-2001 for when that feat was last achieved, by Tony Nolan.

There were no further goals before half-time but Ashford were looking ever more dangerous with the elements now in their favour and it was not long into the second period before they took the lead through an excellent looping header from Jack Beadle,  following a deep cross from Alex Fisher.

Frimley looked a beaten side from that moment and a third goal came from the spot courtesy of Mark Bitmead, who is not too far short of 30 goals himself for the season.  Frimley did not help themselves when Boultwood was dismissed for a reckless challenge on Kazi, which saw the Ashford player having to leave the field to be replaced by Ryan Dearden.  Quite frankly one or two other visiting players were quite fortunate not to suffer the same fate.

There were no further goals but it was a comfortable enough victory and Ashford now have a week off before they entertain Knaphill next Saturday, kick-off 3.00 p.m.

In the meantime, there are two matches at Short Lane this week.  On Monday evening, Ashford’s new ladies’ side for next season will play a curtain raiser against FK Viking Ladies, whose men’s side play in the Norwegian Premier Division.  Entry is entirely free and kick-off is 7.45 p.m.

On Wednesday evening the Under-18’s will be at home to Staines Town U18 in the Ryman Youth League and will hope to emulate their 2-1 victory at Wheatsheaf Lane a month or so ago.

On Saturday, Ashford have their first home match for some time, when they will welcome Frimley Green FC to Short Lane for their first senior visit since December 1993, 21 years ago.  Ashford managed to win 6-2 on that day, thanks to a rare hatrick from Ian Miles, plus two from Keith Hoad and one from Lee Holman

With Frimley close to the bottom of the table at the moment after something of a turbulent season, one might be forgiven for anticipating a similar score line but a quick look at our visitors’ recent fortunes will quickly dispel that idea.  Since appointing a new manager in January, Frimley have done far better and it is unlikely that too many of the players we faced in our first encounter early this season will be on show on Saturday.  Before last Saturday when they were narrowly defeated in the “six-pointer” at home to Guildford City, they had won four league matches in a row, that run including victories over both Windsor and Badshot Lea.

The good news for Ashford is that, hopefully both Mitchal Gough and Dan Fleming will be fit to return.  Dan was less than happy we understand with the writers’ comments on the Hanworth Villa match so let the matter be hastily put right.  One of the main reasons that we have done so much better this season than last, is that we have had strikers this season who can put the ball in the net, and top of the tree at the moment, following his hatrick on Tuesday, before having to go off, is Dan, with no less than 29 goals so far.  Compare that to last season when our top scorer only managed 6 and you can see that, far from being maligned, Dan is highly regarded by all for the huge part he has played in turning our fortunes around.

Kick-off is 3.00 p.m.

Other news is that the Under-18’s put up a spirited performance last night, despite going down 1-3 to Hampton & Richmond.

We are looking for Under-14 girls to play football for us next season as the current team, playing at Under-13 level has been unable to field a full team in recent matches.  If you are interested, get in touch with team manager Louise Munns on 07769 330917.

Still with the girls, a reminder that our new adult ladies side play their first match in Ashford colours next Monday, kick-off 7.45 p.m. against the ladies side of Norwegian Premier Club, Viking SK from Norway.  We hope to make it an occasion for all concerned and will be pleased to see as many people down as possible.  As stated, entrance is entirely free and there will be a social gathering afterwards.

The training area on the back side (not the pitch used for matches) will be out of bounds from Friday 17 April  and fenced off soon afterwards as work to renovate and provide a completely refurbished training area will commence shortly afterwards.  Lorries will be in and out delivering materials for a while so please take extra care.

Finally, thanks to Simon Munns, the repairs to the fencing are close to completion, prior to the deadline of 31 March, so a big acknowledgment to Simon and those who have helped him, especially Dan Butler, Chris Canderton, who procured the new panels, Stuart and Chad Beadle and probably others (sorry for missing anyone out).  Well done also to Dan Butler for fitting out the new medical room.

It is hard to know what to expect from Ashford at the moment, even during the course of one match.

