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.

Ashford return to Westfield FC on Saturday after an absence of nearly 15 years.  It would be stretching matters to hope that we can rely upon past form but the last visit there was on 18 December 1999 when we managed a 4-0 win, courtesy of goals from Andy Frost, Tony Nolan (pen), Anthony Eggington and Des Vertannes.

As previously stated both Westfield, the place, and Westfield the club are different these days.  After gaining promotion back to the Premier Division at the end of the 2012-2013 season, Westfield performed very creditably last season, finishing in 4th position.  Their ground is now the envy of many and unrecognisable from the old venue.  Visitors need to enter the ground by turning left into Woking Leisure Centre (more or less opposite to Woking FC) and then walk across from the Leisure Centre, where you can park, into the ground.

Westfield did not get their season off to a good start losing 0-4 at Mole Valley but by all accounts the match was considerably less one sided than it sounds.  On Tuesday evening, they drew at home to Hanworth Villa, when neither side could break the deadlock.  The writer cannot think of any players who have played for both clubs in the past but one current player who made headlines in the last campaign for Westfield was keeper Craig Bradshaw, reckoned by many to have been the best keeper in the CCL last season.

Kick-off is 3.00 p.m.

We now have the draws for the Middlesex Senior and Charity Cups.  In the 1st Round of the Senior Cup, we once again find ourselves drawn at home to Spartan S. Midlands side Harefield United, with the winners at home to Bedfont Sports or Hillingdon Borough in the 2nd Round.

In the Charity Cup we have another home tie, against Southall, with the winners at home to either North Greenford United or Enfield Town.

Dates for these matches have still to be confirmed, especially in the Charity Cup as we hope to reach agreement with our opponents to play the tie as soon as possible.

The first points of the season always come as a relief and Ashford duly achieved theirs on Wednesday evening with a reasonably convincing 3-0 victory away to Colliers Wood United, a win that takes the Tangerines up to 8th place in the fledgling table.

On a truly immaculate surface, Ashford did not start well, with the home side dominating the early possession.  Ex-Ashford player Mario Quiassaca was prominent at this point and with Ashford defenders tending to dive in, the immediate thought was that a very difficult match was about to unfold.  Indeed, only  Tyler Tobin with a super tip over prevented an early goal.

Matters changed quickly though as Ashford, in just about their first attack of menace, took the lead on six minutes.  It was the pace of the movement that caught out the home defenders, with the final ball being swept across to Jack Beadle who made it look easier than it really was as he slotted the ball past Lee Pearce in goal for the Wood.

Just four minutes later it was two, as a similar movement, with Mark Bitmead prominent, and this time it was Dan Fleming on target as he finished off another excellent move, for his first goal competitive for the Club.

Ashford continued to play excellent football when in possession and Pearce was kept busy.  He should have been beaten though when the ball twice came off the inside post in a frenzied few seconds before being booted to safety. That said, it was far from one-way traffic though as the home side continued to pass the ball around when in possession and more than once Ashford had cause to be grateful for Tobin’s competence.

Overall though, Pearce had been the busier keeper and this pattern intensified in the second half.  Whilst the home side always looked dangerous on the break, with pace of their own, it was largely Ashford who dominated but they struggled to beat Pearce, who sometimes demonstrates surprising agility for a big man, amply illustrated by one flying save from a fierce Bitmead effort.

Apart from one occasion though when the ball had to be cleared off the line, Ashford were not really looking as if they would concede and with sub Joe Hughes having two efforts whistling just wide, when he probably should have scored, and Pearce saving plenty of other efforts, it looked as if they would have to be satisfied with the two early goals.

However, some limited frustration set in towards the end and the home side had a man dismissed for a second yellow following a poor challenge on Russell Canderton.  Ashford took advantage just three minutes from the end of normal time, when Rob Curtis advanced in midfield, and unchallenged, despatched a perfect and quite deliberate effort into the bottom corner of the net to make it three.

Ashford now travel to Westfield on Saturday and will surely be in confident mode.  Westfield though are one of the League’s most improved clubs in recent seasons and supporters who have not been there since Ashford last played in the CCL, will be amazed by the transformation that has taken place in recent times.  On the basis of last year’s form, Westfield suffered a surprisingly heavy 0-4 defeat on the opening day against Mole Valley SCR but steadied the ship in midweek, playing out a goalless draw against Hanworth Villa.  There will be a more extensive preview on the site before Saturday.

 

Ashford travel to Colliers Wood United on Wednesday evening for a 7.30 p.m. kick-off for their second CCL match of the season.  Like the Tangerines, Colliers Wood also made a losing start on Saturday, Hartley Wintney scoring the only goal of a competitive match that apparently could easily have gone the other way. 

