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Although just a friendly, Ashford will have benefited from a morale boosting 4-1 victory over Brentford’s U21 Development side on Friday evening.

As might have been expected, the match was rather different from a normal CCL match, with both teams passing the ball with fluidity, and more noticeably, an almost complete lack of dissent at any stage towards referee Simon.

The first ten minutes saw Brentford showing how it should be done and it was all feet to the grindstone, so to speak, to keep them out at that stage.  Ashford soon settled though and started to play some good football themselves, with Tommy Brunton standing out, with his excellent use of the ball.

Suddenly the Tangerines hit Brentford with three goals in four minutes shortly before half-time.  Samad Kazi got the party going, followed by Dan Fleming and then up popped Jack Mullan.  All could be described as well crafted goals except maybe the second, when Fleming got on the end of a huge clearance from Tyler Tobin, making no mistake, but a poor goal to concede from the visitors' point of view

The second half saw Brentford, who made a number of changes, come out with far more purpose and for a little while it looked as if a repeat of Tuesday’s debacle might be on the cards, especially when they pulled one back through Montell Moore. 

There wasn’t the intensity in the Brentford side that was so evident with Windsor though and with the ship having been duly steadied, Kazi notched his second near the end, to restore the three goal margin on the night.

For Ashford, Jack Mayger came on for his first appearance of the season, whilst substitute keeper Jake Taylor showed that if Tobin were ever to be injured, he would be a capable deputy, making one exceptional save near the end.

Tommy Brunton won the “Ashford Man of the match” award, and for those who stayed on, a big thank you to Tyrone Fernando for the excellent evening he put on in the club after the match.

Ashford manager Ben Murray was furious with his troops on Tuesday evening as they allowed a 2-0 half-time lead over Windsor evaporate into a 2-3 defeat, Windsor’s winning goal coming in the last minute of the match.

There were two changes to the line up, with Elliott Jones back from injury, restored at right back, whilst Conor Moody started, with Joe Green and Max Webb dropping to the bench.

On a night when every other CCL match was postponed, the pitch was in incredible condition and reflects great credit on Steve Honey and Liam Balmer, and their colleagues.  A late inspection at 6.00 proved to be a formality.

Ashford started well, extremely well in fact, taking the match to their opponents and running up a two goal lead, the first after just six minutes when the keeper kept out a decent effort from Samad Kazi but the rebound went to Dan Fleming and he made no mistake.  The second came on 24 minutes when Jones marked his return with a low effort that found its way into the net.

The game evened up for the remainder of the half and there was no further scoring.

The match changed after the interval.  Windsor adopted different tactics, sending in a succession of long balls into the penalty area and succeeded in pressurising the home defenders who found themselves hard pressed to contain the persistent wave of attacks.  The pressure did not take long to tell and two goals were conceded within seven minutes to bring the visitors level.

At that point there only looked one winner but Ashford did manage to steady the ship to some extent and both Kazi and Fleming had good opportunities to redress the balance but to no avail and with a share of the points looking inevitable, Windsor’s Dunbar popped up with the winner in the 90th minute, as Ashford over stretched themselves and got caught at the back.

Ashford can take stock as they look forward to entertaining a Brentford side on Friday evening, kick-off 7.30 p.m. before their next league match away to neighbours Chertsey Town on Tuesday of next week.  Ashford have missed the fire power of Mark Bitmead since his injury at Hartley Wintney and he will hopefully now be back next week after sustained treatment.

Finally last night, a big well done to all three officials who by universal acclaim were excellent, especially referee North, who refereed a match of high intensity with common sense and no fuss.  Thank you also to all the spectators who showed up on a rotten evening, weather wise and with European football on TV.  Don’t forget that admission on Friday for the Brentford match is just £5, with all Under-16’s free and OAP’s at £3.

 

 

This evening's Ryman Youth League match at home to Northwood has been postponed.