Indeed Tuesday evening was a classic demonstration that in football, you never know what is going to happen.  Last night Ashford produced a first half of stunning quality at times against Mole Valley SCR, turning round three goals ahead when with slightly better luck and finishing it could easily have been six or seven.  Mole Valley’s only real threat had come from the speedy Michael Campbell up front but he had little support. 

All three goals came from Dan Fleming.  On Saturday he couldn’t have hit a cow’s bottom with a banjo but his finishing last night was superb.  That said, the first one was a tad fortunate as, latching on to a long through ball from Mark Bitmead, playing in an unusual midfield role, he sent in a shot that should have been saved but the Mole Valley keeper allowed it to slip under his body.  It was about his only mistake though as he went on to make any number of excellent saves as the match progressed.

That first goal came on just four minutes and it was two six minutes later again courtesy of Fleming.  After knocking on the door regularly throughout the rest of the half, with Samad Kazi hitting the woodwork twice, and Bitmead once, not to mention all the saves, a third goal arrived on 40 minutes when a thunderous shot from Tommy Brunton rebounded from the bar and Fleming was on hand to steer home another cool finish.

Ashford then made it four just three minutes into the second half, when it looked as if Russell Canderton got the decisive touch (although that is subject to correction) and it seemed game over.  In the space of just under 15 minutes though it all threatened to go wrong for the visitors.  Firstly Mole Valley pulled a goal back from the spot when Bobby Dormer was adjudged to have fouled Campbell.  From the writer’s admittedly distant position it looked like six of one and half a dozen of the other but the penalty was given and Campbell made no mistake.  Dormer was unluckily cautioned.

Dan Fleming then sustained a knock and had to leave the field, followed a few minutes later by another foul from Dormer, who had been playing supremely well, and he was dismissed from the field for a second caution.  Ashford steadied, with the reliable Rob Curtis on for Fleming but suddenly referee Davis was at it again, awarding a second penalty for Mole Valley, this time for alleged handball by Curtis.  It was a low cross that was intercepted and Mr. Davis’ explanation afterwards was that the Ashford player had his hands down, which is normally a good reason for not awarding a penalty!  Tyler Tobin made a tremendous save form the spot kick but Campbell  was first to the rebound and tapped home.

Suddenly it was 4-2 and with Ashford down to ten, the home side suddenly felt, unlikely as it had seemed, that they could get something from the match.  Some dogged Ashford defending was required for a while and the Tangerines were extremely grateful on 81 minutes to the lively Kazi whose pace saw him latch on to another defence splitting pass and then win the ball in a tackle with the onrushing home keeper, who injured himself, as Kazi got up to stoke the ball into an empty net.

The highly vocal Ashford support once again relaxed but the home side had the last word when Campbell became the second player on the pitch to record a hatrick.  It was tough luck on Tobin as he made a tremendous initial save, only for Campbell to poke home with Ashford seemingly mesmorised as the ball bounced invitingly for someone to clear, before Campbell nipped in.

That made it 5-3 to Ashford with nine minutes on the clock, plus stoppage time.  There was always going to be plenty of that, following the injury to the home keeper, who had bravely played on, and referee Davis ensured that there could be no complaints from the home side by playing a full seven minutes worth before the match was finally over, with five goals and three points in the bag, albeit at a cost for Ashford.

Ashford return to Short Lane on Saturday after six games on the road, when Frimley Green are the visitors.  More on that later in the week and don’t forget that Ashford’s Under-18’s are in action this evening (Wednesday).  The lads have not pulled up any trees this season it has to be said, but preparations are now beginning as we look to next season and your support would be welcomed.

Also, the work to repair the fencing around the ground is progressing under master craftsman Simon Munns and is resuming this afternoon around 3.00 p.m.  If anyone has a few spare hours and can offer a bit of labour please come down.

 

It is good that Ashford have a midweek match to hopefully get Saturday’s turgid affair out of mind.  The match is on Tuesday evening when the Tangerines travel to Cobham FC to play against their tenants, Mole Valley SCR, who incidentally, are changing their name to Sutton Common Rovers next season.

