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The day’s highest attendance in the CCL saw Ashford score another three goals and secure a further three points as they beat a resolute Mole Valley side by three goals to one.

Ashford were not at their best until the latter stages of the match and were stung when the visitors took the lead from the spot just on the half-hour mark.  It was given away in a penalty area scramble by skipper Russell Canderton, who agreed afterwards that the ball did hit his hand but it was one of those where it could hardly be said to be deliberate, as the law demands, and will have to be put in the “harsh” category.  Valley’s Liam Holden gave Tyler Tobin no chance.  To add insult to injury, Canderton was cautioned over the incident.

As so often happens it wasn’t too long before matters were evened up when Ashford were awarded a penalty of their own when Mark Bitmead was impeded and he made no mistake.

The second half still did not find Ashford playing at their full capacity for which credit to some extent must go to the dogged approach of the visitors but after seeing two more efforts hitting the woodwork and rebounding to safety, which has now happened something like a dozen times this season, Ashford were enjoying greater possession and it finally told in the 75th minute, although the goal was controversial.

Valley had conceded an unnecessary free kick out on their own right flank and Bitmead swung the ball inhigh towards the keeper.  He though misjudged it and although he managed to touch it on to the bar it dropped behind him before being cleared, but not before crossing the line according to the assistant referee.  It must have been a very close matter and maybe represents the sort of luck that Ashford never once seemed to get last season when they were at the foot of the table.

Valley protests were in vain though and just three minutes later there was no argument about Ashford’s third goal, which came from “Ashford man of the match” Jack Mullan.  A bullet header from a corner was without doubt the goal of the game and was enough to see Ashford through yet again.

New signing from Hanworth Villa, Philip Osuhar came on near the end for his debut and Ashford will be in good heart as they prepare for next Saturday’s 1st Round FA Vase tie at home to Sussex League side Loxwood.  There will be more on that one during the week, although it should be noted that if the scores are level after extra time the replay will be on the unusual night of Thursday 6 November.

Ashford were also aggrieved at a soft caution for Samad Kazi near the end but in a match that saw very few bad fouls, Mole Valley had more cause to be upset with referee Desai who managed to put six of their team in his notebook, which will undeservedly cost them an FA fine for so called multi-player misconduct, which really was not the case at all.

Other results yesterday were mixed as always but another defeat for Spelthorne at Farnham Town (1-2) saw them lose ground whilst Guildford City finally got their act together winning unexpectedly at Molesey by three goals to two, after being three up.  Ex-Ashford player Matt Baxter saw red for Molesey, with a Guildford player also leaving the field.  Cove scraped through 2-1 against Horley, as did Camberley at home to Epsom & Ewell (1-0) whilst Windsor were this week’s “odd man out” without a match.

There is no midweek match for Ashford this week but the Under-18’s will travel to Frimley Green on Tuesday evening for a Ryman Youth League match.

Finally it is good to see some consistency within the squad with a far lower turn over of players than in recent times.  To illustrate the point, Tyler Tobin, Conor Moody and Tom Brunton have all now passed the 50 match mark, whilst Samad Kazi is now over 100.  They all have a long way to go to beat Russell Canderton’s 529 whilst behind him are Mark Bitmead with 164 and Jack Mullan on 140.

 

It’s back to the League on Saturday as Ashford welcome visitors Mole Valley SCR for their first ever competitive match at Short Lane, kick-off 3.00 p.m.

Last season Mole Valley flirted dangerously with relegation and needed a point from their final match of the campaign, at home to Horley, to maintain their Premier Division status.  By an amazing co-incidence, Horley also needed just a point, a draw being good enough to keep both teams up, leaving Ash United in the final relegation position.  The League and Ash were present at the match to ensure fair play but there was no need as both teams went for the win, hell for leather and in the end a remarkable match, in which the initiative swung from one to the other, finally finished in a 4-4 draw.

This season our visitors have done far better and will arrive today in 9th place in the table with five wins and five defeats from their fourteen league matches to date.  Their best result in terms of goals alone, has been a 4-0 home win over Westfield, and their worst a 0-6 defeat at Windsor.  They experienced a hiccup on Tuesday evening, slipping to a 2-5 defeat at home to Horley.

For Ashford, it would seem that Ben Murray has an almost complete squad from which to pick his side, including possibly a new player, and inevitably, no matter who he selects, the team should be full of confidence, having hit four goals last Saturday at Epsom & Ewell and then another four against a strong Spartan S. Midlands side in Harefield United on Tuesday.  Indeed we have hit three goals or more in all but one of the last ten matches which takes some doing and  is a great credit to all the players not just the forwards.

