Unfortunately, Ashford have had to cancel the planned friendly against Wokingham & Emmbrook on Tuesday evening, due to the fact that tenants Staines Lammas drew their FA Vase tie away to Irchester United on Sunday afternoon, and now have to replay the match at Short Lane on Tuesday.  Our apologies to Wokingham but the Vase tie has, of course, to be given priority.

Ben Murray has moved fast, as always, and has quickly arranged instead to play a low key friendly at Hanworth Villa on Tuesday, kicking off at 7.30 p.m.  Thanks go to Gary Jenkins, manager of Villa and the club for making these arrangements.

With the Under-18’s not having a match, that is the only midweek football involving Ashford’s senior teams in midweek, the next game being the home league match this coming Saturday against Guildford City.  More on that one later in the week.

There was little doubt that, over the full 90 minutes, Ashford deserved to win their ninth consecutive league match, beating visitors Farnham Town by three goals to one.  Indeed, it would not have been a travesty on the balance of chances created, had Ashford at least doubled their scoring tally and yet considerable credit goes to Farnham Town, who, when in possession, played some neat football, belying their lowly position in the table, and they succeeded in scoring against Ashford, the first side in five league matches to do so, and may have scored more as Ashford became a little careless at times.

Ashford were without Dan Fleming, injured, whilst Rob Curtis took his turn on the bench along with the returning  Samad Kazi and club captain Russell Canderton who at the moment cannot reclaim his place from young central defender Kieran Wright, who is growing in maturity match by match.

Ashford looked determined at the start and it took just eight minutes to take the lead when Mark Bitmead, slipped in by Joe Hughes, made no mistake.  Although Farnham sometimes looked dangerous on the break, Ashford continued to dominate possession but thanks to some determined defending, along with some weak shooting, which rather undermined the impressive approach work at times, there was no change to the scoreline before half-time.  Joe Hughes had come closest to increasing the lead, hitting a fierce low drive that hit the foot of the post and rebounded to safety.  The effort deserved a better reward.  So many efforts this season have hit the woodwork and come out again that maybe we ought to think about getting square goalposts back again.

It did not take too long though in the second half before the lead was doubled.  This time it was Tommy Brunton whose snap shot gave the keeper no chance.  That might have been the signal for the floodgates to open but Farnham had other ideas and having forced a corner, the unmarked Jack Dillon powered home an unstoppable header to give them a lifeline.

There was a period of anxiety in the Ashford ranks but Farnham did not often look as if they would achieve any greater success and the result was sealed when Jack Beadle, scoring in his fourth consecutive match, knocked the ball home to make it 3-1.

The Chad Beadle "Ashford Man of the Match" award this time went to Tommy Brunton, whose goal was a highlight of the game.

Other results saw both Cove and Molesey maintaining their challenge as both won but Spelthorne surprisingly lost again, this time by three goals to nil at home to Epsom & Ewell.  It was their first home defeat since March 2013, a wonderful record under the managership of ex-Ashford favourite Paul Johnson.

There are two midweek games this week.  This evening (Monday) the Under-18’s are away to Hayes & Yeading U18 in the 1st Round of the Lucas Fettes Cup.  It will be a tough ask as the Under-18’s continue to make their way through a set of demanding early season fixtures.  The match is to be played at the home of Bedfont Sports FC., where both teams can expect an excellent surface.

On Tuesday the 1st Team are at home again, this time in the 2nd Round of the Cherry Red Records Premier Challenge Cup, to give it its full name, against Division One side CB Hounslow United.  CB have found themselves in the lower reaches of the table in recent seasons but hopefully it will not be too long now before they move into their new home in Green Lane, Hounslow, when they can surely expect an exciting future.  This season they have shown an improvement and will arrive at Short Lane for the first ever competitive match between the clubs, in 12th place out of 16 in the Division One table, having won two league matches and lost four.  After an excellent win at Epsom Athletic, they have slipped in their last two league matches, losing 2-4 at Sheerwater and then 1-6 at home to Cobham on Saturday.

