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After an impressive start to life back at Step 4, Ashford failed to rise to the occasion on Bank Holiday Monday, losing to Egham Town by three goals to one.

Enforced changes meant that Kav Keadell made his debut in goal, with Tyler Tobin sidelined due to an injury sustained at work, whilst Romario Jonas was also absent, following a knock on Saturday.  Will Boye, back at the club, partnered Samad Kazi in central defence.

In the opening period Ashford never got going with Egham dominating possession and were it not for some poor finishing could have had more than one goal to their credit, scored in the 13th minute from a move that had to be admired, as a long cross field pass eluded Alex Fisher, leaving plenty of time for a cross and a simple finish by Brendan Matthews

Ashford did gradually haul themselves back into the match but apart from a Max Webb effort cleared off the line, chances were rare until right on the stroke of half-time, a trade mark free kick from Dan Fleming levelled the scores as it curled impressively into the top corner. 

Ashford were fortunate to be on level terms at the break but it was hoped that the goal would be the turning point.  That did not prove to be the case even though the match was more even in the second period.  Egham restored their lead on 73 minutes through Reece York, who had played one match for the Tangerines in the past when on loan from Slough, and they made the match effectively safe 15 minutes later when Matthews netted his second.

Ashford finally shook off their lethargy and did their best to retrieve the situation in the final minutes, and on another day they might have done it, as Fleming hit the woodwork twice in rapid succession with two superb efforts.  The bottom line though was that the home club played better overall and deserved the points.

Generally though, Ashford have acquitted themselves well this season and after dominating the match against Aylesbury on Saturday, this game against the best side they have faced this season, will hopefully be no more than a hiccup.  Ashford’s “man of the match” was Samad Kazi as voted by supporters, never more deserved than on this occasion.

Matters will not get easier though as it is another away match this coming Saturday, this time in the FA Cup against new opponents, Herne Bay from Division One South of the Ryman League.  More on that one later in the week.

In the meantime, following the thrilling match last week against Staines Town, the Under-18’s are at home this evening to Bedfont Sports U18 in the Lucas-Fettes Cup, kick-off 7.45 p.m.

Whilst ours is far from the only pitch looking somewhat stressed at present, club officials met with groundsman Steve Honey last night and the treatment to kill the weeds that have sprung up is waiting and ready to go as soon as we get some significant rain.  Pitch watering is to be stepped up and Steve is confident that the pitch will soon be back to the standard that we were so proud of last season.

A solitary goal from full back Alex Fisher was enough to secure all three points for the Tangerines on Saturday against visitors Aylesbury.

It is fair to say, on this occasion, that the scoreline did not reflect the overall possession as Ashford were almost totally dominant in the first half, spurning chance after chance, although mention must be made of the Aylesbury keeper who pulled off some incredible saves, including a penalty hit by Mark Bitmead, which he somehow kept out despite the effort being low and down by the post.

One wondered if Ashford would come to rue all the missed opportunities in the first half and the match was certainly more even in the second, but Aylesbury rarely looked as if they would make the breakthrough and the only goal arrived on 77 minutes when Bitmead was adjudged to have been fouled some ten yards outside the penalty area.  Fisher stepped up and for once the keeper was beaten as the effort went low into the net.

The final period of the match saw Aylesbury having their best period but the efforts were somewhat frantic and Ashford safely saw the match out to leave them tucked in nicely at this early stage in 4th place.

The second match of the Bank Holiday programme sees Ashford back at neighbours Egham this Bank Holiday  Monday afternoon.  Egham enjoyed a superb season last time round, coming so close to promotion and Ashford will expect a very tough match.  It did not seem though that there were any fresh injuries picked up on Saturday and with the exception of Bayley Mummery on holiday and possibly Russell Canderton, who was nursing a strain, there should be a full squad to pick from.

The club is aware that the surface at Short Lane, whilst perfectly playable, has not reached the heights of last season which saw the pitch receiving a highly commended award in the National FA competition.  We are making efforts to understand why this is the case and we will hopefully be able to provide further information later this week.  Also, the new kit, so kindly sponsored by Hitchcock and King, is now due to arrive in midweek, just in time for the FA Cup match at Herne Bay next Saturday.  Please remember that if you wish to travel on the coach, you need to put your name on the list in the clubhouse, as if it is not financially viable, we will not be able to run one.

Ashford resume their Evostik League campaign on Saturday with a home match against Aylesbury FC.  League tables don’t mean too much still, at this early stage but our opponents will arrive in 13th position, having won one, drawn one and lost two so far.

There have been nine previous matches between our clubs, all in the Southern League including a League Cup tie.  Honours are even with both clubs having won three each, although our last victory was back in September 2011, when we managed a 4-1 scoreline, thanks to goals from Ashley Lodge, Scott Weight, Mark Bitmead and Dan Brown.  The other side of the coin shows a 0-5 deficit at Aylesbury in September 2013 when we played rather badly, as the score suggests.

One player to have played for both clubs is Adam Logie, who never gave anything but his best for the Tamgerines in the 120 matches in which he featured.

On Monday afternoon (kick-off 3.00 p.m.) we make the short trip to Egham Town for a very local derby.  Again it will be good to renew rivalry with our neighbours who looked last season at one point that they were guaranteed for further promotion but just lost out in the play-offs.

The Under-18’s under new manager Mark Oliver got their season going on Wednesday evening with a very creditable draw against Staines Town, with both sides scoring four goals.  Ours came from Lewis Haldane (2), Robbie Joseph (pen) and Isaac Mplana.  It was a strange game in some respects in that after five minutes, with lightning raging overhead, the floodlights went out,, no doubt due to the electrical conditions and it took some time for them to come back on with play resuming at 8.18 p.m.

Ashford roared into a two goal lead, both from Lewis, but Staines pulled one back just before half-time and quickly equalised after the break.  Ashford then had their backs against the wall for long periods and it was no surprise when Staines went ahead.  The Tangerines rallied and after being denied what looked a stone bonker penalty, they were then awarded one for apparent handball.  Robbie made no mistake and when Isaac coolly put us ahead with less than five to go, it looked as if we would win.  As always though, Staines are invariably decent at this level and they pulled one back right at the death, leaving the match deadlocked at four apiece.

 

The draw for the Middlesex Charity Cup has been released today and Ashford will be away to Southall in the 1st Round.  Southall ground share at Hanwell Town so nobody will be too disappointed about a return to Reynolds Field, if the pitch remains in the same condition as when we played there last week.

There is clearly some embargo upon us receiving home draws in any competition at the moment as, were we to beat Southall, we would be away to North Greenford United in the 2nd Round, who are also our opponents in the Senior Cup where we have a rare home draw.

Ashford negitiated a tricky FA Cup tie in deepest Gloucestershire on Saturday coming away from South & West Division side Shortwood United with a 2-0 victory.

Finding the ground and successfully navigating the narrow road up to it took a bit of doing but we received a warm and friendly welcome from the Gloucestershire side who only three seasons ago had reached the 1st Round Proper of the competition.

In awful weather for August, wet and windy, neither side looked over penetrative in the first half.   Shortwood probably had a little more of the match in terms of possession but apart from a couple of goalmouth scrambles at both ends, 0-0 was about right at half-time.

There was an improvement in the play in the second half with Ashford having as much of the game as their hosts but thoughts were very much drifting towards a replay at Short Lane on Tuesday.  In the last ten minutes though the play became more intense and Shortwood were unfortunate to lose their central defender, sent off for a second yellow card.  Whether or not the new initiatives at higher levels have found their way down to this level is hard to say but it is looking more and more as if just about every tackle carries the risk of a yellow card and in that sense this match was reminiscent of the game at Hanwell on Tuesday.  The referee was fit, up with play and controlled the game well but he simply didn’t need to dish out all the cards that were incurred, in a match with only one foul that caught the eye, that being Scott Weight’s on a Shortwood player on the halfway line.  It would have been OK but the ball was some ten yards away and our player was possibly fortunate with that one to escape with only a yellow.  All the others looked harsh.

It looked to the writer that Shortwood, now down to ten, were keen to try to force the issue and probably didn’t over fancy a midweek trip to Ashford.  Ashford though had introduced three vary capable substitutes in the shape of Tommy Brunton, Bailey Mummery and Jack Beadle and finally were able to take control.  It was Beadle who made the breakthrough weaving his way past three defenders before swivelling and firing home with just four minutes of normal time to go.

Shortwood had no option now other than to throw caution to the wind and inevitably left themselves open at the back and in stoppage time, Mark Bitmead doubled the lead with a delightful chip over the home keeper.

The Ashford “Man of the Match” award went to Samad Kazi, in for Russell Canderton in defence.  Samad was a rock at the back and fully deserving of the award.  Well done also to all the Ashford supporters who made it down to Gloucestershire.

Ashford will now go on to visit Herne Bay (Ryman Division One South) in the 1st Qualifying Round on Saturday 3 September, the latter having beaten East Grinstead by a solitary goal yesterday.  There is no match this midweek for the 1st Team, the next game being at home on Saturday to Aylesbury.  There will be much more on both these matches in due course but the first opportunity to look at our new Under-18 side, under the management of Mark Oliver comes on Wednesday, when Staines Town U18 are the first visitors of the season in the Ryman Youth League, kick-off 7.45 p.m.

There is also a match at Short Lane on Tuesday when British Airways, second in the table after three matches in the Middlesex County League, will hope to preserve their unbeaten record when they take on Kensington Dragons, kick-off 7.45 p.m.

Finally we should like to say thank you to Shortwood United who were a lovely club all round and their hospitality was superb.  Our best wishes go to them for a good season.

  

Manager Ben Murray has strengthened his squad with the signing of Callum O’Sullivan, son of coach Terry O’Sullivan.  Callum is a combative midfield player, aged 19, and was released last season by Queens Park Rangers after being at Loftus Road since his school days.  He is working his way back to full fitness and is likely to be a major asset to Murray’s squad.

On Saturday Ashford make the 96 mile trip into Gloucestershire to play Shortwood United in the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup, with the winners drawn away to East Grinstead or Herne Bay.  Shortwood are fellow members of the Evostick League South but play in the South and Western Division of the competition in which, to date, they have won two and lost two and sit in 13th position in the fledgling table.  On Tuesday evening, whilst we were drawing at Hanwell Town, they lost 0-3 at home to pre-season favourites Hereford.

There will not be any extra time tomorrow and if the scores are level after 90 minutes, there will be a reply at Short Lane on Tuesday evening.

The address of the ground is Meadow Bank, Stroud GL6 0SJ and Shortwood have the following notice on their web site:  All visitors to the ground should note that the access road from Nailsworth to the ground is extremely narrow in parts and is not really suitable for a full size coach.  This is out of the hands of the club and there is nothing we can do about it apart from issue fair warning that teams and supporters may want to consider mini bus or private cars when coming to Meadowbank.

We have taken due notice and the players will largely be travelling by mini-bus, leaving Short Lane at 11.15 (meet 11.00 a.m.).  There is no supporters’ bus but if anyone has room in their car, and is willing to take others, you may like to email Alan Constable (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and the information will be circulated.  The most straightforward route would seem to be to use the M4, leaving at Junction 15 on to the A419.