Mole Valley have also endured some indifferent form lately with just one league win from their last nine outings and on Saturday, they fared a goal worse than Ashford, losing by 4 goals to nil at the hands of Knaphill FC.  They were a fairly lively bunch at Short Lane earlier in the season though, despite losing 1-3, and no matches can be taken lightly in this league, as is evidenced by one or two of Ashford’s results against some of the lower placed teams in recent weeks. 

Two ex-Ashford players may be turning out for Mole Valley.  Kieran Wright left us earlier this season when Ashford supporters were quite disappointed to see him depart, whilst the other is Arafat Kabuye, who you may remember came on as a sub up at Bedworth United in his only match for the club back in August 2010..

Kick-off is 7.45 p.m. and the address of the ground is Cobham FC, Leg of Mutton Field, Downside Bridge Road, Cobham, KT11 1AA.  There is a small car park available and it should also be possible to park on the lane leading up to the ground.

The Under-18’s are also in action this week and will welcome Hampton & Richmond to Short Lane on Wednesday evening, kicking off at 7.45 p.m.  

 

This last week will not be remembered with any affection by anyone associated with Ashford!

Following the unlucky last minute defeat at the hands of Molesey in midweek, Ashford capitulated on Saturday at Hanworth Villa, losing by three goals to nil.  The scoreline is misleading in terms of possession with the Villans scoring two of their three goals right at the death, as Ashford threw caution to the wind in an attempt to find an equaliser to Hanworth’s first goal on the stroke of half-time but we all know the result is all that counts in the end.   

The weather has now turned with the result that the pitch was hard and not a little bumpy and this together with the stiff and very cold breeze that persisted throughout, made it difficult for either side to play much football.  Ashford were without key players in Mark Bitmead and Mitchal Gough but Elliott Jones was fit again and came on later from the bench.

In terms of possession Ashford had more of it throughout the first half but neither keeper was ever seriously threatened.  Three free kicks awarded to Ashford just outside the area,  gave the away supporters some hope given past heroics but Dan Fleming didn’t have his shooting boots on and all were safely collected by Terry Buss in the home goal.

On the stroke of half-time Ashford conceded a goal.  There seemed no particular danger but sloppy defending allowed a cross to come in from the right flank, and Hanworth’s Dale Marvell glanced it home at the near post.  It was a good finish.

The second half saw Hanworth often putting all eleven men behind the ball to protect their lead, which they did, if not with ease, yet certainly comfortably, as despite the vast  amount of possession, Ashford never really looked like redeeming the situation and then came the final twist as Hanworth rubbed it in with two goals in the closing seconds.  Well played to them, they took their chances when Ashford failed to create hardly a single opportunity of note.

It never sounds good when a beaten team criticises a referee and it certainly made no difference to the result but Mr. Hurst seemed to lose his way after a positive start, awarding free kicks the wrong way and failing to clamp down on the time wasting, not helped by only two match balls being provided.  All teams are prone to do it when they are holding a narrow lead near the end, not least Ashford, but when will referees learn that the only way to clamp down on it is by issuing a card or two rather than keep tapping their wrist, which fools no-one.   Mr. Hurst added on five minutes of stoppage time but just one incident took just about that long to sort out and there was another embarrassing and prolonged hold-up whilst a ball was retrieved.  Neither were Ashford impressed with the fact that they received four yellow cards to Hanworth’s one.

With all the other leading clubs losing or only able to draw it was a shame that Ashford chose to have such a spectacular off day but it is gone now and one senses there will  be a determination to put on a much better display when the Tangerines go to Mole Valley on Tuesday evening before a home game beckons on Saturday.  More tomorrow about Tuesday’s match.

 

Ashford go to Hanworth Villa on Saturday and whilst a glance at the league table, with Villa second from bottom, suggests an easy match, Ashford know only too well it will be anything but.  Indeed it is a mystery to most clubs in the CCL that Hanworth Villa have been at the wrong end all season, after some of their exploits, especially in cup competitions in recent seasons.