They have already visited Short Lane in pre-season and in a match played on the back pitch were good enough to beat the Ashford side that played that evening by the only goal of the match.  Kick-off on Tuesday is 7.45 p.m. and, if necessary, there will be extra time and penalties to ensure there is a winner on the night.  The draw for the 3rd Round has not yet been made but amongst other 2nd Round ties, all being played on Tuesday 14 October (our match has been brought forward because CB have a County Cup match on that evening) there are some interesting games, not least the clash between Camberley Town and Molesey.  Other ties include Bedfont Sports at home to Cove whilst Spelthorne Sports travel to Frimley Green.

Finally for the moment a big thank you to Phil Marshall and his assistants for organising the Race Night on Saturday and thank you to everyone who attended what was an excellent evening.

 

Ashford are back at home on Saturday when they will entertain Farnham Town FC in the League, kicking off at 3.00 p.m.

Farnham are currently in 17th place in the table, with one win and seven defeats from their twelve matches to date.  The victory was over Guildford City, but prior to Tuesday they drew with both Mole Valley at home and away at Raynes Park Vale.  We needed them to do us a favour on Tuesday at home to Cove but they were defeated by six goals to two.  Neither club appears to have produced a report on their respective web site as yet so we don’t know anything about the match but it is worth remembering that Farnham scored one more goal against Cove than we did.

Farnham were very much the side to beat when Ashford first entered the CCL in 1990.  In that first season as a senior club we went unbeaten for several games but Farnham were the club who inflicted our first ever senior defeat when they beat us on their own ground on 15 September 1990 by one goal to nil.  Not content with that, they then became the first ever club to win at Short Lane in December of that year, again by one goal to nil.  We met regularly after that until the last league match against them in April 2000, when a goal from Des Vertannes was good enough to secure all three points for Ashford.  Since then we have only met once and that was in the Semi-Final of the Aldershot Senior Cup in March 2012, when we managed to win by three goals to one, thanks to two from Kofi Lockhart-Adams and one from Perry Luckins, now at Spelthorne, along incidentally with Harry Driver who has recently joined them

Talking of the Aldershot Senior Cup, we are again playing in that competition and have received a bye in the 1st Round and will be at home to Ash United in the 2nd Round, to be played on Tuesday 4 November.

Following tomorrow’s match, we are at home again on Tuesday in the 2nd Round of the Cherry Red Records Premier Challenge Cup against CB Hounslow United.  This match has been brought forward from its first date due to CB having a County Cup match on the original evening. 

The Under-18’s were unsuccessful in the FA Youth Cup on Wednesday, eventually going down by six goals to one against a strong Met Police side.  Our scorer was Jamie Walters.  On the positive side, the lads never gave up and despite the scoreline are not too far away from developing into a decent side.  They have had some exceptionally tough opponents in their opening three matches but there is some fantastic pace in the team and they will soon start to win matches.

They are due to visit Hayes & Yeading next week in the Ryman Youth Cup (the Lucas Fettes Cup) but our opponents apparently have no venue available so it may (and only may, at the moment) be played here.  The web site will confirm as soon as possible.

Our thanks go to Alan Cox who this week has donated a complete set of new chairs for the club, including some very nice leather ones for the new boardroom cabin which will be arriving on 1 October, as a gift from Vice President Bob Lewis.  Our thanks go to Bob for this great gesture and also to Dan Butler, Simon Munns and others who have helped to demolish the old green building that had reached the end of its useful life.  Hopefully our visitors on Saturday will forgive us that the existing board room will be a bit squashed.

Finally, don't forget that we have a Race Night at the Club on Saturday evening, when everyone is welcome.  The players will be in attendance and you may make a few bob if you are lucky!

Ashford’s only midweek game this week features the Under-18’s who, this evening (Wednesday) will be entertaining Metropolitan Police U18 in the 1st Qualifying Round of the FA Youth Cup, both sides having received a bye in the Preliminary Round.  The match is at Short Lane and kicks off at 7.45 p.m. and there has to be a result on the night.

The winners will be at home to either Marlow U18 or Slough Town U18 in the 2nd Qualifying Round.  They also play this evening.

Met Police play in the Central Division of the Ryman Youth League and currently sit in 3rd place in the table having drawn 2-2 at home to Leatherhead and won 5-0 away at Crawley Down in their two league matches to date.  After playing well in their opening match against Wingate & Finchley, Ashford suffered a heavy defeat last week against Hayes & Yeading and will need to show considerable improvement if they are to make progress tonight.