Ashford do not have too bad a history in the FA Cup, making the 4th Qualifying Round twice and actually appearing in the 1st Round draw on the most recent occasion, following our draw at home to Forest Green Rovers, who were so nearly beaten when Gavin Smith’s effort deep in stoppage time beat the keeper and rolled agonisingly inches wide of the post.  The news that we would be travelling to another non-league side, Team Bath, now defunct, in the 1st Round, were we to get through was something of a downer and we were well beaten by FGR in the replay on the Tuesday evening.  FGR went on to play Derby County in a later round.

Shortwood, though, can better our record, having reached the 1st Round Proper in season 2013-2014 when they went down 0-4 at home to Port Vale.  In an earlier round they had drawn at home to Aldershot but won the replay at the home of the Shots.

Ashford played their full part in an entertaining match at Hanwell Town on Tuesday evening scoring a deserved equaliser at the death, to make the final tally two apiece.

The pitch looked superb in the early evening sunshine and both teams set out to play some excellent controlled passing with very little long ball stuff, certainly in the earlier stages.  Ashford started well and Dan Fleming brought out the best in the home keeper early on.  Hanwell were soon very much in the game though although chances at both ends were at a premium despite the easy on the eye football.  It was the home side who eventually struck the first blow some seven minutes before half-time when a cross seemed to be mishandled by the otherwise excellent Tyler Tobin to leave an easy opportunity for Hanwell’s James Simmonds to crash his shot into the roof of the net.

The second half followed a similar pattern with neither side gaining any real ascendancy but the visitors were always in the match and the equaliser arrived on 69 minutes when Bayley Mummery was upended in the penalty area, leaving Mark Bitmead to duly score from the spot.

For Ashford, Max Webb, making his 100th competitive start for the club, was everywhere and if anyone was having slightly more of it as the match went on it was Ashford, although defences were still largely in control.  With eight minutes on the clock though Hanwell struck what looked as if it would be the killer goal and just to add to Ashford’s chagrin it was an o.g. scored by Romario Jonas whose back header from a harmless looking cross looped over Tobin and found its way into the back of the net with the keeper stranded.

This Ashford squad though are made of strong stuff.  No heads went down as they pushed for an equaliser but it looked to be in vain until the second minutes of stoppage time when a sublime through ball from Ashford “Man of the Match” Webb found Bitmead in some space and Ashford’s trusty striker made no mistake as he firmly planted the ball past the home keeper, for his second goal of the game.

With ten goals and seven points from their opening four matches, all against established Evostick League opposition, Ashford have proved they can compete at this enhanced level following last season’s promotion.  There does seem still to be the occasional avoidable lapse at the back which would otherwise have meant even more points on the board but nevertheless the squad is in a strong position to push on from here.

One slightly disappointing note was that, on an evening when there were very few fouls in a sporting enough match, we picked up four soft cautions which has dented our excellent discipline in the previous matches.  We know Mr. Ellis as he was promoted with us from the CCL and nobody would argue that he is a very good and fit referee but we weren’t happy with any of the bookings on Tuesday.  Two were for kicking the ball away in the split second the whistle went and two were fouls, barely worthy of the name, when the player who fouled Mummery for the penalty was not even spoken to – what was the difference?

Anyway, there is a break from league action on Saturday when we look forward to playing at Shortwood United, in Gloucestershire, a completely new club to us, in the FA Cup.  There will be further details on this one very shortly.

In some ways Ashford could conclude that they were unlucky to lose against Chalfont St Peter on Saturday, in that they enjoyed arguably the clearer chances and also that a fairly crucial refereeing decision went against them later on in the match.  On the other hand, some poor defending which led to a strong Chalfont side scoring twice in three minutes early in the second half and effectively clinching the points, meant that it could equally be said that Ashford did not deserve too much from the match.

Indeed the visitors started strongly and on the overall run of play, deserved their opening goal on 18 minutes although again it could have been defended better.  It came from an extraordinary long throw from Chalfont’s Chris Ellis.  If anyone can throw the ball further than him in the country, we’d like to see him but there was no excuse for Ashford as we knew all about it given his exploits for Camberley last season.  In the nicest sense of the phrase, we thought we’d seen the last of him but sadly not.  It lead to Chalfont’s Dean McDonnell tapping into an empty net.

All this happened shortly after Dan Fleming, seemingly presented with an open goal, was unfortunate that the ball bobbled and his effort went over the bar. Ex-Ashford’s Kofi Lockhart-Adams had also missed a good chance for the visitors.

Ashford though started to come into the match strongly and were good value for their equaliser just before half time, with Mark Bitmead having been very unlucky to have hit the post from a free kick and Max Webb having seen a full blooded drive well saved.  The equaliser looked as if were coming and it arrived just before half-time when Bitmead, fed by Fleming in a tight penalty area, re-acted first and prodded the ball home.

The break came at the wrong time for the Tangerines who started the second period poorly and found themselves conceding two more goals in three minutes to give the visitors a two goal cushion, the scorers being Tom Mendy and Lockhart-Adams, whom the Chalfont directors thought was their man of the match.  It was undeserved possibly on the overall run of play but Chalfont showed exactly what Ashford can expect at this level, with mistakes clearly more likely to be punished than at Step 5.

Manager Ben Murray’s wrath was enough to spur anyone on and Ashford could not be faulted by the way they then did their utmost to retrieve the situation.  Both Tommy Brunton and Jack Beadle came on to good effect and the reward came with ten minutes to go when Kam English sent in a fierce effort, aided by a deflection, which reduced the arrears to a single goal.

A vital decision had gone against Ashford when Bitmead seemed to be utterly clattered by the visiting keeper which on another day would have seen the fortunate custodian sent off but the referee saw it differently.  The Tangerines kept up the pressure right to the end, and a visiting defender did eventually find himself dismissed.  At the end though, Chalfont held out and maintained their record of three wins from three.

The supporters “Ashford Man of the Match” award went to Alex Fisher.

Although disappointed to lose, Ashford have now played three well established Southern League sides and have beaten two of them.  With all the drawn matches on Saturday, it looks like being a competitive season and at this early stage it doesn’t look as if anyone is going to run away with it.

The next encounter is tomorrow evening, away to Hanwell Town.  Given that we are both Middlesex clubs with less than 16 miles between us, it is surprising that we have never played each other in a league match before.  There have been two cup matches, one in the Charity Cup Final back in May 2000 when a solitary Tony Nolan goal gave us victory and one in the Senior Cup a little more recently in December 2008 when three goals, two from Scott Harris and one from Adam Logie gave us a win by three goals to one.

That will mean little tomorrow, with Hanwell clearly a strong side and still unbeaten with two draws and a victory (3-0 at Kidlington) in their opening three matches.  The address of the ground is Reynolds Field, Perivale Lane, Greenford UB6 8TL and whilst in mileage terms it is not too far away, it would be best to leave plenty of time.  There is a large car park

For anyone interested, there is an Under-18 friendly this evening (Monday) at Short Lane when our new side under manager Mark Oliver, will play their equivalents from Chalfont St. Peter, kick-off 7.45 p.m., before starting their Ryman Youth League campaign.

On Saturday the senior side travel to Shortwood United, in Gloucester, fellow members of the Evostick League but in the South & West Division in the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup.  More on that one later in the week.

Following the milestones achieved by Russell Canderon, Mark Bitmead and Tyler Tobin recently, there will be another one against Hanwell tomorrow when, if selected, Max Webb will make his 100th 1st Team competitive start for the club.

 

Chalfont St. Peter are the visitors to Short Lane this afternoon and with both sides having won their opening two matches, a close game would ensue one would think.

Chalfont won their opening home game last Saturday against Petersfield by 4 goals to nil, and the latter then went on to beat Farnborough on Tuesday, although we understand that Farnborough played the night before in a prestige friendly against Crystal Palace.  Following that, on Tuesday, Chalfornt beat Aylesbury by 3 goals to 1, although all four goals came in the closing minutes, two late penalties sealing the points for our visitors after Aylesbury had equalised.

Chalfont’s second penalty was scored by ex-Ashford favourite Kofi Lockhart-Adams and we look forward to seeing him again today along, possibly with Jack Mullan who also played a lot of matches for us.

On Tuesday, with the matches coming thick and fast, we travel to Hanwell Town for the first ever league match between the two sides.  More on that one in due course

Manager Ben Murray has penned the following article for Ashford supporters to formally introduce th enew players this season.

The club would like to officially welcome Max Herbert, Romario Jonas, Kam English, Kavanagh Keadell, Alex Paxton, and Luke Daley to the club for the forthcoming season.

Max Herbert, a midfielder, joins us after his time at Loughborough University, he’s an ex-Brentford academy player, who came on a month’s loan to Ashford from Brentford a few season’s ago.

Romario Jonas is a bright young defender who joins us from Cambridge United academy, he also spent last season at Maidenhead United.

Kameron English, a pacy winger, joins the club from Harrow Borough, he had a brief loan spell at Hanworth Villa last season and scored against us in the Charity Cup semi-final.

Kavanagh Keadell is a young goalkeeper who signs for us after time at QPR and most recently Exeter City, he will provide much needed competition in the goalkeeper position along with Luke Daley, a goalkeeper who has previously been at Hayes & Yeading United and Chertsey Town.

Alex Paxton is a central defender who joins from Moreton Bay United in Australia, he has recently moved to the country and we are awaiting his International Clearance from the FA to allow him to be in contention for selection.

Another welcome signing that supporters will be happy with is the news that Josh Andrew, who was part of the promotion winning side of last season has joined the squad for the season ahead.

We also welcome back Lewis Taylor and Robbie Sitch to the club, who immediately have dual-registered with Step 5 clubs to enable them to get match fitness, with Lewis at Chertsey Town and Robbie at Spelthorne Sports.

Manager Ben Murray added, “I am extremely happy with the squad we have assembled for the season ahead. They are a hungry group that have a great understanding of each other and the new players that have come into the squad have shown the team mentality we expect and have bought into the philosophy being set.

For such a young age, Romario has had a fantastic start to his time here at Ashford and I look forward to his progress. It’s fantastic news to have Josh signed for the season as well.  It’s also great that Lewis is now back from his long-term injury, he has worked very hard to get back to the point of playing and hopefully his match fitness will progress quickly.

We have had a great start to the season, two good solid victories but we know that we must work hard and take each and every game as it comes.  The commitment of the group is there to see, Russell has hit 600 appearances for the club, along with Mark who has 200 and Tyler, at the age of 21 has already got to 150. The experience is there now.”

Nobody will be getting carried away but Ashford can only be pleased with the start they have made to the Evostick season, as they secured another three points on Tuesday evening, beating Marlow by three goals to one, a score line that probably reflected play fairly accurately over the 90 minutes.

It was clear from the start that Marlow presented a greater physical challenge than on Saturday with long balls into the box having to be defended persistently throughout the match but the Tangerines coped well, and the unchanged starting line-up from Saturday more then held their own.