Ashford really needed to reign Molesey in on Tuesday evening to keep their championship hopes up but failed to do so when the hosts scored a last minute goal which gave them all three points but, as has been said, there is still 20-25% of the season to go for most clubs in terms of matches and Ashford, who should be at full strength tomorrow, certainly won’t be giving up yet.

Villa play at Rectory Meadows, Park Road, Hanworth, TW13 6PN and there is plenty of parking at the ground. 

In recent matches Hanworth Villa have picked up points, including a 4-0 win at Bedfont Sports on Tuesday and a 1-1 draw at Epsom & Ewell but were heavily beaten by 6 goals to 1 at home to Windsor a fortnight ago and they lost the proverbial six pointer 1-2 at Guildford last Saturday.  One player to possibly look out for, although he doesn’t seem to have played for the Club recently, is ex-Ashford striker Scott Todd.  It seems a long time ago that Scott was named “Step 4 Player of the Year” throughout the country, when we won promotion form the Southern League Div. One West but he was a stalwart for Ashford playing well over 300 matches for the Club and scoring over 100 goals.

Kick-off tomorrow is 3.00 p.m. as usual.

Ashford have taken on a new Ladies side for next season and they hope to be playing at a higher level than the previous ladies team.

With County approval, they have a historic first match in Ashford’s colours, when they will play against Viking FK Ladies, from Stavanger in Norway on Monday 30 March at Short Lane, kick-off 7.45 p.m.

Viking FK men play in the Norwegian Premier Division and have played more Premier matches than any other club in Norway.  They have won the national championship on eight occasions and in 2002-2003 they knocked Chelsea, no less, out of the UEFA Cup.  If all that has rubbed off on their Ladies’ team, our new side could not have picked a more difficult match in which to start their Ashford career.

The Norwegian Ladies themselves that will be visiting us were a national top five Under-16 side but will now be playing in the adult National Ladies Division 3 next season.

We shall try to make a night of it to welcome both our own new team, and our foreign visitors, and it will be good to see a decent attendance for what should be a very interesting match.  Entrance to the match will be FREE.

An intriguing match away to Molesey on Tuesday evening saw Ashford defeated by the only goal of the game, scored in the final minute of the 90 by Stafford Palmer, from a corner kick.

It was certainly a disappointment for the Tangerines who had rarely looked like conceding and who, especially in the first half, had created a number of chances to go ahead.  Bobby Dormer was the stand-out Ashford “man of the match” with a superb and disciplined defensive display, especially during the second half when Molesey, although not dominating play, certainly enjoyed significantly more possession than they had in the first period.

Ashford were without the influential MItchal Gough, who had not recovered from a knock sustained against Windsor on Saturday, but brought in Samad Kazi,  generally playing wide on the left flank where he was perhaps an unanticipated threat to Molesey, who clearly had a plan to shackle both Mark Bitmead and Dan Fleming.

The match as a whole was an absorbing contest, without hitting the heights football wise, with both defences generally on top and eager to get the ball away from their penalty areas at the first sign of danger.

One way of looking at it though if Ashford had been offered away draws at Windsor and Molesey in this little period of extremely tough fixtures, they may well have accepted but in the end a win and a defeat gives them maybe a point more than would have been acceptable.  It does mean though that the championship is now Molesey’s to lose although they also face some tough games in their 10 match run-in, which is, of course, exactly 25% of their season, including their return match against Camberley on 18 April, so no-one will be giving up yet in the Ashford camp but it is obviously tougher after last night’s result.  Things can change very quickly though in football.

Ashford make the short trip to meet Hanworth Villa on Saturday for the first time this season.  They enjoyed a resounding win at Bedfont Sports last night and are fighting a relegation battle, which certainly wouldn’t have been expected at the start of the season.  Ashford will be well aware that they can expect a very difficult match at The Ranch but more on that later in the week.

This evening, Wednesday, Ashford’s Under-18’s head down the road to meet Bedfont Sports, whom we congratulate upon winning the Middlesex Senior Youth Cup last week, with a Cup Final win over Wingate & Finchley.