Other matches on Saturday include Molesey at home to Guildford City, Cove at home to Horley and Camberley at home to Epsom & Ewell and it will be a surprise if any of our main challengers drop points this week.  Spelthorne are away to Farnham Town, who have shown signs of improvement lately whilst Windsor are this Saturday’s “odd man out” without a game.

Ashford’s next match is, of course, the FA Vase clash against Loxwood next Saturday but we can start to contemplate that one next week.

Our very young U18 side is getting closer to their first win, losing 2-3 to Chertsey on Wednesday evening, the visitors scoring the decisive goal in the 90th minute.

It took 120 minutes of often pulsating football to separate two teams both flying high in their respective leagues but in the end Ashford came out on top, scoring three goals in extra time to win this 1st Round Middlesex Senior Cup tie by four goals to one.

Ben Murray continues to rotate his squad with finesse and this time Ryan Dearden and Tom Hill took the full back positions.  Kieran Wright came back in to partner Russell Canderton at the back, with Jack Mullan having a rest from the bench.  Ashford were without  Elliott Jones, Joe Hughes and Rob Curtis, who took a knock on Saturday, but the latter two will hopefully be back raring to go on Saturday.  Elliott is now just 2-3 weeks away from returning.

The start was delayed due to referee Cresswell deciding at the last moment that Harefield’s white shirts clashed with Ashford’s tangerine and white stripes, not, for what it’s worth, an opinion shared by this writer.  Harefield did not have a second strip with them so Ashford were obliged to wear their alternative colours.

The match was fast and sometimes furious from the start with Harefield looking strong, with the stiff breeze, although hardly a hurricane, behind them.  Their long ball game allied with some fast front runners caused Ashford’s generally mean defence a few  problems and it was indeed the visitors who drew first blood on 15 minutes when a looping header found the top corner of the net.

Referee Cresswell, quick to caution Mark Bitmead and an opponent for overdoing the banter, then angered the Ashford bench by arguably not dealing properly in home eyes with a dangerous looking two footed tackle on Bitmead that left the Ashford man needing considerable treatment.  It merited just a yellow in the referee’s eyes.

Generally though both sides kept playing football and, following the turn round it was Ashford who benefited from the elements.   Nevertheless it took a long time to break the visitors down but finally, with just under 20 minutes left, it was Dan Fleming  who was slipped in and he made no mistake from close range.

Mr. Cresswell had only added just over two minutes in the first period despite several stoppages but seemed to want the match settled over 90 minutes as he added on more than six minutes in the second period.  It was to no avail though and extra time commenced.  Conor Moody then made the break through that Ashford had been threatening and, as so often happens in extra time, further goals followed.  Moody made it 3-1 with a blistering effort and just three minutes later Fleming made it safe as the referee played a good advantage, to make the final score 4-1.

It was CCL 2 Spartan League nil on the night as Bedfont Sports saw off the challenge of Hillingdon Borough just down the road, and Bedfont will now visit Ashford in the next round, which incidentally will necessitate the postponement of Ashford’s scheduled league clash at Chertsey Town on Tuesday 11 November.

In the League there were two interesting matches.  Windsor, who knocked seven past Chertsey last week, won by four goals to nil at Hartley Wintney, whilst Saturday’s opponents Mole Valley SCR surprisingly lost 2-5 at home to Horley Town.

There is another match at Short Lane this evening, when Ashford U18’s take on Chertsey U18’s in the Ryman Youth League, kick-off 7.45 p.m.

Finally, a word for groundsmen Steve Honey and Liam Balmer.  Ashford’s pitch has been improving week by week and last night it would be fair to describe it as absolutely immaculate, and surely appreciated by the players.  Thank you Steve and Liam for your hard work.

Ashford will entertain Harefield United from the Spartan South Midlands League on Tuesday evening in the 1st Round of the Middlesex Senior Cup, the prize for the winners being a home tie against either Bedfont Sports or Hillingdon Borough who also play on Tuesday.

Over the years we have only met Harefield on four occasions all in either the Senior Cup or the Charity Cup.  The most recent meeting was last season in the 3rd Round of this competition, when we contrived to throw away a one goal lead in the final minutes, the final result being a 2-1 win for the visitors.  Perhaps the match that stands out in the memory was the one in 2006 when an exciting match in the Senior Cup saw a 3-3 draw after extra time (Ashford scorers Matt Baxter 2, Darren Deegan) with Ashford finally winning 7-6 on penalties, although the shoot-out was not without its controversies.