FOLLOWING AN INSPECTION BY THE MATCH REFEREE, THIS EVENING'S MATCH AT HOME TO WINDSOR, IS ON

The pitch was absolutely fine an hour or so ago but the heavy rain in the last hour or so has placed a doubt upon this evening's match.

We still hope that it will go ahead but the match referee will arrive by 6.00 pm and will make his inspection.

If I am unable to put a further update on here, please phone the Club on 01784 245908.

The Premier Division of the CCL has an odd number of teams this season and this coming Saturday, It is Ashford’s turn to be without a match.

As a result, an attractive friendly has been arranged for Friday evening (28 Nov) when Ashford will entertain a Brentford FC squad which is likely to contain some of their senior players not in the squad for their league match on Saturday.  The match kicks off at 7.30 p.m. and with the Country evening also taking place at the Clubhouse on Friday evening, it will be a busy night!

Admission to this match will be just £5 (£3 concessions) and all Under-16’s will be admitted free of charge.

Everyone attending the match is warmly invited to join us in the club house afterwards, when our very own Tyrone Fernando is putting on a Country evening, again completely free of charge.

For the second match in a row, Ashford conceded two early goals to their opponents but unlike Tuesday, this time there was no happy ending for the Tangerines who ended up losing at Raynes Park Vale by three goals to one for their first away league defeat of the season.

Vale played down the considerable slope in the first half and within nine minutes they were two up as Ashford seemed shell shocked and effectively the match was settled in those early moments as the home side expertly utilised the conditions.

Nobody in tangerine seemed to be able to get the ball down and play their usual game, although Dan Fleming up front on his own did his best, but came in for some rough treatment throughout, rarely punished by an extremely lenient referee, although Ashford would have reason themselves to thank the official later on for his refusal to overdo the disciplinary side of things.  Jack Beadle was the pick of the visiting bunch, rightly winning the “Ashford man of the match award” but it was something of a hollow affair given the circumstances.

Even after Ashford had won something of a soft penalty for yet another foul on Fleming, just after the half-hour mark, struck home by Beadle, which one thought might have been the catalyst to get the team going, it just didn’t happen this week.

Playing down the slope in the second period, it is fair to say that Ashford enjoyed the majority of the possession but rarely looked like making it count.  Vale defended doggedly and confidently, it has to be said, and then made it 3-1 in their favour with 20 minutes left just after Ben Murray had made a triple substitution putting on an extra forward in the process in the shape of Phil Osuhor.  Despite the immediate goal against, that did seem to work to some extent and hope was almost re-kindled when Max Webb hit a thunderous shot that became the second effort of the afternoon to hit the woodwork and rebound to safety.  Ashford supporters will have lost count of the number of times that has happened this season!

A Vale defender was lucky to escape the ultimate punishment for a nasty challenge from behind on Fleming, but the Ashford player was himself equally lucky some minutes later for a petulant kick on an opponent in sheer frustration.

Nobody should be too downhearted though.  To not lose an away match until the end of November is quite an achievement and the other front runners have all dropped points recently, although we could have done without most of the others all winning on Saturday.

On Tuesday we entertain Windsor FC in what is bound to be an intriguing match.  More on that one later.

Ashford would like to send its sincere condolences to the families of both Ciaron Taylor, ex Chairman of Staines Lammas and to John Hanson, long associated with Staines Town both of whom have just passed away.

Ashford will travel to Raynes Park Vale FC on Saturday in search of league points.  It will be the Ash Trees first match at the venue since March 2000 but it holds memories for the visitors as it was here on 9 May 1998 that Ashford clinched the CCL championship for a record breaking fourth consecutive season, after a close fight with Reading Town.  Ashford managed to win that day by three goals to nil, courtesy of goals from Dannie Bulman, still going strong in the Football League, Lee Holman and Anthony Eggington.  Another small factoid is that Paul German scored in every one of his seven competitive matches against Raynes Park between 1995 and 1997.