Also the very first match for our new Ladies Team next season arrives on Monday 30 March when they will play a friendly against a Norwegian Ladies side, at Short Lane, kick-off 7.45 p.m.  More on that one tomorrow.

Ashford’s third “big” game in a row arrives on Tuesday evening, when the Tangerines make the short trip to meet Molesey.

The Moles have enjoyed a highly successful season to date but have been hampered to a degree by numerous postponements especially at their own Walton Road ground, as a result of which they find themselves with matches to catch up on all their main rivals at the top of the table, although if they were to win them all, they would indeed head the table themselves.  Like ourselves, they have also reached the semi-final of the Surrey Senior Cup but unlike ourselves, they are still in it and will play at home to Metropolitan Police next Tuesday.  We genuinely wish them every success and hope they get through to play against Merstham in the Final.

Ashford for their part will be stirred by the performance at Windsor on Saturday and will come into tomorrow evening’s match unbeaten in league matches since the beginning of February and with four wins and a draw from their last five league matches.  Elliott Jones is still injured but other than that Ben Murray’s side should be at full strength for the encounter.  Molesey have a similar record, their only blip being a home defeat recently against mid-table Badshot Lea, so we could have a classic match on our hands tomorrow evening.

That said, nobody will win the League tomorrow whatever the result.  It will certainly give the winners additional confidence but with Ashford having another eight matches left after tomorrow and Molesey ten, there will still be plenty to play for, so it is better not to build the game up to false heights.  Deviating for a minute, It is possibly against the odds now but were the Tangerines to win the League, there is little doubt that they would be back in the Southern League.  Molesey though are probably on the north-Western fringe of the Ryman Div 1 South boundary (indeed the Ryman League tried a few seasons ago to make them play in Ryman North), so it is interesting to speculate into which Step 4 Division they may go were they to win the League,  It is unlikely on balance but they could also find themselves, just as we had to, travelling up to the Midlands in the Southern League (Central) which is OK to be honest as most of the clubs in that part of the world are friendly enough and it is certainly an experience, even though it takes all day or sometimes, all night.

Back to the present, or rather the past, Molesey won the first encounter this season at Short Lane, by the only goal of the game and frankly deserved to do so by a greater margin as they were much the better side on the day.  Ashford, therefore, have something to prove tomorrow.  That said, whether it can be regarded as an omen or not is a moot point, but in six previous matches at Short Lane, including this season’s against the Moles, Ashford have yet to record a win.  At Molesey though, in five previous matches, Ashford have only tasted defeat once, an odd statistic overall.

The address of the ground is 412 Walton Road, East Molesey, KT8 2JG.  There is a small car park which fills up very quickly so get there early if you want a space.  Kick-off is 7.45 p.m.

Finally just a quick note that this year’s Junior Tournament will be staged over the weekend of the 13th and 14th June.  Full details of the event will appear on the website tomorrow, along with various other event dates.

Ashford were involved in their second 4-3 result in five days but this time they came out on top beating Windsor at Stag Meadow by four goals to three.

There was plenty of good football on display on Windsor’s immaculate surface but the match possibly wasn’t quite as exciting as the scoreline suggests.  Nevertheless, Ashford made an excellent start, with the home side looking vulnerable at the back, especially to the ball over the top but one or two incredible misses, especially one by Dan Fleming when he somehow blazed over from not much more than a yard out, kept the scoreline blank for a while.

Mark Bitmead also had an excellent chance when he was clean through and had only to lob the ball over the onrushing keeper but miscued and lobbed it gently into the custodian’s hands.  The first goal did arrive though before too long and this time good work by Jack Beadle and Bitmead led to a scramble and Fleming made up for his earlier miss by cheekily back heeling the ball into the goal from very close range.

Windsor though came into their own and it was Ashford’s turn to defend.  Sadly they did not do it all that well and by half-time the situation had changed with Windsor scoring twice to go in with a 2-1 lead. One of the goals was a simple affair, headed home from a Rob Lazarczuk missile of a throw in.