Harefield currently sit in 6th position in their table with 24 points from 13 matches.  On Saturday they needed a late goal to rescue a point in a 2-2 draw at Hoddesdon and prior to that they beat London Colney by two goals to one, a week after sustaining quite a heavy defeat against one of the title favourites Colney Heath by four goals to nil.

We have not given too much publicity to Gary Tomany’s Sunday side this season.  They are now playing in Division 2 of the West Middlesex Sunday League and have started well in the division with two league wins from three games, the most recent being a 7-4 home win against Bedfont Sunday, with Tom Chaffey scoring four of them.  Unfortunately they could not maintain that form yesterday, losing by seven goals to two against the eloquently named Load of Gold FC.  Next Sunday the lads have another cup competition when they will play away to AFC Feltham Sunday in the 1st Round of the Keel Cup, kick-off 1.30 p.m. according to the Mittoo website.

It looked a tricky encounter on paper and home side Epsom & Ewell certainly made it harder for Ashford than many of the teams they have played this season but in the end, the Tangerines came away with a 4-2 victory, taking their chances clinically when the opportunity arose.  There was no doubt as to the Ashford “Man of the Match” in the returning shape of Dan Fleming, who showed how much he had been missed whilst injured, notching his first competitive hatrick for the club, with the ever reliable Mark Bitmead getting the other.

Ashford were still without Elliott Jones so Joe Green made only his second 1st team start at right back, whilst power house Max Webb also returned to the starting line-up.

After a fairly uneventful opening period, Ashford opened the scoring on 15 minutes when Fleming charged down a clearance and re-acted swiftly to neatly plant the ball past the lumbering Michael Eacott in the home goal.  Ashford supporters, present in good numbers, relaxed as the Tangerines seemed to have gained the whip hand but credit to the home side who fought back and equalised on 39 minutes when everyone seemed to stop, leaving Tyler Tobin to race out of his goal but he was never going to make it and a low cross saw Jack Mullan putting the ball into his own net.

Instead of building upon the goal though, Epsom then pressed the suicide button conceding two further goals in the few minutes that remained before half-time.  The first was largely due to a strong run by Conor Moody, on as sub for the injured Rob Curtis.  Two or three attempts to knock him off the ball failed and a perfect ball out wide to Fleming saw the latter slip it across to Bitmead who made no mistake.  From an attacking point of view, it was a quality goal.  Two minutes later it was Fleming once again, who left Eacott floundering, to give Ashford a comfortable two goal cushion at half-time.

Epsom though showed they are made of strong stuff and despite almost conceding again at the re-start, they gradually got on top, and central defenders Russell Canderton and Jack Mullan had to be at their best to stem the tide.  Tobin, superb all afternoon, then had to make the save of the match as Russell Canderton almost emulated his partner in scoring an own goal but eventually the pressure told and with just over 15 minutes left, Epsom’s Ferdinando was first to a cross, glancing the ball home.

Epsom sensed blood but as they pushed forward they were leaving gaps at the back, which was always dangerous given Ashford’s quick fire strikers and Eacott, who had looked very uncertain in the first half, made two flying saves that would otherwise have made the game safe rather earlier for the visitors.

As the game wore on, one sensed that Epsom had given it their best shot but it was still a mighty relief for the Ashford supporters when Fleming hit another quality strike to close the scoring at 4-2 to Ashford.

The pleasure of victory was slightly tarnished right at the death when Conor Moody was though on goal only to be tripped as he went through.  Instead of going down he tried to keep his feet but in going for the ball he caught the keeper who got there just in front of him.  Ashford were amazed to see the referee who otherwise had done well, pull out the red card.  It was very harsh on Moody and with the decision being a free kick to Ashford just outside the box, the visitors were entitled to wonder why the defender who, seconds earlier, had committed the foul, was not red carded himself for preventing a goal scoring opportunity.  At least though, this referee managed to turn up on time, blow the whistle at the right time for half-time and add on an appropriate amount of time at the end, a minute longer incidentally than allowed by last week’s referee at Spelthorne.

News came through that Spelthorne had beaten Cove but all the other challengers won.  Nevertheless Ashford are now just one point behind the Hampshire side, with a match in hand.