Back to today and the Vale currently sit in 16th place in the table with 19 points from their 16 league matches, having won 5, drawn 4, and lost 7 of their matches.  They had a good start to the season but have only won one of their last six league games.  Nevertheless they have only lost one league match at home, that being 2-4 against Westfield.  From memory, the pitch has a distinct slope and they will obviously know the best way to use that to their advantage but conversely Ashford always seemed to do better when they went up the slope in the past.  Vale also had the distinction of being the final surviving club from the CCL in the FA Cup this season, when they reached the 2nd Qualifying Round, before losing narrowly at Billericay Town 1-2, after playing with ten men for much of the match.

The address of the ground is Prince Georges Playing Fields, Grand Drive, Raynes Park, SW20 9NB and kick-off as usual is 3.00 p.m.  With Elliott Jones back in action, Ashford should be at or near full strength.

The draw for the quarter final of the Aldershot Senior Cup sees us pitted against Fleet Town, at Short Lane, on a date to be determined.  There seemed to be some confusion earlier in the week but it is confirmed that the next home league match is next Tuesday, 25 November when we entertain Windsor FC

Ashford’s last match in the Aldershot Senior Cup was in May 2012 when they actually won the competition, beating Badshot Lea in the Final at Aldershot Town FC.   They have not played in it for two seasons but on Tuesday evening they resumed their participation in the competition with a 2nd Round tie at home to Ash United.  On paper it looked a straightforward match with Ash now competing in Division One of the League but it didn’t turn out like that and whilst Ashford finally got the better of their old foes, they needed extra time to turn round a two goal deficit and then win by four goals to two.

Ben Murray took the opportunity to shuffle his squad, giving Jake Taylor his 1st Team start in goal, whilst Phil Osuhor came in up front after a couple of encouraging cameos from the bench.  A strong bench was held in reserve, including Dan Fleming.

For the first ten minutes it looked as if it was only a matter of time before Ashford scored as they totally dominated possession but the ball did not go in and suddenly Ash were causing problems as long balls to the speedy Nick Hammett up front saw them getting behind the Ashford defenders, who were caught too often up the field and out of position.

Even so it was a little out of the blue when Hammett confidently put the visitors ahead on 12 minutes.  There was no panic but the Ash keeper was playing well, pulling off one or two great saves, especially from Joe Hughes, and the whole Ash team grew in confidence, looking dangerous far too often for Ashford’s liking.   When they went two up on the stroke of half-time through Jake Griggs, it was becoming serious and doubtless there were a few well chosen words in the home dressing room at half-time.

Ashford needed a goal back quickly and fortunately for the home supporters they achieved just that on 55 minutes when Osuhor who had been non-stop in his efforts finally got on the end of the ball to poke home from close range.

Ash still had their moments and Taylor, son of ex Ashford stalwart Glenn Taylor, was doing well enough in the home goal.  One sensed though that Ash might struggle to hold on to their now precarious lead and so it proved on 78 minutes when Osuhor  hit his second of the match.  Ash were incensed as they felt the goal was offside and it must have been close.  For a little while they looked to be losing their discipline and referee Southwell, who seemed to take a long time with all his decisions, was kept busy.

Matters settled down and it was into extra time.  Ash could have gone in front again almost immediately, missing a golden chance but Ashford eventually notched again and whilst eagle eyed Eddie on the tannoy credited it to Fleming, it looked an o.g. to whose of us on the far side.  That finally did for the visitors and Samad Kazi made it absolutely safe just a few seconds from the end.

As with the cup match against Bedfont last week, Ashford as a whole did not show the intensity that they usually do in league matches but yet again they hit four goals, albeit with the help of an extra half hour and it is difficult to criticise this free scoring squad too much.  Ash looked decent at times and surely have it in them to finish in the top three in Division One this season to achieve promotion.

Kiern Wright was named as Ashford man of the match following the usual supporters’ poll, organised by Chad Beadle and he certainly had an excellent match.  Elliott Jones returned from injury from the bench and, although a little rusty, came through without any problems.  Of the fairly new boys, Taylor did fine after a shaky opening period while Osuhor will always take the eye with his non-stop running and he was rewarded for his efforts with the two opening goals for Ashford.