Ashford felt that they did not deserve to be behind and promptly did something about it, as Mark Bitmead equalised some four minutes into the second half.  The same player then gave Ashford the lead soon after and Fleming then rounded the keeper only to see his effort cleared off the line.

The miss may have been costly as the quick thinking Lazarczuk launched another long throw into the box, which caught the visiting defence asleep and another simple goal ensued to level the scores at three apiece.  Everyone expected more goals but there was only one more and once again it was Fleming swivelling to drive home.

Ashford had a determination about them to hold on this time, which they did fairly comfortably and Bitmead looked as if he should have had a penalty as Windsor keeper Courtnage came racing out again succeeding only in bringing the forward down who was otherwise clean through but it was not deemed to be a foul.

Ashford were satisfied enough with the points with Mitchal Gough winning the Chad Beadle “Man of the Match “ award, with another elegant display.  Bobby Dormer added some steel to Ashford’s defending whilst Max Webb and Tommy Brunton were prominent at times.

Referee Heward, who had a decent match overall, was consistent in his leniency, letting Mark Bitmead off with a fairly violent shove at one point and also Windsor’s Kane Jones who belted the ball at a prostrate Tom Brunton.  It was not generally a feisty match though with both teams always trying to play football.

The three points were vital, with both Camberley and Molesey also recording away wins at Cove and Bedfont Sports respectively, both by the odd goal.  There are a number of “crunch” games coming up in the near future with Ashford travelling to Molesey on Tuesday evening, kick-off 7.45 p.m.  More on that one tomorrow.

Work to repair/replace the broken fence panels at the ground is starting on Tuesday afternoon at 3.30 p.m.  If anyone can get down to lend a hand, please get along to the ground

Staines Lammas FC have advised us that they do not intend to renew their ground share arrangement next season.  As a result we are looking for a new ground sharing partner next year.  Any club interested is welcome to contact the Club on 01784 440613.

We have enjoyed a generally very successful partnership with Lammas over several seasons and we wish them luck in the future.

What’s gone, gone and Ashford now have to put the County Cup defeat behind them and prepare for the visit to Windsor FC on Saturday.  With all the top five suffering unexpected defeats in the League recently, the championship race looks far more open than it did a couple of weeks ago and at the moment there is still everything to play for.

After seeing what a good side Windsor can be in the home match against them when, similar to Tuesday, Ashford threw away a half-time lead only to go down 2-3, it was a surprise to see them losing to both Frimley and, less so perhaps, given the respective positions in the table, Spelthorne in the League in the last three weeks.  In between though, they polished off Hanworth Villa by 6 goals to 1 so who knows what to expect on Saturday.  Windsor may now regard their promotion hopes as dashed but that won’t make Saturday’s task any easier and like every other club, they will fight to the end.

In the first half at Merstham on Tuesday, Ashford looked a cut above Step 5 with their slick passing and absolute determination, and that was against probably the best side they will face this season.  The trick is obviously to do it for the full 90 minutes and once again the Tangerines will have a superb surface upon which to play on Saturday.  Bobby Dormer will be available again after being cup-tied on Tuesday whilst Elliott Jones should be fully fit, hopefully leaving Ben Murray with a near full strength squad.

The address of the ground is Stag Meadow, St. Leonards Road, Windsor, SL4 3DR but a word of warning.  Apparently the average Sat Nav cannot be relied upon to take you to the exact spot.  There are excellent directions on the Windsor web site but from Ashford, the best way is to go down the Staines by-pass towards Junction 13 of the M25.  When you get there come down the slip road to the roundabout and then take the3rd exit along the A308 towards Windsor, past the Runnymede Hotel and then the Bells of Ouseley.

Follow that road for a couple of miles and after crossing the Long Walk, turn left at the roundabout as if you were going away from Windsor itself.  Than take the 1st right (Bolton Road), turn left at the top and the ground is then a little way on the left hand side.  There is ample parking available.  It shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes from Short Lane.

Having lost two matches in a row after going unbeaten for so long, Camberley have a tough trip to Cove on Saturday, so 1st plays 2nd.  Cove will doubtless be smarting following their stoppage time loss at Molesey on Tuesday whilst the Moles themselves are away at Bedfont Sports.