There were chances at both ends but the first half was looking as if it would end without goals.  As it drew to a close though, Ashford went ahead, largely through the good work of Kameron English, who, receiving a long cross field pass from skipper Russell Canderton, skipped past his man and sent in a low cross for Dan Fleming who reacted first and slid the ball home.

The second half saw Marlow in the ascendancy for a while but Ashford continued to look fairly resilient at the back and in goal, Tyler Tobin is at the top of his game.  It was slightly against the run of play but Ashford always seemed on the night to have that little bit of extra quality when it mattered and on the hour mark they doubled the lead.  Full back Joe Green played a major part in the move picking up a clearance and combining with Fleming, who struck his second of the game.

Marlow continued to make life difficult though and on 78 minutes they pulled a goal back when sub Isaac Ose-Tutu volleyed home a low cross.  Just as on Saturday though, Ashford took it in their stride and ensured victory close to the end when a corner from Alex Fisher was forcefully headed home by an unmarked Max Webb.

The supporter vote for “Ashford Man of the Match” went to Dan Fleming which few would disagree with, as he looks exceptionally sharp at the moment and is being well supported by Mark Bitmead.  It would be wrong though to pick out too many individuals with the whole squad looking well prepared.  It was good to see Tommy Brunton and Samad Kazi getting some time, the only blot being a knock picked up by Max Herbert.  The game also saw the 600th competitive appearance for the club by skipper Russell Canderton, a marvellous feat that will be recognised properly by the club.  That was not the only milestone as Tyler Tobin reached his 150th start for the club at the age of 21, whilst on Saturday Mark Bitmead, subject to selection, will make his 200th competitive start for the Tangerines.  Well done to all three.

We are at home again on Saturday when Chalfont St. Peter are the visitors to Short Lane.  There will be more on that one later in the week.

Starting with eight of their promotion winning squad, Ashford made a solid start to their Evostick Southern League season with a 3-1 victory away at Northwood FC.

It was something of a lottery amongst supporters as to who would be in the opening eleven, and without doubt Ashford had one of their most solid benches ever.  Three newcomers started, including young giant Romario Jonas who was dominant at the back throughout.  In midfield, Max Herbert was quietly impressive whilst Kameron English put down an early claim for “goal of the season” when he hammered in Ashford’s third and clinching goal ten minutes after half-time.

On a very hot day both sides should be congratulated for their efforts, whilst referee Kyle, newly arrived from the North East, also gave an excellent performance, quietly efficient, although generally it was a match where both sides were content to try to play football.

After an even opening period, Ashford took the lead on 24 minutes when a swift movement, involving Joe Green, Max Webb and English culminated in a dangerous cross of which Dan Fleming took full advantage as he swept the ball home.

Shortly afterwards Mark Bitmead almost doubled the lead when a ferocious effort came back off the bar.  Northwood were far from out of the match at this stage though and one or two poorly conceded free kicks by Ashford saw the home side pressing hard for a while.

Generally though, Ashford were looking good and it was no great surprise when they doubled the lead on 34 minutes when a foul on Bitmead in the area by Northwood player led to a penalty which Bitmead duly converted.

Ashford supporters were feeling relaxed at this stage but on the stroke of half-time were jolted out of any complacency when Northwood pulled one back through their player manager Mark Burgess when Ashford failed to deal with a free kick.

The match though was effectively put to bed just ten minutes after the break when English picked the ball up on the right flank, cut inside and unleashed a fierce effort from distance that gave the home keeper no chance.

In further attacks Bitmead hit the woodwork again, whilst both Webb and Fleming went close.  Northwood never gave up but were unable to make any further break through and there was little argument that the Tangerines deserved the points on this occasion.  Kit Manager Chad Beadle collected the supporters’ votes for Ashford “Man of the Match”, won by Bayley Mummery, by the narrowest of margins.

The match was watched by 117 spectators, the highest attendance in the Division being at Farnborough where the home side beat Bedford Town by 3 goals to 2 in front of 286 people.

The first home match of the season arrives on Tuesday, when Marlow visit Short Lane, kick-off 7.45 p.m.  They also enjoyed an opening day win, at home to Arlesey Town, by three goals to nil.

Ashford find themselves with a comparatively local encounter on Saturday as they start what will be their third separate Southern League campaign, the League now known as the Evostick Southern League.

The Tangerines will travel to Northwood FC, a journey of around 15 miles.  The address of the ground is Chestnut Ave, Northwood HA6 1HR and kick-off, of course, is at 3.00 p.m.  The entrance along a narrow track is a left hand turn as you come down Chestnut Avenue from the main road.

Northwood are familiar opponents even though we haven’t met since 2014, with tomorrow’s match due to be the 21st since we first played them in a 1st Round Middlesex Charity Cup match in August 1990.  The match that will always stand out though, certainly in Ashford minds, will be the encounter in the Final of the same competition in May 2012, when we came from three goals down at half-time to go 4-3 up, all scored by Kofi Lockhart-Adams, only for Northwood to equalise at the death.  There was a happy ending though for Ashford supporters that day at Wealdstone, with the penalty shout out ending in a 4-2 victory.  We followed that up in December 2012 with our best ever win over our opponents, winning 4-0 at Short Lane but overall it is Northwood who have done better in all the games between us, with nine wins against our four, the remainder being draws.

Northwood enjoyed a successful season in 2015-2016, finishing 7th, and winning the Middlesex Senior Cup but it would seem from reading their website that last season’s side has now broken up and that it will largely be a new squad that we will be facing.  The exact opposite is true for Ashford of course, with virtually all of last season’s promotion side back in contention, along with several new comers.

The matches will come thick and fast now, and on Tuesday we have our first home league match, when Marlow FC will be our visitors.

 

 

A close and committed match against Molesey was just what Ashford needed prior to the start of the league campaign on Saturday and that is exactly how it turned out.  The result didn’t matter too much but a win is always welcome and manager Ben Murray will be pleased with his side’s doggedness, winning by 4 goals to 3 after going behind on three occasions.

After an even opening period, Molesey took the lead from the spot just before the half-hour mark when Will Boye’s lunge was penalised.  Within four minutes though, the Tangerines were level as a corner from Mark Bitmead was bundled in by Max Webb.

On the stroke of half-time Ashford went behind again but once again levelled quickly, just three minutes into the second period.  The scorer was Bitmead with arguably the best goal of the match as he deftly lobbed the visiting keeper.

The visitors though were proving persistent and went ahead for third time on 56 minutes.  It took Ashford a little longer this time to get back on even terms but they managed it thirteen minutes later when the referee awarded a penalty against a Molesey defender.  Bitmead duly converted.

Both sides had by now made changes but Ashford were starting to look that bit stronger and went ahead for the first time soon afterwards when Joe Green was on hand to crash the ball into the top of the net.  That ended the scoring but Murray had good reason to be pleased overall with many of his squad and it will be interesting to see who gets the nod for the first league game on Saturday.  Just as in the CCL, there is little doubt about Ashford’s scoring potential but the tendency to concede preventable goals has not been eradicated on the evidence of the pre-season matches in general.

The season is therefore now upon us and Ashford start their Evostick League campaign with an away trip to Northwood on Saturday, kick-off 3.00 p.m.  There will be a preview on the site later in the week,

Following an even first half against a strong Barnet squad Ashford struggled to cope with the power and pace of their opponents after the break, conceding three times fairly swiftly, eventually losing the match by five goals to one

Despite the scoreline, it was a useful exercise for Ashford, who made multiple changes at half-time.  The starting line up included debutant Romario at full back along with Max Herbert in midfield and both look excellent acquisitions.  Indeed it was Ashford who took the lead on 24 minutes, with a goal very typical of last season, as Dan Fleming danced down the left before putting in Mark Bitmead who did well to beat the keeper, his powerful shot hitting the post before finding the back of the net.

The visitors equalised on 35 minutes and then went ahead somewhat controversially from the spot.  Whilst there was no argument that an Ashford defender had committed a foul in the area, an earlier and fairly obvious foul on Romario went unpunished and the assistant referee had then put his flag up for offside before putting it down again.

Barnet were looking stronger and in the second half their professionalism showed throughout.  The multiple changes, including the whole back four, probably did not help Ashford’s cohesion and Barnet could have had more, two ferocious efforts rebounding from the woodwork in rapid succession.  Nevertheless Ashford continued to work hard, with Bayley Mummery having the best opportunity to pull one back but his effort went narrowly wide.  With just one up front though and both Fleming and Bitmead withdrawn, it was an uphill struggle.

A more realistic appraisal of Ashford’s chances may well be found in the next match, on Tuesday evening, again at Short Lane, when Ryman side Molesey are the visitors.  Promoted two seasons ago from the CCL, they are likely to provide the sort of opposition we expect to be facing every week in the Evostick League.  Kick-off is 7.45 p.m. and entrance is £5, with OAP’s at £3 and children under 16 free.

 

Ashford completed a hard fought win over Chertsey Town on Monday morning beating their local rivals by two  goals to one, to ensure another three points and maintain third place in the table behind Hartley Wintney and Hanworth Villa on goal difference.

There had been concerns that the overnight rain which continued to fall throughout the game might bring about an early season postponement but the pitch was in superb condition, with not a drop of standing water and even more pleasingly did not seem to cut up in the slightest.

A healthy attendance of 175 witnessed an interesting and well contested match throughout, incidentally without a single caution.  It was fairly clear from the start, especially when top marksman John Pomroy was deployed in central defence, that the visitors’ intentions were to try to nick a goal and hold on to it and to be fair they nearly pulled it off, belying their lowly position in the table.  Most of the possession was Ashford’s but it was Chertsey, in just about their first meaningful attack of the half, who took the lead on 11 minutes, when neither Russell Canderton nor Lewis Taylor were able to effect a proper clearance from a long ball allowing Chertsey’s Joel Thompson who was a nuisance all morning, to nip in and score.

There was no panic whatsoever though from Ashford, who continued to enjoy most of the possession without actually making it count and that situation carried on well into the second half.  Finally though, Jack Beadle, fed by Tommy Brunton (later given the “Ashford man of the match” accolade by Ashford supporters), knocked home the equaliser and one wondered if Chertsey would finally crack.

They did not though and continued to defend doggedly continuing to look a threat on the break.  Indeed with just minutes to go, they almost stole it, but Dan Fleming of all people was in the right position to acrobatically get the ball off the line.  That would otherwise have given the visitors all three points but in the end Ashford were not to be denied and deep into stoppage time it was lively sub, Bradley Wainwright who broke Chertsey hearts with a well taken effort.  Finding himself through on goal he went past the keeper but was driven well wide and it looked as if the chance had gone, only for the diminutive striker to somehow send the ball in from an acute angle, for his first competitive goal for the club.

Chertsey were understandably peeved, especially as they thought the officials had missed a handball just prior to the move and it was understandable, as we all know what it feels like to lose in such circumstances.  The Ashford player in question, Bailey Mummery, said afterwards that the ball had rebounded on to his hand from his foot but that in no way had it been deliberate.  The officials said afterwards that they had not seen the incident in any case.  The bottom line was of course that the goal was awarded.