In the Combined Counties League last night, although possibly not unexpected, results did not go Ashford’s way with both Molesey and Cove recording emphatic wins against Knaphill and Farnham respectively.  Ashford remain in 2nd place but Cove have opened up a four point margin at the top, albeit they have played a game more.  Spelthorne Sports play away this evening at Colliers Wood United.

The Club’s thanks go to Alan Cox who has arranged for a delivery of new chairs to the club.  They arrived yesterday and the clubhouse will be a little cramped until we can dispose of the old ones.  We also have some exceptionally nice leather chairs for the new boardroom which will arrive on 1 October.

If anyone can help this evening from 4.00 p.m. to demolish the old green building which has served us well but has now reached the end of its working life, you will be very welcome.  Please bing any demolition tools you have, such as axes and sledgehammers etc.

Ashford made it eight league wins in a row on Saturday beating Horley Town on their own excellent ground by four goals to nil.

After a first half that could have seen the Tangerines scoring more than the two they did, it was the home side who got on top for quite a while in the second period but they had no fire power on the day and two more goals in the final ten minutes ensured a comfortable victory for the visitors in the end.

In front of the League Chairman, Ashford produced some excellent football in the first half and whilst Horley looked dangerous once or twice, the level of possession enjoyed by Ashford led to them deservedly going in front on 27 minutes, albeit that the goal came from a fairly soft penalty.  There was no doubt that Mark Bitmead was the recipient of something of a shove and the referee could not be faulted in his application of the law but it wasn’t a huge shove and it is a fair bet that on another occasion a penalty might not have been awarded.   Bitmead took it and duly scored into the bottom right corner.  On the overall run of play, it was no more than the visitors warranted and when Bitmead scored again four minutes later, one wondered if the floodgates may open.  His name isn’t to hand but Horley’s keeper kept the home side in the match on several occasions, denying both Conor Moody and Bitmead’s fierce efforts, to name just two.

Ashford keeper Tyler Tobin was less busy but still had to be sharp on a few occasions but, as we have come to expect, he once again gave a flawless performance.  In the meantime Joe Hughes had come on for Dan Fleming, suffering from a knock.

The second half was different.  It was bound to be the case that the home side would be looking to fight back and they did so with gusto for quite a while.  Ashford were suddenly sloppy in possession and Horley should have pulled one back when a misplaced pass from Tommy Brunton, who otherwise played well, put Horley’s leading scorer Ashley Nadesan in on goal.  Fortunately for the visitors, his attempt to swerve the ball round Tobin went wrong and well wide.   Other efforts though were well saved by Tobin whilst Jack Mullan and Kieran Wright, ably assisted by full backs Elliott Jones and Alex Fisher, looked solid at the back for the visitors.

It was something of a surprise to Ashford's ever growing support when the buccaneering Moody was substituted but Ashford still made chances of their own and another excellent run from Bitmead had seen Brunton knock his effort just over the bar.  Joe Hughes and inevitably Bitmead also went close.  The match was sealed with ten minutes left and once again it was Bitmead, who thus completed his hatrick and was the well deserved recipient of the Chad Beadle “Ashford man of the match award”. Hughes in the meantime had been showing some fantastic skills on the ball, and had been unlucky not to notch himself.  Max Webb was the unwitting recipient of a clump on the head from Horley’s big central attacker in a curious and  isolated incident that inevitably saw the offender dismissed, leaving Ashford to finish matters off with the fourth goal in stoppage time, Jack Beadle scrambling it home to set his own personal Ashford record of scoring in three consecutive matches (four if you count the Hanworth Villa friendly).

With the news that Spelthorne had finally dropped some points, having shared a goalless draw with Camberley and that Molesey had lost against Hartley Wintney, the win was good enough to see Ashford nicely tucked in, in second spot behind Cove, who won again, beating Bedfont Sports by two goals to nil.

In other news, Ashford have added to their squad by signing Joe Green from Knaphill FC.