There is some fixture news this week.  Firstly the Surrey Senior Cup match away to Woking has been fixed for Tuesday 4 November, which means that the home game against Ash has been put back for a fortnight to Tuesday 18 November.  In the meantime, another busy week looms with the 1st Team playing at home to Spartan S. Midlands side Harefield United on Tuesday evening in the Middlesex Senior Cup.  We lost to them last season in the same competition when two late goals gave them a 2-1 victory after James Awosifan had given us the lead.  Also, there is now a date for the League Cup tie away to Camberley Town, which will be on Tuesday 9 December.

Next Saturday we have a home league match when we will have the pleasure of entertaining Mole Valley SCR for the first time ever in a competitive match.  They have been doing well this season after narrowly avoiding relegation last time round and it is bound to be a difficult encounter but more on that later in the week.

The Under-18’s are also at home this midweek, on Wednesday, when they will play Chertsey Town U18 in a Ryman Youth League match.

 

 

Ashford travel to meet 7th placed Epsom & Ewell on Saturday at their adopted home of Chipstead FC.  It goes without saying that it will be a difficult match as Epsom are certainly one of the clubs with promotion in mind.  They were right up there last season until falling away a little near the end to finish in 3rd position, whilst this season, after a fairly indifferent start, they have hit some form with four wins out of six in recent league matches and they also registered a 2-1 home win over Knaphill in the League Cup on Tuesday.

It is known that Epsom always try to play good football and the generally excellent Chipstead pitch should suit both teams.  The address of the ground is High Road, Chipstead, CR5 3SF.  It’s quite a trek off the A217 along narrow roads but you do get there in the end!

Whether past form can be used as any kind of reliable indicator is very doubtful, which is a shame as we have generally had the better of things, whenever we have met over the years.  The very first meeting, back at their original ground if the writer’s memory serves him well was in the Preliminary Round of the FA Vase in October 1993, when an Andy Smith goal helped us to a 1-1 draw after extra time  For whatever reason, the replay did not take place until 17 October 1993, when once again extra time was required before we managed to go through by three goals to one, scorers Keith Hoad 2 and Michael Scott.

Meetings between the two clubs were fairly sparse after that until the early 2000’s when we met regularly in the Ryman League but in recent times the only two meetings have been in the Surrey Senior Cup, in 2005 and 2009, the latter occasion being the semi-final prior to our victory over Woking in the Final.  It was an even game and the final score of 4-1 in our favour possibly did not reflect the overall play but no-one from Ashford was too concerned, our scorers being Billy Jeffreys, Scott and Warren Harris, and Ricky Wellard, now at Sutton, of course.

The fates have been fairly kind to us in terms of cup draws this season but not so in the 3rd Round of the League Cup (the Cherry Red Records Premier Challenge Cup to give it its full name) as we will travel to Camberley Town, who ousted Molesey on penalties earlier this week, after a nil-nil draw.  There is no date yet nor a new date for the postponed encounter at Chessington & Hook on Tuesday in the S. Comb. Cup

With tonight's match off, don't forget that we have a social evening at the Club on Thursday when Ben Murray and the players will all be present.  Just about every player has now been sponsored, which is absolutely brilliant and this will be an opportunity for sponsors and supporters generally to meet with and mingle with all the players.  Ben will be giving a short summary of how the season has gone and how he sees it panning out.

The evening starts around 8.00 pm at the Club and everyone with an interest in Ashford Town is very welcome to attend, especially our members from the Junior Section.

Please note that this evening's match away to Chessington & Hook is OFF, as their pitch is waterlogged.

An unusually ill-disciplined Spelthorne side, who saw two players sent off and a member of the Management team removed from the bench, held on to share the points with Ashford in a one-one draw.

There was little hint of what was to come as both teams tested each other out in the early stages, with little to choose between them.  An early goal might have changed things but whilst Ashford created some good opportunities, the final effort was always either wide, or more frequently, lacked power.  Spelthorne also looked less than penetrative although they certainly came closest when one effort had to be cleared from the line.

In a match that had barely seen a foul to that point, Spelthorne’s leading scorer, Lee Staples then launched himself into what appeared to be a double footed tackle on Rob Curtis.  There was probably no desire other than to win the ball back but any tackle of that nature is always likely to receive the ultimate punishment, and it did on this occasion, with referee Farrer quick to brandish the red card.

The match proceeded to half-time without further incident but the home tactics rather dictated the course of the game after that.  Spelthorne had clearly decided that a point would do in the circumstances and that defence was their best tactic.  They proceeded to crowd their penalty area with players, launching long balls when they could to just one up front, and he was a tricky customer at times, keeping Ashford busy whenever he did manage to secure the ball, until surprisingly he was later taken off, although substitute Flatman continued in the same vein.