For Ashford, although they made hard work of scoring goals against a resolute defence, they just kept playing and their reward finally came.  Scott Weight was not quite fit enough to resume in the end and Harry Driver suffered another injury, necessitating his substitution in the first half.  Beadle would have had two goals but his “first” was ruled out for offside, which was a shame as it had been well taken.  At times Ashford played some sparkling stuff but at other times passes were going astray.  Everyone stuck to the task though and will look forward to the next match, which is at home to Badshot Lea on Saturday.  They were certainly expected to be one of the clubs pushing for honours but have not made the kind of start they would have hoped for.  Absolutely nothing can be read into that, as Chertsey proved, and it will be another very tough match.  If anyone wants to do a spot of spying incidentally, Badshot play away to Camberley Town tomorrow evening (Tuesday) in what is a local derby and which might be a cracking match.

Anyone from Ashford who intended to travel to Frimley tomorrow evening for the opening Ryman Youth League match, is advised not to do so as Frimley have resigned from the League, which was only conveyed to us today.

Finally, we hope that the lady who phoned the club this morning to say she had lost her teeth at the function on Saturday evening has now found them as they were nowhere to be seen at the club.  We didn’t like to ask how she came to lose them in the first place!

A well worked goal from Mark Bitmead just 15 minutes in was enough to send Ashford through to the next round of the FA Cup, in which they will travel to either Hoddesdon Town or Romford, who drew yesterday and replay on Wednesday.

AFC Kempston from the United Counties League were no pushovers and they gave the Tangerines  a tough examination for much of the match.  Nevertheless they were unable to penetrate the home defence which seems to have a more solid feel about it this season, and although both sides had chances, the greater number overall were created by Ashford and in the opening 20 minutes when Ashford were dominant, Bitmead had two other chances which might have ensured a less nervous finish.  In the end though, one was good enough, with Lewis Taylor being voted “Ashford man of the match” as the Tangerines won their sixth match in succession since the start of the season.

The visitors for their part often looked dangerous in possession but on the day they did not possess a cutting edge.

Some unfathomable decisions from referee Yesilyurt, who tended to play his whistle rather than blow it, added to the fun as Ashford now look forward to travelling to either Hoddesdon Town or Romford in the next round in a fortnight’s time.  They drew on Saturday and will replay on Wednesday evening although it would seem that Hoddesdon may be kicking themselves after missing two penalties.  There is a possibility that the next round may have to be played on the Sunday but more on that once we know the situation.

Ashford very quickly return to League action on Monday morning, when Chertsey Town are the visitors, kick-off 11.30 a.m.  Ashford will be in good heart but will take nothing for granted against our Surrey neighbours who are a better side than their current position suggests, especially with veteran John Pomroy still very much amongst the scorers.

On Tuesday evening, Ashford U18’s have their delayed opening Ryman Youth League match away to Frimley Green U18, kick-off 7.45 p.m.

It is may be too much to hope for that Ashford will emulate their FA Cup record in season 08-09 when, having drawn at home to Forest Green Rovers in the 4th Qualifying Round (and came so close to winning right at the death, when Gavin Smith beat the keeper only to see his shot trickle agonisingly wide of the post by inches) they found themselves in the 1st Round Proper Draw.  Most of the players gathered at the club on the Sunday lunchtime to witness the draw live on TV only to see Ashford come out with an away tie at Team Bath, should they beat Forest Green in the replay.  It was a major disappointment not to have the possibility of playing against a Football League side and Forest Green saw to it that Ashford’s interest would end on a Tuesday night in Gloucestershire.

Nevertheless there is always that same buzz about the FA Cup and this season, Ashford have been rewarded with a home tie in the 1st Qualifying Round on Saturday, against AFC Kempston Rovers, who play in the same league as Wellingborough, the United Counties League,  and they hail from Bedfordshire.  In the previous round they beat Spartan S. Midlands side, Oxhey Jets 3-2.  In their league matches they have won one and drawn the other three of their matches to date.

Ashford should be at full strength, with Scott Weight now declared fit and added to the squad.  Kick-off is at 3.00 p.m. and if the scores are level after 90 minutes, there will be a replay at Kempston on Tuesday evening.  Should that happen, our league match at home to Chertsey Town on Monday morning will be postponed.  Our very grateful thanks go to Heathrow Personnel who have sponsored the match, yet another example of the great help they have given to this club in recent seasons.

There will be a minute’s silence before this afternoon’s match, in memory of the two players of Worthing United, and indeed everyone who lost their life, in the Shoreham Air Accident last Saturday.

Having been rained off on Wednesday evening, the Under-18’s first Ryman Youth League match of the season will be away to Frimley Green U18 next Tuesday evening.  The Ladies are without a game on Sunday as far as we know.

 

Due to the torrential rain, this evening’s opening Ryman Youth League match at home to Bedfont Sports has been postponed.

The boys will still be at the club enjoying a spot of food so why not come down away.  It is likely that the Chairman will have his boot and shoe cleaning kit with him if anyone needs a polish and Man Utd's European match will be on live on BT Sport.

We have been remiss in not recording the recent birth of David Alan McDonald, born 15th August 2015 weighing 8lbs 4ozs.  Mum, of course, is Tory (Cox) now living in Consett in the North East with partner David.

We send our best wishes from everyone at the club to Tory and David upon the birth of their first child.

The winners of the FA Cup tie between Ashford and AFC Kempston on Saturday will face an away trip in the 1st Qualifying Round to either Hoddesdon Town (Spartan S. Midlands League) or Romford (Ryman League Div One North)

It was another three points for Ashford at Cove on Saturday which was what mattered, of course, but it was a curious match from the visitors’ point of view.

The game started with almost total dominance over a young Cove side as Ashford must have enjoyed at least 90% of the possession, scoring twice in the opening fifteen minutes, through Jack Beadle and Bailey Mummery, narrowly missing several other chances and looking as if they were going to strike up a cricket score.  It was just that easy at that point.

As an illustration as to how matters change quickly in football, Ashford suddenly seemed to lose their focus with passes going astray all over the field and carelessness creeping in.  As a result Cove were starting to enjoy more possession of the ball, more often than not when it was given to them, and out of the blue they pulled one back, when big Cyril Ocansey, who actually made 21 appearances for Ashford in the 2013-2014 season and was quite a favourite, persisted and was rewarded for his running as he pulled one back. 

There was no immediate panic but just before half-time, Cove scored again, this time through Phillips, to level the scores and it was game on.

Within a minute of the re-start though, it was game off again as Beadle,  quite rightly named later as “Ashford Man of the Match” pulled one back with a fierce effort that may have gone in anyway but took a slight deflection which gave the keeper no chance.  Dan Fleming then quickly restored the two goal cushion and whilst Cove continued to make the Ashford defenders work when they broke, the result was never in doubt after that.

After the inept performance of the referee in last season’s encounter, it was a relief that referee Davis was in benevolent mood, not finding it necessary to take a single name throughout the 90 minutes, which was good to see, so well done to him and both sides.  Apart from his time keeping, which raised an eyebrow or two and even a shackle from the Ashford bench at the end, any criticism was aimed at the far side assistant in the first half who gave a blatantly poor offside decision that would otherwise have seen Dan Fleming right through on the end of probably the best passing movement of the afternoon.

The result and others leaves Ashford in 3rd place with both Hartley Wintney and Hanworth Villa winning at previously undefeated clubs.  It is still too early to take too much notice of the table though and, for some of the match at least, Cove proved that there are no easy matches in the League.  Ashford though, with Max Webb back on Saturday and Scott Weight nearly there, seem well prepared for the rigours of a long season.  A special mention also goes to Harry Driver who came in at right back, with Samad Kazi unavailable and Joe Green injured and gave the sort of disciplined performance he is concentrating upon this season.

There is no midweek match this week, so the next game is at Short Lane on Saturday when the Tangerines will welcome Bedfordhire based AFC Kempston Rovers in the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup.  They are from the same league as Wellingborough Town but doing rather better so it is bound to be a tough encounter.  There will be more on the game later in the week.

Our partners BA won their first league match on Saturday, by four goals to three against Kilburn FC, whilst the Under-18’s enjoyed a 5-2 victory in a friendly at Abbey Rangers on Friday.  The Under-18’s open their league campaign this Wednesday with a home Ryman Youth League match against Bedfont Sports.  Our neighbours have done very well in recent seasons with their youth team set up and it will be a tough match for Ashford.  With most of last seasons’ youngsters having gone, Ashford’s team will be largely built upon their successful Sunday U16 side from last season, but one or two have already made cameo appearances in 1st Team matches, so under manager Nick Bailey  it is hoped they will soon find their feet.

Finally, words are fairly useless but like all clubs we send our condolences to Worthing United and the families of the two players who so cruelly lost their lives in the air accident at Shoreham.

 

Ashford will travel to Cove tomorrow as one of the six clubs in the League yet to drop a point.  The squad will doubtless be full of confidence following last Saturday’s impressive victory in the FA Cup and Tuesday’s hard fought win against Spelthorne but there will be no complacency.

Last season Cove ruled the roost in the League at least until Christmas, with Ashford and others all trying to keep up.  It has been the reverse situation this season with Cove having lost their three opening league match but they were good enough to put five goals past Hellenic side Shrivenham in the FA Cup last week and will doubtless be very much up for the match tomorrow.

Last season honours were shared with Cove winning at Ashford in the opening match of the season, whilst Ashford just about hung on to claim all three points at Cove, winning by 4 goals to 3, after squandering a three goal cushion at one point.  It was also the match that saw the shameful injustice of Mitchal Gough being sent off and having to serve a three match suspension..  That sending off led to the first ever video appeal received by Middlesex County FA only for one member of the panel to say he couldn’t download the video “so the case will have to be based upon the referee’s report”.  He clearly didn’t realise that the video was the whole point of the appeal!  He did view it in the end, we were told, but, incredibly, the appeal was turned down, the whole episode doing nothing for relations between the County and the Club.  We won’t be taking the time and trouble of going down that road again.

Anyway, kick off tomorrow is at 3.00 p.m. as usual and the address of the Club is Oak Farm Fields, Squirrel Lane, Cove, Farnborough, GU14 8PB.  Squirrel Lane is a narrow lane leading up to the ground where there is only a small car-park but doubtless Cove officials will be on hand to direct people to the overflow car-park alongside the pitch.  The burger bar is highly recommended at Cove by the way.

For those who can’t make the trip to Cove, our partners British Airways are at home to Kilburn FC in the Middlesex County League, kick-off 3.00 p.m.

Ashford maintained their 100% start to their league campaign on Tuesday evening with a hard fought 2-1 victory over neighbours Spelthorne Sports.

Under former Ashford stalwart Paul Johnson, Spelthorne have a new look team this season with several new players and certainly look set for a good season as they extended Ashford all the way.  It was Ashford though who scored first on 24 minutes, when excellent work by Joey Robson, later named as “Ashford Man of the Match” by supporters, and Dan Fleming saw Mark Bitmead turn his full back and hit a low drive into the net at the near post.

It was end to end stuff and five minutes before the break Jake Hicks equalised for the visitors when Ashford failed to deal with a corner kick.