The draw for the quarter finals came through this morning and Ashford will entertain Fleet Town from the SW Division of the Southern League on a date to be arranged.

It’s back to the League on Saturday when Ashford will make their way to Raynes Park Vale for the first time since March 2000.  A match preview will be published over the next day or two.

In the League on Tuesday, the “big” match, Molesey v Windsor was postponed as the home pitch was waterlogged, but there were wins for Epsom & Ewell (5-2 at Mole Valley) and Hanworth Villa (4-3 at home to Horley) who have started to look up with a host of new signings, including ex-Ashford man Scott Todd, who scored last night.  The other league match saw Badshot Lea claw back two goals against Hartley Wintney, the game ending in a point apiece, following a 2-2 draw.

Ashford face Ash United on Tuesday evening at Short Lane in the 2nd Round of the Aldershot Senior Cup, when a victory for either side will see the winners into the Quarter Final of the competition, the draw for which has yet to be made or at least publicised.  Kick-off is 7.45 p.m.

Back in the 90’s Ashford and Ash United were for many seasons two of the main protagonists in the CCL, with matches between the clubs always keenly fought.  We have also met in a variety of competitions, including the Aldershot Cup back in February 2008, when Ashford managed to win by two goals to one, courtesy of goals from Wes Goggin and Brett Cooper.

This season Ash are playing in Division One of the CCL having been rather unfortunate to suffer relegation at the end of last season and currently sit in 6th place in the table with five wins and three defeats from their 13 matches to date.  They have suffered something of a dip in form lately, with two draws and two defeats in their last four matches.  They do though have the Division’s highest scorer Jourdain Coleman in their ranks, with ten league goals to date.

It was very remiss of us not to mention it before now, but the Club's best wishes go to Ryan Dearden who sustained an injury at work last week, which has left him with a broken arm, we believe.  Hopefully he will make a swift recovery.

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.

 

 

It’s back to the League on Saturday when Ashford will entertain Badshot Lea FC at Short Lane, kick-off 3.00 p.m.

Badshot made a poor start to the season but after changing manager they have recently prospered under new incumbent Mark Thomas, who last season guided Eversley & California FC into a promotion spot.  They contrived to throw away a 3-1 lead against a Mole Valley side reduced to nine men recently to lose 3-4, but other than that they have won five of their last six matches, including a 3-0 home win over Westfield on Tuesday evening and are clearly in confident mood, their recent run having taken them rapidly into the top half of the table.

They have recently been granted permission to develop their own ground, in Wrecclesham, and we wish them every success with that venture.  For the time being though they are ground sharing at Ash United FC.

One has to go back to the 1986-87 season for the last time that the clubs met in a league fixture when Ashford managed to win both matches, John Lawther and Andy Smith (pen) being the scorers at home in a 2-0 victory, whilst an og gave Ashford the win at Badshot.  That season was in the Surrey Premier League.

Since then there have only been spasmodic cup matches between the clubs with results varying widely.  Ashford’s finest moment was in the FA Cup in September 2009, when a 10-0 victory was recorded but Badshot had previously beaten Ashford by six goals to one in 2004 in the Aldershot Senior Cup.  Previous results though, will have little bearing upon Saturday’s encounter.

With the exception of Elliott Jones, who is now back in training, Ashford manager Ben Murray should have a full squad from which to select his team and this could be a cracker of a match.

Tyrone Fernando is putting on a Country & Western Evening at the Club on Friday 28 November starting at 8.00 p.m. and everyone is warmly invited to attend.  There is no charge as far as I know.

Country music tends to get stereotyped in England but it not all hee-haw by any means.  In fact that went out with the ark.  Come and enjoy yourself and hopefully hear some music from the writer’s favourite singer, the beautiful Emmylou Harris. (Just listen to “Michaeangelo” on You Tube to hear her voice at its best.) and many others.  There will be dancing and doubtless some of Mrs. Fernando’s famed cooking.  Western dress optional.