Then, on a rare foray Spelthorne took the lead.  A corner was swung in and ex-Ashford player Perry Luckins inexplicably found himself in acres of space and gave Tyler Tobin no chance with a powerful header.  Spelthorne sensed that their tactics were working and intensified them as Ashford probably had anything up to 95% of the possession but simply could not find a way through.

Frustration was setting in but eventually the pressure did tell and it was “goal a game” skipper Russell Canderton, who levelled things up with an identical bullet header to that of Luckins.  Soon after that we had some more fireworks when Luckins, almost inevitably, knowing his temperament, was sent off after incurring a second caution.

That effectively reduced the match to something of a farce although the home side will doubtless point to the point achieved as justification for their tactics.  They defended well, very well in fact, but the time wasting that went with their efforts was extreme and whilst Mr. Farrer made a good start in that respect by cautioning the keeper, he seemed to lose interest after that, generally turning his back on so many situations where the ball was quite deliberately booted away to waste every second possible.

Ashford mounted wave after wave of attacks but simply could not make their efforts tell, the nearest effort coming from sub Dan Fleming, whose overhead kick went just wide.  Spelthorne could have rubbed what would have been some salt into the wounds when another player put a header over the bar when he should have scored.

Mr. Farrer had clearly had enough and blew his whistle with less than three minutes added on, leaving Ashford to reflect upon probably their worst performance of the season overall.  It needs though to be put in perspective!  Ten wins and one draw from eleven matches, with the away draw coming against one of their championship rivals is no mean feat.  It must not be allowed to de-rail what has so far been one of Ashford’s best seasons for many years and let there not be too much criticism of this excellent squad for one hiccup.

We move on and in a little spell of away matches, Ashford go to Chessington & Hook United on Tuesday in the 2nd Round of the Southern Combination Challenge Cup, to see who will travel to CB Hounslow in the quarter-finals.

Chessington are currently bottom of Division One but knocked Spelthorne out of this competition and have played fewer league matches than many of their immediate rivals and it is without doubt a false placing.  Ben Murray will doubtless rotate his squad to an extent for the game which kicks off at 7.45 at Chessington’s ground, Chalky Lane, Chessington, KT9 2NF.  The next league match comes on Saturday when Ashford travel to meet Epsom & Ewell, at their adopted home of Chipstead FC.

As they look forward to the short trip to Spelthorne Sports on Saturday, when plenty of away support is expected, Ashford have been given an extra boost by the news that Dan Fleming has recovered from injury and will be back in the fold for tomorrow’s key clash, leaving Ben Murray with a virtually injury free squad from which to choose his line-up.

It sounds fanciful but it can be argued that West Middlesex has become something of a local hot bed of football over the last few seasons, with clubs such as Hanworth Villa, Bedfont Sports, Staines Lammas, CB Hounslow and others all emerging from intermediate football and Ashford’s opponents on Saturday, Spelthorne Sports, are the latest example.  Spelthorne were promoted at the end of last season from Division One of the CCL and have made a more than solid start to life in the Premier Division, despite a little hiccup in the last few matches.

Their current manager of course is Paul Johnson who played for Ashford over several seasons, making a total of 265 appearances and scoring 52 goals in the process, before leaving the club at the end of the Mark Butler era.  Paul still plays and if any club is aware of his quality it is Ashford.  Off the field, the Club achieved miracles in a very short time in bringing its ground up to the desired standard and it will be interesting to see if they intend to commit to the significant additional work that would be required if they were to move up to Step 4 football.  Other ex-Ashford players at Spelthorne Sports include Lee Simpson, Shane Graham and more recently Harry Driver and Perry Luckins.

The match kicks off at 3.00 p.m. as usual and just in case anyone is not aware, the address of the ground is Spelthorne Sports Club, 296 Staines Road West, Ashford Common, TW15 1RY.  The ground can only be entered on the left as you come from a Sunbury direction.

Other matches tomorrow include table toppers Cove who are away to Colliers Wood United, the latter incidentally having won every single home game since we managed to win there right at the start of the season, whilst Molesey entertain Raynes Park Vale, who won at Guildford in the week.  Camberley are away to Chertsey.