Ashford went ahead again though within three minutes of the resumption when Fleming got on the end of a deep cross from Alex Fisher, despite the challenge of two defenders and headed the ball home.  It was an excellent goal from Ashford’s point of view.  Two minutes later he had an opportunity to put clear daylight between the sides but was unable to quite generate sufficient power on this occasion.

The match remained relatively even in terms of possession but Spelthorne were unable to further trouble the strong looking Ashford defence.  It was likewise at the other end, although Tommy Brunton almost added to the scoreline as a thunderous effort whistled just over the bar.  With no further addition to the score line, Ashford remain one of no less than six clubs at the top of the table still to drop a point.  That will change this Saturday with four of the six meeting, namely Colliers Wood at home to top scorers Hartley Wintney and Hanworth Villa making the trip to Horley Town

It was good to see Conor Moody back in action for Spelthorne in the last fifteen minutes or so after his broken leg last season.

Ashford find themselves away to Cove on Saturday, who, after last season’s exploits have had a disappointing start to their season.  If the game can match up in any way to last season’s encounter at Cove, with seven goals, two sending-offs and great excitement, it will be a good spectacle.  More on that one later in the week.

Other news is that our Ladies side played a friendly on Sunday against a much higher side in Clapham Rovers and recorded a 5-1 victory, whilst BA drew two apiece on Saturday against AFC Assyria in their first match at Short Lane.  The Under-18’s have a friendly this coming Friday which will now take place at Abbey Rangers although the writer does not yet know the kick-off time, which will be advised later.

Finally, AFC Kempston Rovers defeated Oxhey Jets by three goals to two in what we understand was a controversial FA Cup replay last night, so it is the Bedfordshire club that we will welcome to Short Lane on Saturday 29 August.

 

With the Chairman looking resplendent in his new suit, not to mention keeper Tobin in his equally dazzling new damson coloured top, it was a bright day for the Tangerines all round on Saturday as they defeated United Counties League side Wellingborough Town by 8 goals to 1 in the opening round of the FA Cup.

We received a pleasant welcome from our Northants opponents at their well appointed ground in Wellingborough, where, incidentally, it is currently shared with AFC Rushden & Diamonds.  The match started evenly enough and indeed the home side had ample possession throughout but as it went on they simply could not cope at the back, especially with Ashford looking clinical whenever the chances presented themselves.

Dan Fleming opened the scoring on five minutes and Bailey Mummery, later named as Ashford “Man of the Match” by the supporters who travelled (thank you all) hit the next two.  Mark Bitmead then got in the act on the stroke of half-time.

At four down, a Wellingborough come back looked unlikely but any doubts on that score were soon put aside in the opening 15 minutes of the second period, both scored by Bitmead,  one from the spot, thus completing his hatrick.

Wellingborough pulled one back soon afterwards, much to manager Murray’s annoyance, the first goal in fact that Ashford have conceded this season, but it did not really interfere with the way the day was going and two further goals, one from Jack Beadle, who had earlier seen a thunderbolt of a shot pushed on to the bar by the home keeper, and one from Samad Kazi, whose pace was a notable feature of the game saw the total reach eight.

Murray was able to rest both Fleming and Bitmead long before the end of the game to keep them fresh for Tuesday’s match at home to Spelthorne and, all round, it was one of those football days to be enjoyed in the warm sunshine.

Ashford do not yet know who they will be playing in the next round as AFC Kempston Rovers drew at Oxhey Jets on Saturday and will replay on Tuesday evening, this taking place at Biggleswade Town, due apparently to problems with the  lights at the moment at Kempston.

In the meantime, attention turns back to the League and Tuesday evening when Ashford entertain Spelthorne Sports.  They also enjoyed a good FA Cup win on Saturday, in their first ever season in it, against Stotfold and it is bound to be an intriguing local derby.  Kick-off at Short Lane is 7.45 p.m.

 

It’s FA Cup day on Saturday and Ashford are no different to any other club in hoping that progress can be made, not least due to the prize money on offer for every round that a club manages to win.  This weekend’s Extra-Preliminary Round tie is worth £1500 to all the winners.

Ashford find themselves with a fairly lengthy journey to Northamptonshire to face Wellingborough Town of the United Counties League, a club playing at the same level as the Tangerines.  Although nothing can be written into it, whilst Ashford have managed to win their two opening league matches without conceding a goal, Wellingborough have lost their opening two.  On their web site, they report that they went down 1-4 in their opening game against Leicester Nirvana but were unlucky to lose 3-4 at home to Newport Pagnell on Tuesday evening, when they missed a penalty and also hit the bar.

Wellingborough have an interesting history and can claim their existence back to 1867, being the 6th oldest club in the country.  They have had long periods in the Southern League in the past but were reformed in the early 2000's after not playing for a few seasons.  Their most famous old player is Phil Neal, of Liverpool, who started his career at Wellingborough.

With virtually all players now back from holiday, manager Ben Murray should have a strong squad from which to pick his team, the only doubt being Joe Green who picked up a slight knock at Chessington on Tuesday.  The game kicks off at 3.00 p.m. and if the scores are level after 90 minutes, there will be a replay at Short Lane on Tuesday evening.

For supporters travelling to Wellingborough, the address of the ground is 53-61 London Road, Wellingborough,
Northants, NN8 2DP.  According to Google it is a journey of just over 71 miles ground to ground, much of it on the M1 and should take around an hour and a half.

Other news this morning is that, should Ashford beat Beckenham Town in the opening round of the Surrey Senior Cup, they would face an away trip to either Camberley Town or Knaphill in the 2nd Round.  The full draw can be viewed at http://combinedcounties.pitchero.com/

Also, Jesse Atiase has left the Club after the briefest of stays to re-join Hanworth Villa.  Jesse made just the one competitive appearance for us, in the delayed Middlesex Charity Cup match and we clearly didn’t get to see the best of him, but we wish him success and good luck at Hanworth.

Ashford are one of only six clubs drawn to play in the Preliminary Round of the Surrey Senior Cup, in which we will entertain Beckenham Town on a date to be decided.

The Preliminary Round will reduce the number of competing clubs to 32 and the main draw will be live on Radio Surrey this coming Friday at 7.45 a.m.

Ashford expected a tough match at newly promoted Chessington & Hook and that is exactly how it turned out.  In the end it was a 2-0 victory and another three points the main difference between the sides being the precise finishing shown on two vital occasions by the Tangerines, along with the silky skills of Tom Brunton in midfield who was named “Ashford man of the match” by Ashford supporters, after providing two exquisite through balls for the goals.

Rainfall had not been anticipated but if fell throughout and on a glistening surface it made for an exciting match, although both sides often played it long when, certainly from Ashford’s point of view, it might have been better on some occasions to keep the ball on the ground.  That said, there was rarely any time to dwell on it though as both sides seemed to relish the occasion in front of a three figure crowd.

Ashford took an early lead, on five minutes.  Brunton, unchallenged, threaded the ball seamlessly through for Samad Kazi and his pace took him clear, before he deftly slid the ball past the generally excellent home keeper.  Any ideas of an easy match were swiftly dispelled though and an absorbing match ensued.

So it continued with Chessington possibly enjoying greater possession overall but Ashford always looking that little bit more dangerous, especially when Mark Bitmead and Dan Fleming, both looking menacing, were in possession.  The pace was unrelenting and it was a great relief for Ashford supporters when Bitmead finally clinched the match in the 84th minute.  Brunton was again the provider and Bitmead produced a sublime finish, with a little dink over the keeper.

Ashford were finally able to relax slightly as Chessington realised their chance had gone but there won’t be many tougher matches this season.  There were many positives for the Tangerines, not least the manner in which the various new boys have settled into the team and the squad.  Two clean sheets in a row at this level is to be applauded and a special mention should go to Joe Robson who has slipped into the team almost unnoticed and looks to be quite an asset, especially last night when he had to drop into the right back position after Joe Green had to leave the field with a knock.  Club captain Russell Canderton returned from the sub’s bench looking fit whilst Tyler Tobin in goal was back to his immaculate best and, all in all, Ashford, on the basis of the first two matches, and without getting carried away, look set for a decent season.

There is an immediate break on Saturday when Ashford will travel to Wellingborough Town of the United Counties League in the Extra-Preliminary Round of the FA Cup.  It is a journey of around 71 miles but nothing we weren’t used to in our Southern League days.  The players will have a mini-bus thanks to Wheels who have helped us out yet again and there will be more on the match in the next couple of days.

So far so good and this evening’s squad for the match at Chessington will be strengthened by the availability of both skipper Russell Canderton and Scott Weight.  As stated before though, it will be no easy match against a club who went from near the foot of Division One to earn promotion back to the Premier Division, just a year after being relegated, thanks to a run of 13 unbeaten matches, most of which were won.

Kick-off this evening is 7.45 p.m. and the full address of the ground is Chalky Lane, Chessington, KT9 2NF.  There is ample parking at the ground.

Our two clubs have not met in a league match since the 99-00 season when both matches ended in 2-2 draws.  In the first one, played at Chessington in October 1999, our two scorers were Stefan Elekes and Andy Frost whilst at home in January 2000, it was Andy Frost, again, and Tony Nolan.

Since then there have been just three meetings, two in the S. Comb. Cup and one in the Surrey Senior Cup, with Ashford recording two victories to Chessington’s one.

Three points and a clean sheet added up to a good first day for Ashford who beat AFC Hayes by the only goal of the game at Short Lane.

Despite the closeness of the scoreline and indeed the lateness of the goal, which did not arrive until the 79th minute, it was generally accepted that the Tangerines deserved the victory, rather dominating possession for much of the second half.

No-one knew quite what to expect from the visitors who were fielding a very different side to the one that was relegated from Step 4 last season but the early stages saw Ashford taking control and it took referee Elson less than two minutes to incur the collective disapproval of the Ashford supporters, when a blatant hack on Mark Bitmead, which, at any other time of the game would have seen a card, possibly even red, for the offender, was completely ignored, apart from the award of a free kick on the edge of the area.  “Get one in early” seems to still work!

Everyone got on with the game though and with Dan Fleming playing in a somewhat withdrawn role, Ashford were unable to make the early possession count and the visitors came into the match ever more strongly as the half progressed.  What was good to see though was that Ashford’s freshened defence, with two members of it making their debut, had a solid look about them that was not always present last season.

The second half saw Ashford regain the initiative and generally hold on to it.  AFC though defended well and doggedly and, as mentioned, it took a long time to make the breakthrough.  It finally came though when excellent work by Bitmead led to a chance for Fleming and Ashford’s reliable striker made no mistake as he gratefully hammered home the opportunity.

For those interested in the visitors, they should pick up their share of points this season with a defence that looks hard to break down.  They also have one or two speedy front runners but overall they were unable to create too many chances, apart from one effort well saved by Tyler Tobin at his best.

Ashford now look to Tuesday when they make the trip to Chalky Lane Chessington (right opposite the World of Adventures) to meet newly promoted Chessington & Hook, who drew at Farnham Town one apiece on Saturday, to complete their 14th consecutive unbeaten match since they lost 1-4 at home to Staines Lammas back on 10 March., so it will be a challenging match without a doubt.  More on that one tomorrow.