It will be a fun evening as always at Ashford so please come along to support the Club if you can.

Also we are very grateful to Quest Freight (and employee Stuart Lloyd) who have agreed to sponsor the match against Spelthorne Sports on Saturday 27 December, when we anticipate our biggest crowd of the season

Ashford went out of the Middlesex Senior Cup on Tuesday evening, losing on penalties after a 4-4 draw after extra time, to neighbours Bedfont Sports.  In a match that was never as exciting as the high goal tally might suggest, both sides nevertheless played some good football at times.

Ashford made a number of changes from Saturday and were without leading scorer Mark Bitmead, injured against Hartley Wintney.  There is good news on that front though as Bitmead is expected to be fit for the forthcoming league match on Saturday at home to Badshot Lea.  It was an evening to experiment just a little and included on the bench was the diminutive Jamaal Francis from the Under-18’s, who makes up in pace what he lacks in height.  Tommy Brunton, Max Webb and Jack Mullan were all given a rest, all three on the bench as well, no doubt with Saturday’s match in mind.  Phil Osuhor was also missing as he had already played for Hanworth Villa in this competition.

Bedfont had already lost in the League at Short Lane but they were definitely up for the match last night, whilst Ashford possibly played without the intensity that has generally been on show in the League.  Nevertheless it was the home side who took the lead shortly before half-time when Jack Beadle smashed in a shot from the edge of the area only for Bedfont to equalise on the stroke of half-time.

Ashford went ahead again ten minutes into the second period, through the unlikely source of Joe Green whose low effort across goal deceived the visiting keeper.  Not to be outdone though Bedfont equalised again and within five minutes with another decent effort.

When Beadle gave Ashford the lead for the third time on 78 minutes, it did look as if Ashford had finally cracked a very persistent nut.  With both teams tiring though, Bedfont were not to be denied and in the fourth minutes of stoppage time a snap shot well struck, even though it may have taken a deflection, levelled things up and ensured extra time.

With both Joe Hughes and Dan Fleming having gone off, and both teams tiring, it was anyone’s match, but the visitors possibly had that little bit of extra determination and went ahead for the first time on the match just four minutes into the extra period, only for makeshift striker Conor Moody, back from suspension, to level things yet again at 4-4.

And so to penalties.  It was first advantage to Ashford as Tyler Tobin saved Bedfont’s first effort and Beadle scored but both Max Webb and Rob Curtis both saw their efforts saved whilst the visitors had no trouble in notching their remaining four efforts.  Tommy Brunton scored his but it ended with Bedfont winning by 4 penalties to 2 and they will now go on to entertain Hanwell Town in the quarter final of the competition.

Make no mistake:  Ashford wanted to win the match but as defeats go it is not one that will be too damaging and news that Cove had only been able to draw at home to Raynes Park Vale, after being two down, certainly lessened the blow and possibly emphasises, if needed,  that no match or opponents in this league can be taken lightly.

After being the whipping boys at the start of the season, Badshot Lea won again, in the other league match last night, beating Westfield by three goals to nil, and there is no doubt that Ashford have a big game on their hands on Saturday and will hopefully react accordingly.

The result of the night though undoubtedly went to Mole Valley SCR who went to Godalming Town and pulled off an impressive 4-2 victory in the Surrey Senior Cup.  Spelthorne also beat higher league opposition in the shape of AFC Hayes, in the Middlesex Senior Cup, by three goals to one.

 

Ashford travelled to in-form Hartley Wintney on Saturday and failed to score for the first time this season, the match ending in a nil-nil draw.  With heavy rain falling throughout, to go with the squally conditions, it was touch and go whether or not it would go the distance as the ball started to stick and a decision to abandon the game following a prolonged inspection at half-time must have been mighty close, as the atrocious conditions persisted throughout.  There were two changes to the side that started at Woking.   Rob Curtis (injured) and Jack Beadle (unavailable) were missing, so in came Kieran Wright and Samad Kazi.