Well done to the Under-18’s on Wednesday, who drew one apiece with Camberley.  The visitors scored in the second half but Ashford equalised two minutes later.

Just a reminder that the next Meat Draw is on Sunday at 3.00 pm and tickets are available now at the Club.  Thanks go to Simon Munns who won twice last Sunday and has donated one of the prizes back to the Club to go into the draw on Sunday, at around 3.00 p.m.  Don’t forget that the winner of the 1st prize will also receive a bottle of wine if he or she is in the bar at the time of the draw.

Also, manager Ben Murray is organising another Race Night to take place on Friday 10 April.  The evening starts at 7.00 p.m. with the first race at 7.40 p.m.  There is also going to be a Grand National sweepstake with horses at £5 each and £100 to the winning owner.

It is always galling to go out of a cup competition at the semi-final stage but to do so after leading 3-0 at half-time is particularly frustrating.  Such was Ashford’s fortune on Tuesday evening, when a rejuvenated Merstham side turned disaster into triumph.

Ashford got off to a great start when, just four minutes in Mitchal Gough shot from distance from a free kick which Brannon Daly in the Merstham goal was unable to deal with, resulting in a scramble.   Mark Bitmead saw his effort cleared from the line but Max Webb (not Gough as shown on the Merstham site) was on hand to force it home.

Ashford doubled their lead on 21 minutes when a home defender gave the ball away giving Jack Beadle a chance.  His effort was saved but the predatory Bitmead was on hand to sweep home.

Nine minutes later it was three as Webb out on the right flank attempted to cross the ball but it spun off his foot and ended up hitting the woodwork and going in.

At this point Ashford looked a good bet to progress but there is no doubt that Merstham are a formidable team at the moment and the last five minutes or so before the break saw Ashford endure a few uncomfortable moments.

A very obvious change in tactics saw Merstham take over the match in the second half.  Gone was the tapping about of the first half which had often played into Ashford’s hands.  The long ball took over and it worked within a minute as Merstham reduced the arrears through Fabio Saraiva.  In many ways that goal was the killer.  If Ashford had been able to hold out for longer it may well have thwarted Merstham’s determination but it served as a massive spur for the home side, and the whole of the second half saw Ashford fighting a rearguard action.

Try as they did, the visitors, not helped by a series of decisions going against them, could not withstand the now rampant display from the home side and the writing was on the wall when further goals from Saraiva on 70 and 74 minutes brought Merstham level.  The equaliser came from the spot when Tyler Tobin made probably an ill judged dash almost to the edge of his penalty area to punch but was adjudged to have shoved his opponent.  In another game, it wouldn’t have been given but the writing had been on the wall for some time before that and the winning goal on 78 minutes, again from Saraiva, was not a surprise.

In the final ten minutes Ashford did at last steady the ship to a degree and sub Samad Kazi came close, as did Gough but it was not to be.  The Tangerines though can look back on a super run this season, with the scalps of both Woking and Leatherhead in the bag and to lose to a powerful Merstham side, very much in the hat for promotion to the Ryman Premier Division, by the odd goal, was no disgrace, even though the manner of the defeat was obviously disappointing.

Ashford need to take the positives from the match, and there were plenty, into the next two crucial league games away at Windsor on Saturday, and Molesey next Tuesday.  Last night’s league matches saw Molesey winning by the odd goal in the crunch match against Cove but Cove retained top spot as Camberley lost their second match in a row, this time away at Westfield, whilst Windsor also went down, losing 1-2 at Spelthorne.

The writer did not realise that the Under-18’s were in action twice this week but can report that a much improved display against Hampton on Monday saw another defeat but by the only goal of the game.  This evening  (Wednesday) the lads are back at Short Lane against Camberley Town U18, whilst the big European match between Chelsea and PSG will be showing in the clubhouse.

Thank you to those Ashford supporters who made the effort to get to Merstham last night.  Please come and support the side again on Saturday when we make the shorter trip to Windsor.  More on that one later in the week.