 

Pre-season is out of the way for another year as Ashford start their league campaign on Saturday with a home match against AFC Hayes, kick-off 3.00 p.m.

It is a difficult game to predict with AFC having been relegated from the Central Division of the Southern League at the end of last season, treading the same path as the Ash Trees a year ago.  Although it was too late for them, they actually picked up quite well towards the end of last season but it will mean little as it is understood they have virtually a completely new squad as they settle in to life at Step 5.

From the opening Ashford line-up this time last season when the Tangerines lost at home to Cove, every player in that starting line-up has remained with the club, barring Jack Mullan who left halfway through last season, and Eliott Jones whom we have not seen this time round.  He is a loss but with at least six new players in the squad for this new season, the eventual line-up tomorrow will certainly show some changes.

Kick-off at Short Lane is 3.00 p.m. and prices of entry are unchanged from last season (£8 adults, £5 OAP’s and accompanied children under 16 free.  Unaccompanied children pay £2).

Other intriguing matches tomorrow include Epsom & Ewell entertaining Windsor whilst league runners-up Camberley have a home game against Horley Town who have apparently retained hot shot Ashley Nadesan, runner –up in the league goal scoring records last season.

The start of the season is always a busy time and on Tuesday Ashford have their first away match, at Chalky Lane, against newly promoted Chessington & Hook United.

Earlier tomorrow afternoon, the Manchester United v Tottenham match will be showing live on TV in the clubhouse whilst afterwards, the match between Chelsea and Swansea will also be on live in the clubhouse.

Our fledgling ladies side, under the control of Will Boye, has certainly not been idle in obtaining sponsorship and their main sponsor is Korean Foods, whose Managing Director, Dan Suh, has sent the following message:

After the recent World Cup in Canada, Korea Foods UK are delighted to be sponsoring Ashford Town (Middlesex) Ladies Football Club this season. Having come down to the club to meet the team manager, Will Boye, and meet a couple of the players, Ashley Cheatley and Holly Isaacs, we were impressed with the direction the club wants to move, the commitment from the management, and the desire of the players who we were able to talk to.

This convinced us that sponsoring a newly formed grass roots football club, but who have big ambitions, would be the right direction for ourselves. Having already been involved in sponsoring AFC Wimbledon and having been approached by Chelsea Ladies (due to the Korean connection), this year we want to commit to a well-run club where the contribution we make will really matter.

Despite not being able to make a pre-season friendly yet, and despite the results, we get regular reports direct from the manager, and it’ll be really exciting to see how the team fare when we hope to see the progress at the next home game. We don’t expect to see the team win every game, but we know that the management are driving good ethics into the club, which will make the players improve.

Good quality football, improving technique, provide understanding of the tactical aspect of the game, and discipline, are all massive aspects of what we know the management is trying to drive into the players.

Having been involved in different football clubs at different levels, we know that these kind of ethics are the minimum required to be the best, and to achieve potential.

So who are we? In a nutshell, we sell Korean food, whether it’s in your local supermarket, local Chinese supermarket, or through our own shops, we have everything to do with Korean food in the UK. We educate foodies about Korean flavours, and hope that people might try some Korean food.

Over the last few years, we have run a big campaign with chefs and the media to get the profile of Korean food increased, and have found that the London scene is starting to get on board with Korean food and flavours.

We have a passion for food and football. Hopefully, we might organise a few tasters for the players and staff, and will hope to bring down some interesting Korean food from time to time, maybe even organise a Korean food night after a game during the season……and we’ll see what we can do about supplying some refreshments from time to time.

Our philosophy, whether it’s in business, sport, or your everyday life is very simple. The very minimum you put in is 100% or you have already lost. There will be good days, there will be bad days, but only unity brings you success. We hope that the players and management agree with our philosophy and bring it to the team.

We want to wish all the players and management at Ashford Town (Middlesex) Ladies Football Club a very successful season.

 

 

 

 

As we have a short lull before the 1st Team starts in earnest on Saturday, we take a look at both our new ladies’ side and British Airways FC, who have taken the place of Staines Lammas.

As a new side, the ladies have been placed in Division 3 of the Greater London Women’s League in which they will compete against ten other sides including the rather unusually named Bedhead FC.  There must be a story there!  Also in the League are teams from Hammersmith, Orpington, Acton etc., so they will have their fair share of travelling.  No league fixtures have been issued yet but it is known that they will start on Sunday 23 August.  They will be playing their final pre-season match at home to Clapham Ladies on Sunday 16 August, kick-off 2.00 pm as far as we are aware.  The ladies now have a squad of 25.

British Airways start their league programme in the Premier Division of the Middlesex County League this Saturday, 8 August, with an away trip to Pitshanger Dynamo, with their first home match being the following Saturday, 15 August, against AFC Assyria, who sound interesting opponents.  A previous web site of theirs states that “all members are Assyrian, true descendants of the ancient Mesopotamian empire of Assyria and Babylon, cradle of civilisation and speakers of the ancient tongue of Aramaic.  That should certainly test the average referee in the Middlesex County League one would think!  Kick-off will be 3.00 p.m. so if you can’t make the trip to Wellingborough to support Ashford in the FA Cup, why not come along.and support our new colleagues.

Back to Ashford and don’t forget that we have a social evening on Thursday for supporters and committee to meet with our players in a convivial atmosphere before the opening match at home to AFC Hayes on Saturday.

There is no news yet concerning the Sunday side and their fixtures, although we understand that they have been promoted following their excellent season last year.

 

The Club sends its congratulations to Vice-President Gareth Coates and his partner Stephanie following the birth of their second child.  Benjamin Eric Norman Coates was born on 1 August, weighing in at an impressive 8lb 14oz.  Gareth reports that mother and baby are doing well.

Pre-season results matter little as such, which is just as well in Ashford’s case, as they were beaten by two goals to one at Abbey Rangers on Saturday, to conclude a fairly indifferent pre-season sequence of matches.

All kinds of excuses could be dreamed up, but maybe we should just say well done to Abbey who should do well in the CCL, one would think.  Ashford were all at sea in the first half and maybe the scoreline reflected the application of both sides with the home side seemingly very much “up for it” and Ashford seeming to adopt something of a laid back attitude, always trying to work the ball from the back but only rarely putting the sort of moves together that the squad is more than capable of.  The wind on basically an open park did not help but it was the same for both sides.

Abbey took the lead midway through the first half when their energetic striker was not closed down and he unleashed a shot that gave Tyler Tobin little chance.  They could have scored more.

To be fair, Ashford improved in the second half and just as in the match against Cockfosters, they started to enjoy the bulk of the possession.  Chances went begging and the home keeper was certainly in good form, although in a normal match he would probably have been sent off, after conceding a penalty with a late lunge  on Mark Bitmead who was through on goal.  Bitmead though converted the penalty with his usual aplomb to level the scores.

Hopefully this article is not too biased in stating that, from that point it was Ashford who looked more likely to score again but Abbey certainly continued to give it all they had and a failure to clear by an Ashford triallist when he had the opportunity, led to what turned out to be the winning goal.

There were one or two positives:  Tyler Tobin looked more like his usual self in goal and could do little with the goals, whilst the return of Scott Weight albeit only for the last fifteen minutes is a major boost for the Club.  He says he needs to get fit but fit or not he rarely misplaced a ball in those last fifteen.  Also, one match does not alter the fact that with Bitmead and Dan Fleming up front, we have two players who scored 62 goals between them last season and with proven scorers in the team, and they are by no means the only ones with scoring potential, this game will soon be forgotten once they get going properly.  It just needs to be sooner rather than later though.

The real stuff starts next Saturday with Ashford at home to AFC Hayes.  The pitch is looking good and one hopes it will be a different story next week especially if some of the absentees on Saturday are back.  The players are training on three nights next week, including Thursday evening but they will be available in the clubhouse from around 8.15 p.m. that evening for a “Meet the Players” evening, when we hope that as many supporters and committee as possible will take the opportunity to come along.

 

Ashford will complete their pre-season programme this afternoon with an interesting trip to CCL new boys Abbey Rangers, who won promotion from the Surrey Elite League last year, and who will now take their place in Division One.

The address of the ground is Addlestone Moor, Addlestone, KT15 2QH.  If you come along from Chertsey, take the 1st left at the large roundabout before going into Addlestone and the ground is more or less right in front of you.  There is plenty of parking. 

There is the opportunity this coming Thursday evening for all our supporters and members of the committee to meet up with the players especially the new ones, and manager Ben Murray hopes as many as possible of the committee and supporters as possible will attend.  The starting time will be advised very shortly.

Ashford came close to further progress in the FA Cup on Saturday, drawing one apiece with Daventry Town, but having no luck whatsoever as they hit the woodwork no less than three times in a superb second half performance.  Daventry are a very good team but such was the quality of Ashford’s display at times, they will go up to Northampton on Tuesday evening, believing that they are still in with a good chance of getting through at the second attempt.

With Rob Curtis unavailable, in came Joe Hughes in an otherwise unchanged team, and, full of confidence, Ashford had plenty of possession throughout the opening 45.  They could not make it count though and it was the visitors who took the lead in the 28th minute when a rasping drive from Kieran Fitzgerald gave Tyler Tobin in goal little chance, especially as it took a slight deflection on the way.  Both Hughes and Mark Bitmead had promising opportunities to get Ashford on to the goal sheet but it remained 0-1 at the break.

For a period in the second half Daventry got significantly on top and one wondered if Ashford had shot their bolt, having given their all in the first half with no reward.  To their credit though, with skipper Russell Canderton and Jack Mullan resolute at the back, the Tangerines withheld the pressure and once again found themselves with plenty of possession, which they put to good use just on the hour mark when a defence splitting pass from sub Conor Moody put Mark Bitmead through and he took it well sliding the ball competently past the obstinate Daventry keeper, Ben Heath who belied his 17 years of age at times.

Ashford pushed hard for the winner and Bitmead, twice, and Dan Fleming cursed their luck as between them they hit the woodwork three times only to see the ball rebound out.  Fleming was particularly unlucky as his delicate chipped attempt (a la Glen Hoddle against Watford a few seasons ago) hit both bar and post before refusing to go in.  To be fair one attempt had been finger tipped on to the woodwork by Heath, who was named by the Daventry committee as their “man of the match”.

The visitors went down to ten men near the end as Josh Cole was sent off for two yellows, apparently his second dismissal of the season, but it was too late to impact upon the match so battle will be resumed on Tuesday evening at Daventry when there will have to be a definite result.  The address of the ground is Communications Park, Browns Road, Daventry, Northants, NN11 4NS and whilst it is obviously recognised that it is a long trip for a midweek evening (although nothing we’re not used to) the Club will be delighted to see as many supporters get there as possible.  Kick-off will be 7.45 p.m.

The unofficial Chad Beadle “man of the match” for Ashford, as voted for by supporters went to Max Webb, who gave another powerhouse performance in midfield.  With Rob Curtis available again on Tuesday and a stirring performance from Conor Moody from the bench, manager Murray has some difficult choices to make for the replay.