Whilst an away point at seventh placed Hartley, who had won their previous three matches, is perfectly acceptable, it should really have been all three as Ashford carved out numerous chances, especially in the first period but the usually deadly duo of Bitmead and Fleming could not quite find the finishing touch, and neither could anyone else.  Even when they got their efforts on target, the HW keeper was on top form, saving his side on more than one occasion.

Referee Bandara didn’t help the visitors’ cause either  as he denied two strong Ashford penalty claims, one for what seemed to be an obvious foul when Tommy Brunton was bundled over in the area and later for a handball where the defender seemed to deflect the ball with his arm.  To be fair, he also denied the home side an equally good shout towards the finish.

After Ashford had generally dominated possession in the first half, the second period saw the home side coming more into it, and whilst the visitors continued to press hard for much of the time they also had to do some defending on occasions which they did fairly competently, with Russell Canderton and Jack Mulan again on top of their game as indeed were Alex Fisher and Joe Green at full back. Fisher, in particular, continues to show a maturity beyond his tender years.  Right at the death though, Hartley almost snatched all three points, only for Tyler Tobin to come to the rescue with the sort of save we have become used to seeing this season.  In difficult conditions both keepers will be pleased to have kept clean sheets.

Apart from the point, there were various other plusses for the visitors, one in particular being that they laid to rest any thoughts that they might struggle as the winter conditions came on and the quality of the pitches invariably declines.  On a personnel basis, Phil Osuhor, on as sub for Bitmead, who sustained a knock, impressed with his power and direct play, whilst Joe Hughes whose skills have been missed, also returned from the bench after injury.   Max Webb was on top form and revelled in the conditions, winning the Chad Beadle “Ashford Man of the Match” award by some distance.

Credit must also go to the home side who defended doggedly in much the same way as Ashford had done at Woking on Tuesday evening and as mentioned might have snatched it near the end.  Indeed, all round, a big “well done” goes to both sides, who provided a decent game for the spectators considering the difficulties posed by the wind and the rain.

Other matches saw surprise defeats for both Molesey (at Badshot Lea) and Windsor (at Farnham) who lost by six goals to three, whilst the other championship contenders, Camberley, Cove and Spelthorne all won their encounters.

Ashford now have two home matches to look forward to, with Bedfont Sports returning for their second visit of the season on Tuesday evening, this time in the 2nd Round of the Middlesex Senior Cup.  Mick Snowden’s young side has picked up plenty of points this season and, although losing on Saturday to Epsom & Ewell, they can certainly not be taken lightly.  Next Saturday, it’s back to the League, as Ashford entertain a rejuvenated Badshot Lea side, who looked destined for relegation earlier in the season but a change of manager has seemed to do wonders and it will be an equally tough match.  More of that later in the week.

After Tuesday’s incredible win at Woking, Ashford will go into Saturday’s league match away to Hartley Wintney in great heart but manager Ben Murray will surely drum into his players that it is the League that matters most.  The win at Woking will not feel so good if Ashford were to put up a sub-standard performance at Hartley, who are on a good run themselves.

Our hosts will come into the match in 7th place in the table and after two disappointing home defeats (1-2 v Farnham, and 0-4 v Windsor) they have turned things round with three successive away victories, all by two goals to one, against Bedfont Sports, Mole Valley SCR and, last Saturday, at Frimley.

As past history is on Ashford’s side, we will mention it although we haven’t played a competitive match against our opponents since the year 2000 when, in our last season in the CCL until now, we managed to win by five goals to two at Short Lane, our scorers being Andy Sherwood, Lee Holman, Des Vertannes (pen) Darren Smith and Anthony Eggington.  Another link from Ashford’s point of view is that Hartley were our first ever FA Vase opponents back in September 1991, when we went through to play Havant Town courtesy of a 3-0 victory thanks to goals from Nigel Mathurin, Graham Hill and Andy Smith.

