Please note that Monday evening’s Youth match away to Aldershot Town has now been POSTPONED
Ashford manager Ben Murray commented after the match against Badshot Lea on Saturday that the Tangerines had won a “big three points” with their narrow 3-2 victory. By that, he was expressing the view, shared by plenty of other Ashford supporters, that this resurgent Badshot team are more than capable of taking points from anyone in the League and but for their poor start, would surely be up with all the other challengers.
Despite the optimism during the week, Ashford’s leading scorer Mark Bitmead failed a fitness test and thus was not quite ready to resume his normal goal scoring duties. Also, Phil Osuhor, who might well have started after impressing from the bench against Hartley Wintney, was absent with food poisoning. It was good though to see Elliot Jones back in the squad although he was not risked from the bench.
Fortunately, Dan Fleming enjoyed possibly his best match for the Tangerines up front, showing real quality at times, and it was fitting that he should score the opening goal on 12 minutes, as Ashford rather dominated the early exchanges.
Jack Mullan then doubled the lead with a deft header from a corner on 24 minutes and it seemed as if the Tangerines were well on their way to victory. The visitors though fought back and it was just as well that Ashford were back to something resembling their best form. Despite that though, the visitors pulled a goal back before half-time whenTyler Tobin could not quite control an effort from the impressive Turner and Dan Simmonds was on hand to turn in the loose ball.
Both reams were up for it but it was Ashford who may have felt they had made the match safe when Fleming hit a magnificent free kick into the top corner early in the second period, that even keeper Somerville, on loan from Slough, could not keep out, although he may feel he should have done, to restore Ashford’s two goal advantage.
Although the Tangerines could never relax, they seemed to be defending capably and it was indeed starting to look like job done until the visitors were awarded a penalty for handball by Robert Curtis, which was a tad controversial. The referee had clearly waved play on but was effectively overruled by his assistant who presumably was adamant that the handball was deliberate so the referee changed his mind. Turner made no mistake although Tobin guessed the right way but the power in the shot was just too much.
It was 3-2 now and game on. It should have been off again just a few minutes later as the rapidly improving Samad Kazi was pushed in the area as he was in the act of shooting. It was a clear but soft push and Badshot’s Hutchins could maybe count himself unlucky to receive a red card for denying a goal scoring opportunity, with the keeper racing out and a defender behind him. That said, the referee’s view was that the push definitely denied a clear effort on goal, which it did, so in law he was correct but it would have been a fair bet that some would only have showed a yellow. Sadly for Ashford, Fleming blotted his otherwise excellent copybook by blasting the spot kick over the bar, which had it gone in, would have given him a well merited hatrick.
Badshot had new momentum and despite being a man down they did the majority of attacking in the final fifteen minutes. Ashford man of the match, Mullan, along with his defensive colleagues, was kept busy but although the visitors came close, they could not quite manage an equaliser and following six minutes of stoppage time, it was another three points in the bag, probably deserved over the full match but as mentioned, Badshot Lea are a force to be reckoned with on this display, and will surely ruffle a few feathers as the season goes on. Both teams were given a genuine ovation at the end of the match for providing some excellent entertainment.
Most of the other matches in the League went ahead, despite a totally unforecasted downpour in the hour before the game, which resulted in controversial postponements at both Hanworth Villa and Sheerwater. Farnham Town must have thought the weather gods were against them as, following a late kick-off at Mole Valley, to allow the pitch to be forked etc., the fog descended and the match was abandoned with 15 minutes or so to go with Farnham leading 3-1.
Apart from Camberley, whose turn it was to be without a match, all the other teams at the top won their matches although Windsor were maybe fortunate, scoring twice late on, once after 88 minutes followed by a penalty in stoppage time to turn around a 0-1 deficit at home to Colliers Wood.
Weather permitting, there is a “big” game scheduled for Tuesday evening, when Molesey are due to entertain Windsor. Ashford are also in action but in the Aldershot Senior Cup, when Ash United will be the visitors to Short Lane, kick-off 7.45 p.m. After last week’s slip up against Bedfont Sports, we will want to do well in this competition, and a strong team can be expected. More on that one later.
The Under-18’s are back in action this week and face a tough game this evening away to Aldershot Town in the Ryman Youth League, kick-off 7.30 p.m.