There is no midweek 1st Team match so the next outing will be on Saturday 27 September when Ashford will entertain Farnham Town, who could do themselves and Ashford a big favour on Tuesday evening when they entertain Cove in a local derby.  The Under-18’s, doubtless keen to improve upon last week’s display, are at home on Wednesday evening when they will welcome Met Police U18 in the FA Youth Cup, kick-off 7.45 p.m.

It’s back to the League on Saturday with Ashford making their longest trip of the season to play Horley Town FC, although it should not take more than 45 minutes.

It will not be easy with Horley having shown some form, especially in cup competitions recently, making progress in the FA Vase by three goals to two against Sevenoaks Town, and then,  on Tuesday evening, beating Division One side Sandhurst Town by five goals to one in the League Cup.  The player to look out for is Ashley Nadesan, who scored all five in Tuesday’s victory.  League form has not been quite so good, the most recent match resulting in a 3-4 defeat at Colliers Wood United.  Overall Horley sit in 12th place in the table with nine points from their eight matches.

Horley only moved to their impressive new ground a few seasons ago and the address is The New Defence, Anderson Way, Court Lodge Road, Horley, Surrey, RH6 8SP.  Court Lodge Road is a long windy affair through a large housing estate but you need to look out for Horley Leisure Centre as the ground is through the same entrance and just behind the Leisure Centre.  If you come in from one end, you need to go through the estate before turning left into the Leisure Centre, if you come from the other, it is a fairly swift right hand turn.

Although Southall made it difficult on Tuesday, it was Ashford who knocked in another three goals just as they had last Saturday at Frimley.   With players returning, Ben Murray will again have a difficult choice in selecting both his team and squad, with just about everyone seemingly on form at the moment.  With Spelthorne, Molesey and Cove continuing to set the pace though, nothing can be taken for granted and, as mentioned, Horley will be no push overs.  Kick-off, as usual, is at 3.00 p.m.

The Under-18’s suffered an unexpectedly heavy defeat on Wednesday, losing 0-7 to Hayes & Yeading and will need to improve if they are to have any chance of progression in the FA Youth Cup next Wednesday when they entertain Met Police U18.

A Boardroom crisis, occasioned by a paucity of officials from their opponents, threatened at one point to leave the Chairman’s after match casserole largely uneaten.  Fortunately it was narrowly averted with the help of Junior Chairman Nick Bailey, on hand to consume two large portions and he was ably assisted by MCFA rep Doug Douglas who also did his bit.

Prior to the match, Southall had not endeared themselves to their hosts by turning up late with referee Herb a little too readily agreeing to a delayed kick-off for Ashford’s liking.  The match finally got underway just over ten minutes late and it quickly became clear that Southall were going to prove worthy opponents playing some impressive football throughout the match that belied their mid-table position in Division One of the Spartan S. Midlands League (not the Hellenic as mistakenly quoted yesterday).

With both teams showing an exemplary attitude throughout the match, a very enjoyable game of football broke out.  The pattern generally was one of Ashford doing the majority of the attacking, shooting frequently, but seeing all efforts going wide or being saved and then having to be careful as Southall frequently counter attacked at pace, but without too much of a cutting edge.  Ben Murray had left leading scorer Mark Bitmead on the bench as well as skipper Russell Canderton but with Ashford dominating much of the possession, and buoyed up by recent performances, the Ashford faithful were reasonably confident of a breakthrough in the end.

However, the second half continued in much the same vein and when it got to less than ten minutes left and no extra time, one wondered if the first penalty shoot out of the season was looming.  Then it all happened as Conor Moody, always dangerous when coming on, finally thumped the ball past the nameless keeper (we didn’t get a team sheet from Southall) who had stood up to everything up to that point.  With Southall having finally abandoned their passing game which had caused Ashford so much frustration, it seemed the victory was in the bag but suddenly the visitors were attacking and Tyler Tobin, superbly alert all evening, had to push a fierce effort against the post to safety.  Another decent shot went just wide but in front of their new manager who must have been impressed at times, Southall had finally shot their bolt and Ashford doubled the lead in the first minute of stoppage time when Jack Beadle crashed the ball home for his second goal in as many matches. 

The floodgates were finally and fully open as Mark Bitmead then finished exquisitely with the third goal in the fifth minute of stoppage.