The draw does mean that the already re-scheduled league match at home to Windsor will be postponed and re-arranged in due course.  Other CCL teams to get through to the next round were Knaphill, who beat Badshot Lea and Division One side and neighbours, Bedfont & Feltham, who were good enough to beat Step 4 club Leighton Town by 3 goals to 2 at the Orchard.  Well done to them and good luck to the other four sides who, like Ashford drew their games yesterday.  One of them is another Division One side, Chessington & Hook, who pulled off a 1-1 draw away at Deal Town.

Ashford look forward to welcoming Daventry Town to Short Lane on Saturday in the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup.  Daventry are, of course, well known to us and will present a strong challenge, especially in the light of their achievement last season in reaching the 1st Round Proper.  The prize for the winners is an away trip to Southern Premier side Hitchin Town.

After coming close to promotion last season, Daventry have possibly not made quite the start to their season that they would have wished, having won three and lost two of their six league matches to date.  That record though is good enough to see them currently in 6th place in the Central Division table.  Daventry have suffered more than their fair share of injuries this season and have a number of new players in their squad, which has not stopped their local Press predicting that Daventry should be able to win through.

Ashford are, of course, bang in form with six consecutive wins behind them and have no injury worries going into the match, which if it ends all square after 90 minutes, will proceed to a replay at Daventry on Tuesday evening.

The spotlight has been on the 1st Team in recent weeks as they have powered towards the top of the League but Ashford’s Under-18 side start their fixtures in earnest next week, on Wednesday 3 September, when they will entertain their counterparts from Wingate & Finchley FC, in the Ryman Youth League (West), kicking off at 7.45 p.m.

The team is under new manager Sean Caldwell this season and his preparations have been thorough, with every expectation that the lads will do better this year, in a very tough league.  Indeed one of the squad has already been registered for the 1st Team, namely Connor Dyle and he will be gaining some experience on Saturday when he is likely to be named amongst the seven subs allowed in the FA Cup.  Alex Fisher is also eligible for the Under-18’s but as an established member of the 1st Team squad, he may not figure too often at this level.

Following the opening match, Ashford then appear to be without a match until Wednesday 17 September, when they will once again be at home, to Hayes & Yeading U18, who are invariably strong at this level.

To complete a trio of home matches, the following Wednesday, 24 September, the side will entertain Metropolitan Police U18’s in the 1st Qualifying Round of the FA Youth Cup, having received a bye in the Preliminary Round.

The first deviation from Wednesday nights comes on Monday 29 September when Ashford will face Hayes & Yeading again, but away this time, and in the 1st Round of the Lucas Fettes (League) Cup.

Of Ashford’s current 1st Team squad, no fewer than seven of the sixteen named against Bedfont Sports on Monday have previously played for the Under-18’s and we hope that progression will continue.

Ashford made it six wins out of six as they eventually saw off the challenge of neighbours Bedfont Sports in Monday’s Derby match, coming out on top by 4 goals to 1.  Scott Harris was out, with a groin problem following Saturday’s match, leaving Jack Beadle to push forward, plus a starting role for Tom Hill at left back, just the 13th player in the opening seven matches to begin a match.  Hill, newly arrived from junior football, was almost an unknown quantity despite some cameo appearances from the bench but he did so well that he earned the supporters “Ashford Man of the Match” award, organised by Chad Beadle, receiving an almost unanimous vote.

It was strange to see Bedfont manager Mick Snowden in the opposing dug-out after serving Ashford with such distinction over the years.  He elected to start the match with just ten men following the late arrival of striker Jordan Esprit, Saturday’s hatrick hero, who entered the fray some ten minutes late.  There were no less than five players in the Sports line-up who had previously played for Ashford, plus goalkeeper Josh Richardson, on the bench.

The opening period of the match, played in rainy conditions throughout, could reasonably be described as nondescript and largely uneventful.  However, in the 31st minute, yet again it was Dan Fleming who opened the scoring, following some sharp work by Jack Beadle.  So it stayed until the break but within a minute of the re-start, the visitors were level.  A corner kick was sent out wide to the unmarked Jack Harlman who gave Tyler Tobin no chance with his crisp volley that flew into the net.

Despite having enjoyed rather more of the possession, manager Ben Murray was sufficiently concerned to make two fairly rapid substitutions, bringing on both Conor Moody and Joe Hughes, and it took just five minutes from Hughes’ introduction before he restored the lead, a low effort beating Alex Wines at his near post.

After that Ashford generally held sway although a one goal lead is always precarious.  It was a relief therefore, when Hughes made it 3-1 with some ten minutes left.  That effectively sealed the three points and as Bedfont threw caution to the wind as indeed they had to, a deft clearance from Moody from a defensive corner kick, put Mark Bitmead away and he raced through, beating the challenge of Vines to send the ball into an empty net to make the final score 4-1 to the Tangerines.

It has been a good bank holiday for Ashford with six points out of six, eight goals scored and just one conceded.  The league table is taking shape and Ashford find themselves neatly tucked in, in 3rd position, just behind unbeaten Spelthorne and Molesey.   Doubtless you will be able to read about both games over the weekend in this week’s edition of the Staines and AshfordNews which could arguably be re-named the Staines & Molesey News after the latter dominated the back pages last week.  Not sure really how many Ashford folk wish to read about Molesey in their local paper any more than Molesey folk wish to read about Ashford.   

There is now a rest until Saturday when Ashford will entertain Daventry Town in the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup to see who will travel to meet Hitchin in the 1st Qualifying Round.  Three CCL teams have made it to the 4th Qualifying Round in recent seasons and Ashford themselves have done it twice in the not too distant past, even making the 1st Round draw on one occasion but more on Saturday’s match in the week.

Ashford’s fifth consecutive win, four of which have been in the League, was possibly their most emphatic of the season.  On a beautiful pitch in a spotless ground, which is a credit to the home side, Ashford found themselves having to change the opening line-up for the first time this season, with young Alex Fisher absent on holiday.  Jack Beadle switched to left back allowing Scott Harris to come in for his first match for Ashford since the 2009-2010 season, his 216th for the Club overall.

After some early forages by the home side, Ashford rather took command of the match, opening the scoring in the 12th minute when a quick free kick taken while the Knaphill defence were still arguing about the decision found its way to Dan Fleming who calmly beat the Knaphill keeper, who proved a difficult obstacle all afternoon.

Within 40 seconds though, Knaphill were given a life line when Jack Beadle was a tad clumsy in the tackle and conceded a fairly soft penalty, only for the taker to fluff his lines as Tyler Tobin saved comfortably.

On the half-hour mark, Ashford doubled their lead when a slide rule pass from Tommy Brunton found Harris who rounded the keeper for his 66th goal for the Club but the first since 13 March 2010 when he scored two in a 3-2 win over Hastings United in the Ryman Prem.

Knaphill provided some flurries but generally the visitors held sway.  They were though far too casual at times with the final ball, when they might otherwise have put the match beyond their hosts before half-time.  Knaphill then enjoyed their best spell for ten minute or so after half-time and one wondered if the carelessness of the first half might come back to haunt the visitors.  A third goal though on the hour mark, once again from Fleming, more or less cemented the win as Knaphill rather fell away after that.

Sub Conor Moody made it four seven minutes later with arguably the goal of the match when, with almost his first touch, he sent a delicately flighted ball into the top of the net giving the keeper no chance.

Carelessness then crept in again as Ashford failed to capitalise upon their obvious supremacy in the final twenty minutes, spurning chance after chance to score more goals and having two reasonable penalty shouts turned down.  Nevertheless, three consecutive away wins, without conceding a goal makes it difficult to be over critical and Ashford now go into Monday’s match at home to Bedfont Sports in confident mood.  It should be a good match, with our neighbours also enjoying a decent win by three goals to one against bottom of the table Farnham Town, a result that leaves them just two points behind Ashford in the fledgling table.  Don’t forget that it is a morning kick-off on Monday, at 11.30 a.m.

The unofficial supporters' poll, conducted each match by Chad Beadle, saw Dan Fleming named as Ashford Man of the Match.

 

The Club has made three new signings all of whom will be well known to Ashford supporters.  Firstly Scott Harris has signed for the Club on a dual registration with Slough Town.  Slough have first call upon his services but it is an open ended agreement and we are delighted to welcome him back to Ashford for the time being.

Hatchett’s last match for us was on 10 April 2010 when he was badly injured at Hendon FC in our Ryman Premier days and was out for the remainder of the season and all the following season.  When he finally recovered we were a little disappointed at the time that he went on to play for Godalming instead of us but it’s water under the bridge now and we will be very pleased indeed to see him wearing the tangerine and white again.

Also back is Samad Kazi, who flirted with one or two other local clubs at the start of this season but is now firmly back with us.  His blistering pace will be a significant asset in the CCL.

Completing the trio of signings is Clark Thorley, a young player of great promise, who made a few substitute appearances last season and will be remembered for scoring a superb free kick at Chalfont St. Peter last season.

Manager Ben Murray is delighted to have the new signings on board but stressed that the new players will have to earn their place in the starting line-up, bearing in mind that Ashford have fielded an unchanged team for the first five matches of the season, winning the last four in a row and conceding only one goal and that an og.

That said, it is important to have a sufficiently large squad with all the matches coming up, especially this Bank Holiday weekend, with games on both Saturday and Monday.

On Saturday Ashford make the short trip to play Knaphill FC for the first time ever in a competitive 1st Team match.  Knaphill are an excellent club who have been making steady progression both on and off the field in recent seasons, culminating in promotion from Division One to the Premier Division at the end of last season.  They received something of a drubbing in their first match this season, losing heavily to Camberley, but have since settled with worthy draws at both Frimley Green and Raynes Park Vale.  They topped that last week with an impressive 3-1 victory at Hellenic League Fairford Town to earn themselves a place in the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup next week when they will entertain Badshot Lea.

The address of the ground is the Brookwood Country Park, Redding Way, Lower Guildford Road, Knaphill, GU21 2AY and kick-off is at 3.00 p.m.  A couple of players spring to mind who have played for both clubs one currently being Joe Green, who figured regularly in our Under-18 team, and is of course the son of Mark Green, and also Micky Walter who was a stalwart for our Reserve team over many seasons before he ended his career at Knaphill.  Also in their current ranks is David Johnston who was the Chertsey manager last season. 

There is not too much recovery time as the Bank Holiday Monday sees a home match against Bedfont Sports, managed of course by Mick Snowden, who we understand has not been well lately.  Hopefully he will be fully recovered in time for Monday, when kick-off is 11.30 a.m.

Sports, of course, also have a number of ex-Ashford players within their ranks, including Robbie Sitch, Tommy Mooney, Danny Byron and Jamie Read amongst others and we welcome them especially as they were all good lads when they played for Ashford, always giving of their best.  Mick did superbly well last season when he saved Sports from relegation when they looked doomed at one point and they have carried on that good form, with just one league defeat so far this season.

 

There is some fixture news this morning.

Firstly in the Surrey Senior Cup draw, broadcast live on BBC Radio Surrey this morning, we were the last ball out of the hat and a fantastic draw will see us travelling to Conference side Woking FC in the 1st Round, a repeat of the 2009 Final.