The Row, as they are called, play at the memorial Playing Fields, Green Lane, Hartley Wintney, RG27 8DL.  It is a straightforward journey, down either the M3 or the A30, into the village where you turn left at the duck pond at the end of the town and then take a right into Green Lane.  The ground is a little way down on the right and there is ample parking.  Our opponents wear orange shirts so we will doubtless be in our lucky blue kit once again and a final snippet of information is that we will be playing one of the oldest clubs in the League, Hartley having been founded back in 1897.  What would players of that time have made of the internet and everything that goes with it!

There are some interesting matches in the League on Saturday, with a rejuvenated Hanworth Villa going to Camberley Town, whilst there is a local derby at Spelthorne who entertain Chertsey.  Cove are also playing locally, at Frimley Green, whilst Molesey go to Badshot Lea who, like Hanworth Villa, are under new management.

Ashford are back at Short Lane next Tuesday when we entertain Bedfont Sports in the 2nd Round of the Middlesex Senior Cup, to see who will go on to entertain either Enfield Town or Hanwell Town in the Quarter-Final.

The Under-18’s lost 4-5 on Wednesday evening to AFC Hayes in the Middlesex Senior Youth Cup.

 

 

Ashford partly erased the disappointment of going out of the FA Vase with a 3-0 win at Conference club and current trophy holders, Woking, on Tuesday evening in the 2nd Round of the Surrey Senior Cup.

Ashford started with an unchanged team from Saturday.  The Woking pitch was immaculate and rain endured throughout. Woking fielded a strong team and dominated much of the possession especially in the second half.  What they seemed unable to match on the evening though was a stubborn determination by Ashford to defend for their lives, plus the ability to strike when the chances came along. 

There is little doubt that Ashford needed some luck, quite a lot of it, to say the least, but arguably deserved it on the night with a dogged display that saw them weather the early pressure and then take the lead on 20 minutes through Mark Bitmead, who received the ball wide on the left, cut in and unleashed a fierce effort into the far corner.  Indeed, both he and strike partner Dan Fleming, despite limited possession, both threatened at times to take further advantage from the sometimes over casual defending by the Cards

Woking showed their quality more than once but the visitors were generally coping well with the flowing football of the home side, with skipper Russell Canderton absolutely outstanding on his 531st appearance for the club.  Out of the blue, on 36 minutes, Ashford scored again when the Woking keeper, playing his first match for some time, made a hash of a back pass and Max Webb without even having to put in too much of a challenge, was able to slip the ball into the empty net to double the lead.  He had to be there though to put it in!  There was no further scoring before half-time.

With the rain still falling, making the pitch slick, it was backs to the wall time for much of the second half for the visitors but despite innumerable corners, Woking over elaborated almost every time and one way or another Ashford continued to guard their goal.  It looked as if the pressure was finally going to tell when the excellent Tyler Tobin in goal was late with his dive and conceded a penalty.  One or two were calling for a red card but there were three defenders behind the keeper and referee Lugg, who was excellent, correctly showed just a yellow.  Tobin then rubbed salt into the Woking wounds by somehow keeping out the spot kick low down at his right hand post.  It was a miraculous save and he just got better and better as he started to look unbeatable on the night.  For those who remember, his performance was on a par with that of Paul Burgess back in 1996, who almost kept Woking out singlehandedly that year in the same competition. 

With Fleming finally tiring, Ben Murray introduced both Kieran Wright and Phil Osuhor into the fray and it was the latter who was instrumental in the third and final goal when he charged down another attempted clearance, creating a further chance for the deadly Webb, who made no mistake, to spark wild celebrations on the pitch by the Tangerines.

We understand that the draw for the 3rd Round (last 16) will be made on local radio on 4 December, when Ashford will hope to draw another of the big guns, possibly AFC Wimbledon or maybe Sutton United, if they both get through of course, as all the other 2nd Round matches are still to be played.

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