In terms of overall possession, it could be argued that the final 3-0 scoreline was about right but that would be to overlook the fact that Southall played some of the best football seen at Short Lane this season when in possession, and their pace on the break was a constant concern, although another clean sheet demonstrates that Ashford defended well enough, with young central defender Kieran Wright being awarded the Chad Beadle “Ashford Man of the Match” award.  Finally a word for referee Andrew Herb, officiating at his first ever senior match we were told.  Although it was not a difficult match to control, with both teams showing commendable behaviour, he was quietly confident in his approach and looks well placed to climb the refereeing ladder.  Must get it from his dad!

Ashford will entertain either North Greenford United or Enfield Town in the next round on a date to be determined.

All eyes now turn to the next league match, away to Horley Town on Saturday, Ashford’s longest trip of the season (although it will still seem like a local derby in comparison with recent seasons).  Horley disposed of Division One Sandhurst Town seemingly in style last night, winning 5-1 in the CCL League Cup (known as the Cherry Red Records Premier Challenge Cup, to give it its full name) and will not be easy opponents in their excellent stadium, but more on that one later in the week.

There is another match at Short Lane this evening  (Wednesday), when the Under-18’s have their second match of the season, at home to Hayes & Yeading U18, in the Ryman Youth League.  They will appreciate your support for the game which kicks off at 7.45 p.m.

 

 

Ashford have a rest from league competition on Tuesday evening when fellow Middlesex side Southall FC come to Short Lane to contest the 1st Round of the Middlesex Charity Cup, to see who will entertain either Enfield Town or North Greenford United in the 2nd Round.  Kick-off is 7.45 p.m.

Southall are, of course, one of England’s great non-league names but after losing their superb old Western Road ground in 1992, they were in the doldrums for several years but hung on in there and have now made their way back into senior football, playing in Division One East of the Hellenic League, in which they currently sit in mid-table with seven points from seven matches.

In the past more than one famous player has worn the colours of Southall but perhaps the most well known face these days is no longer on the field but their chairman, Tommy Taylor, ex-West Ham stalwart.  This evening’s match will be the first under newly appointed manager Emanuel Asare, appointed to the position over the weekend.

There has to be a result “first time” but for some odd reason there is no extra time in this competition.  If the scores are level after 90 minutes, the match goes straight to a penalty shoot out.

Unlike one or two in the past, manager Ben Murray is taking all the cup competitions very seriously this season and whilst it is not the FA Cup or Vase, Ashford will be fielding a strong team, although given the current excellent form in which every senior player is playing his part, it would be difficult to say exactly what our strongest team is at the moment.

Having mentioned Southall’s old ground, it was one of the highlights of our very first season in senior football, back in November 1990, to have the opportunity of playing there in the Middlesex Senior Cup, when a one-one draw after extra time necessitated a replay.  Due to not having lights at the time, Alan Boon at Staines was kind enough to allow us the use of Wheatsheaf Lane for the replay a week later and an incredible match saw us winning by six goals to four, once again after extra time.  Our scorers that evening were Andy Smith (2), Ian Miles (2), Colin Hammond and Nigel Mathurin.  Our team was Burgess, Oram, Wharf, Vaughan, Andrews, Xibberas, Hammond, Mathurin, Miles, Smith and Cloke, SUBS:  Hill, Steve Wyatt, Mark Wyatt and Fabian.  Ref was Mr. Barnard-Smith to whom we awarded 8 out of 10, so he must have done well!

Since then senior meetings with Slough have been spasmodic and always in one or other of the Middlesex Cup competitions.  The most recent occasion was back in November 1999, when we recorded a 1-0 victory, again after extra time in the Charity Cup.

Ashford have won this competition twice in our history and nobody who was there for the most recent occasion will forget it as we turned round three goals down against Northwood at half-time, only for Kofi Lockhart-Adams to come on and score four goals in a dramatic turn round which saw the game end four apiece.  Ashford then won the penalty shoot out and Kofi scored again.

It took some time but Ashford eventually recorded their seventh consecutive league victory, beating an obstinate Guildford City by three goals to nil, to move into second spot in the table.