Also, our Middlesex Charity Cup match at home to Southall has been arranged for Tuesday 16 September.

The Under-18’s have a bye in the 1st Round of the Middlesex Senior Youth Cup and will be at home to AFC Hayes U18 in the 2nd Round.  Also, in case you missed it, the Under-18’s have another home draw in the FA Youth Cup, in which they will face Metropolitan Police U18 in the 1st Qualifying Round on Wednesday 25 September.

Ashford made progress in the FA Cup on Saturday, beating Spartan S. Midlands League side Berkhamsted by three goals to one and they will now entertain Daventry Town in the Preliminary Round on Saturday 30 August.

With Berkhamsted having won their opening two league matches, Ashford anticipated a tough match and that’s what they got but eventually, and whilst it is not for us to criticise other teams, the visitors may reflect that certainly a factor in their defeat was a lack of discipline, which culminated in them ending with nine men and seeing the manager removed from the bench.

The early stages of the match soon showed that the visitors were no mugs but after an even opening period, Ashford got their noses in front when Mark Bitmead, dangerous all afternoon, cut in from the right flank and gave the keeper no chance on eighteen minutes.

Berkhamsted though fought back and on 32 minutes they equalised.  A prevalence to give away too many free kicks around the box haunted Ashford all afternoon and from this one, Ashford defender Rob Curtis had the misfortune to see the ball rebound off his legs for an own goal, when it had not been properly cleared in the first place.

With Ashford fielding an unchanged side for the fifth match in a row, it was anyone’s game as the second half started but the match became bitty and an incident just four minutes into the second period saw a visiting player sent off.  Ashford do not always play that well against ten men and soon after the incident Tyler Tobin came racing out of his goal  to make a last ditch clearance and whilst he got the ball, it was too strong a challenge for the referee.  Tobin was cautioned when, given the propensity of referees often to “even things up”, it had seemed a distinct possibility that he might have been walking.

This only served to intensify the view of the visitors that they were being hard done by and very shortly after that, following a prolonged delay, the manager was invited to leave the bench.  Despite Ashford’s numerical advantage the match remained relatively even for sometime but as the game progressed, it was the home side looking stronger and the breakthrough came on 75 minutes when Bitmead restored the lead from the spot.  It was another disputed decision, with the visitors feeling their man had got the ball but Bitmead made no mistake.

That goal effectively sealed the match and it was no surprise when Bitmead and Dan Fleming, forging an exciting partnership,conspired for the latter to make it 3-1 on 84 minutes, Fleming slamming home the rebound after a good stop from the visiting keeper.   There was still time for Berkhamsted to lose another player for a dangerous challenge on Tobin but the whistle went soon afterwards leaving Ashford to relish the challenge of taking on a Daventry side who went as far as the 1st Round Proper last season.  Tobin was named as Ashford’s “man of the match” but others were in contention, not least Bitmead, playing with great enthusiasm and no little purpose and Fleming, whose deft touches are giving the side a little dash of real quality at times.  Also, just one goal conceded in the last four matches is a testament to the improved defensive displays this season.

Following the frantic opening of the season, Ashford now have a rest until next Saturday, when they will make the short trip to play Knaphill FC for the first time ever in a competitive 1st Team match.  More on that one later in the week.

It’s FA Cup time already and on Saturday Ashford have been favoured with a home draw in the Extra-Preliminary Round against Berkhamsted FC, from the Spartan South Midlands League, with the winners to play at home to Daventry Town in the next round.

Berkhamsted have made a good start to their season, winning both their opening matches, including a 5-1 victory over Tring Athletic who we beat in the competition a couple of seasons ago.  It will be the first meeting between our clubs although we did play the old Berkhamsted Town in the Ryman League in season 2001-02, when we managed to win at home by a solitary goal from Leeyon Phelan.  The away encounter was slightly less successful from Ashford’s point of view, as Berkhamsted triumphed by no less than eight goals to one, a match that marked the final game under manager Dave Kent.  There was one further meeting in the Bryco Cup, (Ryman League Cup) on 18 November 2003 when we redressed the balance to an extent, winning by two goals to nil, courtesy of two goals from  Steve Croxford.

Tuesday’s win saw us up to 5th place in the league table with three wins from four.  We certainly left it late against Camberley although most would probably say we deserved the win on the balance of play, especially in the first half when some of our football was quite breathtaking, not a word to be used lightly.  Whether we can reproduce that on Saturday against another decent team remains to be seen.

Should the game end in a draw, there will be no extra time but a replay at Berkhamsted on Tuesday evening, kick-off 7.45 p.m.

 

 

Ashford finally got the better of Camberley Town on Tuesday evening but left it so late that most people in the ground had surely settled for a share of the points and a nil-nil draw, which certainly didn’t come into the boring capacity.  Ashford started with the same team for the fourth consecutive match, such a change from last season.

The evening’s saviour for the Tangerines was Joe Hughes, who replicated what he did on Saturday, by steering a superb free kick past Camberley’s impressive keeper in the 94th minute of the match to give Ashford all three points.

It was tough on the visitors who had looked very solid in defence but in terms of overall possession, especially in the first half, when it was largely dominated by Ashford, it is probably fair to say that if either side deserved to take all three points, it was the Tangerines.

In that first half, Ashford sent in a number of efforts but only one of them really troubled the keeper, whose handling was impressive throughout, and that came from Mark Bitmead who cut in from the right and hit an excellent effort which sadly for him and Ashford hit the post and rebounded to safety.

There was a flurry of excitement when referee Kissi blew up some six minutes early for half-time, so eventually both teams came out again and played the extra minutes and then turned straight round.  Everyone got on with it though and it was more even throughout the second period with both teams continuing to struggle to create too many chances, despite some delightful play at times.

The win took Ashford into the upper reaches of the fledgling table but there is now a break from league football in favour of the FA Cup on Saturday, when Ashford will be entertaining Berkhamsted FC from the Spartan S. Midlands League.  Kick-off is at 3.00 p.m. and there will be a preview on the web site later in the week.  League matches resume on Saturday week with an away match at newly promoted Knaphill.

This evening, Wednesday, there is a chance to see the new look Under-18 team, now managed by Sean Caldwell, who will be taking on the Sunday side in a friendly on the back pitch and, as previously mentioned, there are two FA Cup ties for the price of one at Short Lane (not literally!) this week as Staines Lammas take on Bedfont Sports on Friday evening in the world’s oldest competition, kick-off 7.30 p.m.

Adverting to last night, both Molesey and Cove (with their fourth 2-1 win in a row) both maintained their 100% records whilst neighbours Chertsey seem to have settled as they took their first points of the season, winning 2-0 at Horley Town.  Westfield lost again, by the only goal of the game at Bedfont Sports, and surprisingly have still to score their first goal of the season.  Other results saw wins for Badshot Lea, Mole Valley and Windsor.

The matches come thick and fast at this time of the season and, following two solid away wins, Ashford will be looking to gather in some home points on Tuesday evening when they entertain Camberley Town, kick-off 7.45 p.m.

It will not be an easy task, with Camberley inflicting a 6-0 thrashing of Knaphill on the opening day, followed up by a 2-0 home win against Farnham Town.  They slipped up in the last minute on Saturday, conceding a second goal to Molesey to lose 1-2 but there is no doubt that Camberley are one of the pre-season favourites, judging by the all the experts on the CCL forum.  One player to watch is prolific striker Manny Quartie, previously at Molesey.

There have been remarkably few matches between the clubs over the years, just four competitive games to be precise, two in the Surrey Senior Cup and two in Division 3 of the Ryman League.  It was the solitary season of 200-2001 in which our two clubs played each other in league matches and we managed to win back then, both at home (3-0) and away (4-0).  The scorers in the most recent game, which was the away one on 30 January 2001, were Des Vertannes, Lee Holman, Andy Frost and Jamie Keith, who went on to play for a number of CCL clubs in later seasons.

One player who played for both clubs is Dale Webb, who started at Ashford, but who went on to play many matches for Camberley, before departing we believe at the end of last season to join Frimley Green.  Another who springs to mind is Ricky McNamara.

It is a special occasion this evening for one of our own players, namely Russell Canderton, who made his 500th competitive start for Ashford on Saturday at Westfield, so tonight will be his 501st.  Loyalty to that extent is rare these days and it would be good if Ashford supporters could give him a special cheer this evening.  Well done Russ.

Don’t forget that on Saturday we turn our attention to the FA Cup when we will be at home to Spartan S. Midlands League side Berkhamsted FC.  More on that one later in the week but you can enjoy a “double bubble” this week in the FA Cup as Staines Lammas will also be playing here on Friday against Bedfont Sports, in what is surely the most local tie in the whole round.  Kick-off is 7.30 p.m.

 

Ashford made it two away wins in a row, both without conceding a goal, as they won by two goals to nil at Westfield on Saturday.

It has already become obvious that there are no easy matches in the CCL and this game once again had plenty of good football from both sides.  Despite that and although Ashford maybe enjoyed slightly more of the possession in the opening 45 minutes, neither side produced a real opportunity and neither keeper was unduly troubled.

Fielding the same opening eleven for the third time in a row, the second half followed a similar pattern at the start but the home side disadvantaged themselves when they had a man sent off for needlessly kicking out at Russell Canderton.  Minutes later Ashford took the lead when young left back Alex Fisher hammered home a rebound.

Any tendency to relax amongst Ashford supporters was swiftly dispelled though, as the reduction in the opposition ranks seemed to hinder the visitors more than the home side and the neat passing the Tangerines had produced for much of the match rather disintegrated, with balls going astray far too often.  Despite being down to ten, Westfield enjoyed their best period without looking too often as if they would penetrate but, that said, Tyler Tobin had to be very much on his toes on one specific occasion, whilst a good tackle from Canderton relieved another difficult situation.

As the match drew to a conclusion, a somewhat contentious decision by the referee rather favoured the visitors when play was brought back after some time, for a free kick to Ashford some ten yards outside the area.  Sub Joe Hughes took charge and unleashed a sweet effort to beat Craig Bradshaw, Westfield’s excellent keeper, as it found the top corner to seal the three points.

Ashford possibly did not play quite as well as they had in the previous two games, even though one of them had been lost.  Nevertheless, six points from two away matches, five goals scored and none against, at least gives the Club some confidence that at the very least they will be difficult to beat this season.  Westfield also looked strong on occasions and it is surprising that, so far, they have not managed a league goal in three outings.  One would imagine they will turn that round quite quickly.

Another thought that occurs is that both Westfield and Colliers Wood had players sent off in the later stages.  Ashford suffered from this malaise themselves for the first half of last season and there is probably a clear lesson to be learnt, in that good discipline will bring its rewards.  Ashford players, please take note.

There is another difficult match coming up on Tuesday when Ashford entertain Camberley Town, kick-off 7.45 p.m.  Camberley were undone in the 90th minute yesterday when visitors Molesey hit the winner in a 2-1 win.  Before that though Camberley had hammered six past Knaphill followed by a 2-0 win over Farnham and may well pose the biggest threat to be faced by the Tangerines so far.