Coming up next week, we shall be away to Chessington & Hook United on Tuesday evening in the 2nd Round of the Southern Combination Challenge Cup whilst on Thursday we have a “Meet the Players” evening.  All the players will be present and a warm invitation is extended to all Ashford supporters to come along, especially if you have been kind enough to sponsor an individual player.  For the first time ever, just about every player has been sponsored, which is an indication of the “feel good” factor at the Club at the moment, and it will be good to see an excellent turn out.

Ashford have been drawn at home to Loxwood FC in the 1st Round Proper of the FA Vase, to be played on Saturday 1 November.

Loxwood come from the Billingshurst area of West Sussex and this is their first ever season in the competition.  They had a bye in the 1st Qualifying Round and beat fellow Sussex League side Steyning Town in the 2nd Qualifying Round.  The Club have advanced fairly rapidly from the West Sussex League into the Sussex County League and were promoted from Division Two to Division One at the end of last season after finishing in 3rd place.  In their first season at the top Sussex level they currently sit just below halfway in 12th place having won two, lost two and drawn five of their nine matches to date.

We have never previously met up with our opponents at any level.

Sixteen other CCL clubs are also still in and with three all CCL ties, plus Hanworth Villa who come in at the 2nd Round stage, following their good run last season, the League is guaranteed a minimum of four clubs at the very least in the 2nd Round.  Other ties involving local clubs include Spelthorne Sports, who will travel to Pagham in Sussex, and Chertsey Town who will host Horley Town.   Bedfont Sports are not having too much luck geographically as after travelling to Northants in the previous round, they now go the other way down to Horsham YMCA, whilst  Knaphill go to Lordswood in Kent.

So much for the writer’s theory that we would play a club from Northampton or Bedfordshire as we seem to have been put back in the South East “pot” which is good. 

Ashford duly made it ten league victories in a row with a 3-1 win but visitors Chertsey Town certainly did not make it easy for the Tangerines and played their full part in an entertaining match, in front of an excellent attendance of 162, which incidentally bettered the attendances at five Ryman Premier Division matches on Saturday.

Ashford were still without Dan Fleming but all the players who had missed the midweek League Cup tie against CB Hounslow returned and once again the bench looked extremely strong.  Chertsey had suffered a pre-match blow when two of their players went to Ashford in Kent by mistake and could only be named on the bench.

Chertsey had enjoyed a good win in the League Cup in midweek and were further buoyed when they took an early lead through Joe Jones on just four minutes following an uncharacteristic error at the back.  Veteran John Pomroy, who had gone close in the opening two minutes, also showed he had not lost any of his craft, despite the attentions of re-called skipper Russell Canderton and could not be ignored as the visitors looked eager to bring Ashford’s long winning run to an end.  Ex-Ashford defender Ben Ewing was a little too eager on one occasion chopping down Joe Hughes just outside the area and he will know he was fortunate to escape a caution from the generally benevolent Mr. Letheren in the middle, who nevertheless controlled the game sensibly, as evidenced with just the one caution near the end for one of the visitors.

Despite Chertsey’s best endeavours,  Ashford were starting to enjoy more possession and despite an unusual wastefulness at times when passing the ball around, an equaliser was looking likely, with both Joe Hughes and Mark Bitmead going close.  It duly arrived just on the stroke of half-time when a low cross from with Bitmead or Hughes (no-one seemed certain) found the lively Jack Beadle turning the ball in at the near post.

It was an important time to score and although Chertsey never once made it easy, one sensed that the tide had turned.  Indeed the writing was possibly on the wall as Bitmead almost at once hit a shot cum cross that became yet another Ashford effort this season to come off the woodwork.  There was no further scoring though before the break.

Chertsey suffered a blow just on the hour mark though when they lost central defender Steve Newman to injury and as Ashford continued to press, they eventually went in front with just over fifteen minutes on the clock.  Some good movement led to Hughes on the ball just outside the area and he let fly with a low effort that was past the keeper before he could move.

That just about ended Chertsey’s resistance and Ashford made is three with ten minutes left, through Russell Canderton.  A corner kick was not properly cleared and with the ball bobbing about it wound up in the net courtesy of Ashford’s longest serving player, making his 535th appearance for the Club.  There was an element of good fortune about the goal as, although completely accidental, it certainly touched Canderton’s hand before it crossed the line.