Kieran Wright continued in central defence for Ashford, with skipper Russell Canderton at a wedding whilst Max Webb took his turn on the bench.  Samad Kazi is still on holiday returning this week.  At first, Ashford were unable to reproduce too much of the excellent football that has been a feature this season and their opponents certainly did not look like a team occupying a relegation place.  Referee O’Hene livened up proceedings with some of the loudest whistling heard for some time at Short Lane but there was nothing to get anyone too excited even though Elliott Jones looked to be the victim of a wallop on the head in the corner under the assistant’s nose at one point.  It may well have been accidental.

The game meandered along until the 30th minute but increasing pressure eventually saw Ashford take the lead, when a sublime through ball from Alex Fisher put in Dan Fleming and he calmly slipped the ball under Guildford keeper Antony Hall who had otherwise been up to everything thrown at him

Play had been slow at times and even after going a goal down, Guildford did not seem to over exert themselves to retrieve matters but a defining moment of the match arrived immediately after the break.  The consumption of three jam tarts had delayed the writer’s return to the pitch but he was just in time to see Tyler Tobin pull off arguably the save of the season so far as the defence seemed frozen waiting for the ball to be smashed into the net.  Tobin somehow managed to block the ball at almost point blank range.

After that, although by no means as one sided as one or two of the previous matches, Ashford rarely looked like loosening their grip on the game and had Dan Fleming, in particular, had his shooting boots on, although he was not the only one, Ashford might have made the match safer a lot earlier.

As it was, it was the ever industrious Jack Beadle who doubled the lead on 70 minutes, a snap shot entering the net low and close to the post.  Once again Alex Fisher was involved in the move.  Following that, Guildford seemed to lack the will to fight back to any great extent and there was clearly some dissent in the ranks, with Ashford making it three just five minutes later from the penalty spot.  Mark Bitmead’s effort was destined for the net but Guildford defender Elvis De Freitas pushed it away with his hand.  It was a good save but nobody could argue against the inevitable dismissal and Bitmead made no mistake from the spot, before leaving the pitch in favour of Clark Thorley, another exciting prospect, making his first competitive appearance of the season.

For the final fifteen minutes it was exhibition stuff from Ashford with all Guildford resistance seemingly broken Chances were still being squandered though and there were no more goals but it didn’t matter too much as news came through that Molesey had dropped their first points of the season at Cove, leaving just one 100% record, that being held by Spelthorne Sports who pulled off another decent win at Hartley Wintney.  The team of the day though, without a doubt, were Raynes Park Vale, who alone kept the CCL flag flying in the FA Cup, pulling off a 2-1 victory at Ryman League Ramsgate.  Let’s hope they get a good draw on Monday.  Our conquerors, Daventry Town, went out themselves, losing 1-2 at Hitchin Town.

After the match Chad Beadle’s unofficial “Ashford man of the match” award went to Alex Fisher.

It is another home game up next, on Tuesday evening, when Ashford entertain Southall in the 1st Round of the Middlesex Charity Cup.  They play in Division One East of the Hellenic League and currently occupy 11th spot.  A fuller preview will appear in a day or so.

Ashford will hope to record their seventh successive victory in the League on Saturday, when they entertain Guildford City FC at Short Lane, kick-off 3.00 p.m.

Guildford are currently in 19th position in the table with just a solitary win under their belt in the league, that coming in an away match at Farnham Town by the only goal of the game.  Nevertheless nobody expects an easy match and manager Ben Murray firmly believes that Guildford are in a false position at present and that they are certainly not a relegation team. Last week was apparently a case in point when Guildford lost at home to Chertsey despite dominating much of the possession.

Guildford won the CCL in successive seasons in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, losing just eight games over two seasons,  before they were granted promotion to the Southern League.  They were possibly more pleased than some to go into the Southern as opposed to the Ryman, as the club had enjoyed a major connection with the Southern League in the past.  After a decent first season they found themselves moved into the South West Division last season, with all the resulting trips to places like Taunton, Cinderford, Mangotsfield, etc., which, as we know ourselves only too well, is draining and the club found itself back in the CCL after just two seasons.