It was only last season that Ashford travelled to Colliers Wood in the Surrey Senior Cup, coming away with a 2-1 victory courtesy of a last minute goal from Mark Gallagher in one of the few matches he played for the club.  Robbie Sitch scored the other.  It is a mark of changing times that just four of Ashford’s entire squad for that game are likely to be involved this evening.

Last season Colliers Wood endured a frustrating season at times but rallied to clinch a respectable 17th placing by the end, steering themselves clear of any relegation problems well before the finish.

The address of the ground is the Wibbandune Sports Ground, Robin Hood Way (A3), SW20 0AA.  If coming along the A3, in order to get into the car park, it is necessary to go past the ground and come back on yourself.  It is quite a lengthy detour and the car park is small, so if you arrive at the last minute, you won’t get into it.  The entrance is just before the big footbridge over the A3 and don’t miss it or you’ve got another long detour to come back for a second go!

It may be better to park in the service road on the opposite side to the ground and walk back over the footbridge.

It is possible that three players who have worn Ashford’s colours in the past may be on show this evening for Colliers Wood, namely keeper Lee Pearce, plus Mario Quiassaca and Qaseem Sotonwa.  One player to watch out for though is Mario Embalo, Wood’s very pacy striker, who has been with them for a number of seasons now and is usually impressive.

The majority of clubs played last night and results are always particularly interesting at this early stage of the season.  The stand out result was a 0-9 home reverse suffered by Chertsey at the hands of Molesey, whilst Knaphill, who were beaten decisively by Camberley on Saturday, got their first point on the board with a 1-1 draw at Frimley, the home side only equalising right at the death, after Knaphill had gone down to ten due to injury.  Ashford’s next opponents Westfield shared a goalless match  with Hanworth Villa, whilst newly arrived Spelthorne made it two out of two with a 2-1 win at home to Bedfont Sports.  Sports took the lead in this one but once Spelthorne equalised, Bedfont didn’t really look like getting it back.

 

Ashford’s return to the CCL did not go as planned as visitors Cove went away with all three points in a narrow 2-1 victory.

A sizeable crowd witnessed an entertaining match in which both sides played a full part but Ashford will be kicking themselves that they failed to turn significant periods of possession into goals.  The profligacy of the strikers was then matched by the defence who first allowed Cove to strike the first blow from a corner kick, and then, after Ashford had equalised on the stroke of half-time, they conceded the winning goal to Cove, with 15 minutes left, when skipper Russell Canderton failed to clear the ball, attempting instead to pass it back to keeper Tobin who was then caught in possession.  It was a poor goal to concede at a time when Ashford looked as if they might well have gone on to win the match.

It’s only one game though and positives were to be had, not least the manner of Ashford’s goal when Mark Bitmead blasted his way past three attempted tackles before smashing the ball home from an acute angle.  The goal gave Ashford the momentum they were seeking and it seemed at times as if they must score.  The best effort came from Max Webb whose rocket cannoned off the bar to safety but Cove keeper, Sam Freeman Johnson handled just about everything else thrown at him with great confidence.

Indeed, apart from the admittedly crucial areas of finishing and defending properly, Ashford played some good football for long periods against one of the better CCL teams for sure and showed enough to suggest that they will win plenty of matches this season.  The next attempt is on Wednesday evening, when Ashford travel to Colliers Wood United, when the match will kick off at 7.30 p.m.  More on that one later.

Referee Harrison Read, handling his first Step 5 match, was confident and had a good match, spoilt only by an extremely harsh caution for Bitmead for kicking the ball away, when the player had kicked it against the boundary fence, clearly intending for it to rebound to the keeper.  Ashford were hardly going to waste time a goal down with three minutes left!

Ashford entertain Cove FC this afternoon in their first match back in the CCL for 14 years.  In the mid to late 90’s, Ashford dominated the League winning it five times out of six before going on to higher pastures but it is a far more professional league than it was back then and Hampshire based Cove will provide stiff opposition after finishing in 5th place last time round.

Kick-off is 3.00 p.m.

In the meantime the Sunday side continued their pre-season preparations on Wednesday evening, winning 6-1 against a young Spelthorne side.  Manager Gary Tomany sent us a brief report with the scorers as follows:

During our preseason game Ashford Town managed to win 6-1 with one of our new players Levi Jefford scoring the first goal just after 2 minutes. Paul Lapersonne scored on 20 minute. Anthony Lapersonne then scored on the 36 minute. Paul Lapersonne then scored just before half time on the 43 minute. Christopher Getty then scored on the 52minute. Finally Anthony Lapersonne scored on the 89 minute. 

 

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