Jack Beadle was the worthy recipient of the “Ashford man of the match” award but once again, few could be faulted, apart from the careless spell in the first half.  There were not too many other league matches yesterday as the majority of the clubs were engaged in the FA Vase.  Cove though kept it up with a 3-1 home success over Guildford City.  In the Vase nine clubs won through and they will join those clubs who were exempt.  The draw for the 1st Round Proper will be announced on Monday and whilst it is always an unknown, the days when we always seemed to be drawn against Surrey or Sussex sides seem to be over.  The writer would almost bet that we will be drawn against a club from the Bedfordshire/Northamptonshire area but we will see.

There is no midweek match for the 1st Team this week but the Under-18’s will entertain Cobham U18 on Wednesday evening in the 1st Round of the Grant-McLellan Youth Cup, kick-off 7.45 p.m.

Before that, on Tuesday evening, there is another match at Short Lane when Staines Lammas will host Sheerwater in the 1st Round of the RPM Records Division Challenge Cup, also kicking off at 7.45 p.m.

Ashford play at home to Chertsey Town on Saturday and will be looking to make it ten league wins in a row.  That said, Ashford are very much aware that Chertsey are likely to pose a greater threat than maybe one or two of the clubs they have played in recent weeks, having overcome a miserable start to the season which saw them lose their opening three league matches.

They will arrive in 15th place in the table having won four and lost seven league matches to date with no draws.  On Wednesday evening they enjoyed a confidence boosting victory over Hartley Wintney, albeit in the League Cup, winning by four goals to two.  Two of the four were scored by ex-Ashford player Pietro Palladino, who came on at half-time and had a major influence on the match, scoring twice.  He is on dual registration with Godalming Town so may not be with Chertsey today but as we all know at Short Lane, Pietro can be a real threat if he is not carefully watched.  Allied to that is fellow striker John Pomroy who also had a season with Ashford, although it seems a long time ago now. John seems to have been around for ever and maybe doesn’t have the pace he used to but he still has the craft and certainly knows where the net is, as demonstrated on Wednesday evening.  The third ex-Ashford player in the Chertsey ranks at the present time is Ben Ewing, who gave everything for us in his 21 matches for Ashford last season.  This is an opportunity to thank Ben who never gave less than 100% in our colours.

Prior to Wednesday, Chertsey suffered defeat at home to Cove in the League, losing narrowly 2-3, Cove’s winner coming from the penalty spot near the end.  Prior to that, they were beaten at home 0-2 by Knaphill but in between the results enjoyed a good 3-1 victory at Westfield.

There have been fourteen previous competitive meetings between the clubs over the years but by far the most exciting clashes came fairly recently in the 2011-2012 season when there were three games, two in the league and one in the FA Trophy.  The first clash was in August of that season when we won a close match by five goals to four, but in the FA Trophy a few weeks later, Chertsey had their revenge, winning in the Trophy by six goals to five, after a stupendous fight back by Ashford which in the end was not quite enough.  The third match of that campaign was a less exciting 2-1 win for Ashford.

Last season, of course, both clubs were in the Southern League and honours were shared with Ashford winning 4-3 at Chertsey, courtesy of goals from Samad Kazi (2), Alex Duffy and Mark Bitmead, while Chertsey won here by two goals to nil in January.

One other current Ashford player who will remember scoring against Chertsey is skipper Russell Canderton who hit the first goal in a 2-0 win back in November 2002, nearly twelve years ago, in a Ryman Division One South match, the other coming from Richard Butler.

There are not too many league matches on Saturday as many of the clubs will be battling it out in the 2nd Qualifying Round of the FA Vase to see who can make it into the 1st Round Proper.  We have a bye until that stage, as do Chertsey, and the draw will be made on Monday.  In order to reach the Final we would have to play eight matches, including a two-legged semi-final, a very tall order but the competition is solely for clubs playing at Steps 5-7 and in blowing our own trumpet for once,  we are currently one of the leading clubs at Step 5, based on league positions.  If we believe we can win the thing, who knows?  We haven’t played in the competition for many years but our best ever effort was in the 2000-2001 season when we reached the 4th Round (last 32) only to lose to Oadby Town from Leicester by the only goal of the game.  That though is getting ahead of ourselves and it is important that 100% concentration goes into this afternoon’s match.

There is some fixture news.  The Under-18’s have been drawn at home to Cobham U18 in the 1st Round of the Grant-McLellan Youth Cup and will meet Cobham U18 here at Short Lane next Wednesday, kick-off 7.45 p.m.

The 1st Team will travel to Chessington & Hook United in approximately two weeks on Tuesday 14 October in the 2nd Round of the Southern Combination Challenge Cup, the latter having overcome Spelthorne Sports in the week, on penalties, after a 1-1 draw after extra time.

Finally today, a big thank you to Bob Lewis for his donation of the smart new cabin you cannot avoid seeing in the ground as you come in.  That will be up and running shortly and a big thank you also goes to Dan Butler, Chris Canderton, Simon Munns and others who helped in the demolition of the old building and the arrival of the new one.

Cherry Red Records Premier Challenge Cup - 2nd Round

Ashford 5  CB Hounslow United 0

As the match proceeded towards its inevitable conclusion, the mood was tense as speculation grew and rumour persisted that visitors CB Hounslow would become another team this season not to provide a boardroom representative after the match.  Perhaps word of the Chairman’s fricassee had gone round but he was ready this time and surprised us all with a steaming cauldron of chili con carne that could not be faulted.

The rumour became the inalienable truth as realisation dawned that CB were indeed not going to be present.  Not a visiting committee man could be seen but disaster was again averted as six good men and true from the Tangerines, some rarely seen in a boardroom before, and one fair lady, in the comely shape of Mrs. Cox, gathered round to pass their verdict upon the Chairman’s offerings.  Even Deputy Groundsman Balmer had laid down his pitchfork and tucked in.  Junior Chairman Bailey, surprisingly, moderated his consumption after the previous week’s excesses but referee Kelly, already making his third appearance of the season, soon to become four, and his worthy assistants, were all up for it and by the end there was not a grain of rice to be seen.  The Chairman told a story or two and everybody was entertained, apart from the nameless two who fell asleep. It was thought though they may have heard the stories before and were excused.

As to the match itself, Ben Murray had made no less than nine changes from the side that took the field on Saturday, with several of the lads getting their first start after spending weeks on the subs bench and it was good to see them getting a game.

CB were something of an unknown quantity.  They had won fair and square in a pre-season friendly at Short Lane and had made a reasonable start to their season but had slipped a bit lately and had lost 1-6 to Cobham in their previous match. 

It became clear very quickly that the changes had not unduly weakened Ashford and within seven minutes the game was effectively over as Ashford scored twice.  The first came from the spot after Samad Kazi had been fouled and without usual penalty taker Mark Bitmead on the field, it was Ryan Dearden, later named  “Ashford Man of the Match”, along with Tom Hill, who stepped in and very confidently rolled the ball into the corner of the net.  CB keeper Samson Okpor could not be faulted for that one but he could for the next. This time it was a free kick from just outside the area and Clarke Thorley’s effort, whilst on target, had little pace and should not have presented a problem.  Sadly for CB the keeper somehow misjudged the flight and ended up helping the ball into the net.

Ashford seemed almost immediately to rather take their foot off the pedal after that but whilst the visitors played some nice football at times, they rarely threatened to get a foothold into the match and the inevitable third goal arrived just before half time when Kazi outstripped the defence and just managed to elude Okpor’s last gasp lunge, which would otherwise have surely seen him sent-off, and shot into an empty net.

The second half saw Conor Moody making it four on 52 minutes, after which the match rather meandered towards its conclusion.  CB continued to play some neat but generally ineffective football when in possession, although Ashford were lucky not to concede a penalty (and a sending-off) when a visiting forward took a tumble.  It looked all the world like a foul from the far end, and there were some dark mutterings indeed from the CB bench but referee Kelly was up with play and saw nothing wrong.

Kieran Wright incurred the sole caution of the evening but the final word went to Kazi, who deep in stoppage time, nodded in a fifth goal after Max Webb’s piledriver had been charged down by Okpor, who, apart from his early error, had played well for the visitors.

Ashford await the 3rd Round Draw but do now know that they will be away to Chessington & Hook United in the 2nd Round of the Southern Combination Challenge Cup, the latter having beaten Spelthorne Sports on penalties last night in the 1st Round after a one-one draw after extra time.

In the League, there were good wins for both Epsom & Ewell and Westfield, at the expense of Guildford City and Badshot Lea respectively, whilst managerless Hanworth Villa picked up a point against FA Cup heroes Raynes Park Vale.  As in previous seasons, Old Hamptonians demonstrated that they are no mugs, winning 2-0 at Ash United in the S. Comb. Cup.

Ashford now look forward to the visit of Chertsey Town on Saturday and a preview of that one will be on the site later in the week.  Finally thanks to Pat Munns who has provided some professional looking programme covers which most certainly enhance the efforts of Phil Marshall and Mark Tobin upon the inner pages.

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