Meetings between our clubs are restricted to the 2012-2013 season, when in a remarkable match at the Spectrum, two very late goals turned a likely defeat into a 3-2 victory for Ashford right at the death.  That match was one of the last in which Dan Brown played for us and he marked it with a hatrick.  Dan, incidentally, has just been released by Staines Town.  We would love to see him back here but he has more than proved his ability to play at a higher level and will doubtless have offers from other clubs.

Guildford had their revenge in March 2013 when they came to Short Lane and won by three goals to one, ours coming from Kofi Lockhart-Adams, now at Burnham.

Although nothing can be guaranteed in football, there is no doubt that Ashford have been playing some tremendous football throughout much of this fledgling season which has been shown by the results.  Once again team selection will be difficult tomorrow, with everyone coming through the Hanworth Villa friendly in the week unscathed and the lads on the bench will be able to say to a man that they are unlucky not to be starting.  Guildford are one of the few sides in the CCL who have some travelling support and we are looking for a three figure crowd if possible.

Looking slightly ahead, we are also at home next Tuesday evening, when we entertain Southall FC, currently playing in the Spartan S. Midlands League, in the 1st Round of the Middlesex Charity Cup to see who will entertain either North Greenford United or Enfield Town in the 2nd Round.

Ashford played out a low key friendly at Hanworth Villa on Tuesday evening, it being an opportunity for both clubs to try out players and use as many members of the squad as possible.  Ashford had two of their Under-18 squad being given an opportunity and both took the eye, namely Gabriel Bediako, playing at left back and flying winger Jahmaan Francis.

The match ended two goals apiece, Ashford’s coming from Dan Fleming and Jack Beadle.

We thank Hanworth Villa for hosting the match.

There is to be a Race Night at the Club on the evening of Saturday 27 September.

Phil (Marshall) is organising it and with Phil having already sponsored one of the races, we are looking for six more race sponsors at £20 each.

Following that, the horses will be sold at £5 a horse

They are always good evenings, so please support the event if you can.

Unfortunately, Ashford have had to cancel the planned friendly against Wokingham & Emmbrook on Tuesday evening, due to the fact that tenants Staines Lammas drew their FA Vase tie away to Irchester United on Sunday afternoon, and now have to replay the match at Short Lane on Tuesday.  Our apologies to Wokingham but the Vase tie has, of course, to be given priority.

Ben Murray has moved fast, as always, and has quickly arranged instead to play a low key friendly at Hanworth Villa on Tuesday, kicking off at 7.30 p.m.  Thanks go to Gary Jenkins, manager of Villa and the club for making these arrangements.

With the Under-18’s not having a match, that is the only midweek football involving Ashford’s senior teams in midweek, the next game being the home league match this coming Saturday against Guildford City.  More on that one later in the week.

Ashford made it six wins in a row in the League on Saturday defeating Frimley Green by three goals to one.  Despite the previous assumption of being able to field a full strength side, Ashford found themselves without both Russell Canderton and Max Webb, unavailable, whilst Rob Curtis was only on the bench after a minor knock in the Daventry game.  Manager Ben Murray also shuffled his pack a little as Alex Fisher returned at left back and Conor Moody, Tommy Brunton , Joe Hughes and  Kieran Wright all started.  Tom Hill was a little unlucky to only find himself on the bench, whilst  Dan Fleming and Mark Bitmead continued to look threatening up top.

On a good albeit sloping surface, Ashford tried hard to re-create the smooth passing game that has been a feature so far this season.  Against physical opponents, who saw three men cautioned in the opening half, it did not always come off but Ashford were still able to turn round two goals up, both coming from Mark Bitmead, who also hit the woodwork with another fierce effort.  The two goals were both as a result of impressive combination play between Moody and Bitmead, both of whom were the main contenders for the Chad Beadle unofficial “Ashford Man of the Match award” won in the end by a single vote by Moody.

Things looked comfortable as the second half started but Frimley came out fired up and suddenly Ashford did not look as much in charge as they had for the opening 45.  It was crucial for the home side that they scored a goal to get back in the game, and they did so on 54 minutes, from the spot, when Alex Fisher’s tackle was eventually deemed to be inside the penalty area, after consultation between referee and assistant.  It was confusing as the referee initially awarded a free kick outside the area, and the assistant made no move to take up the penalty position, as they are apparently required to do this season, rather than putting the flag across the chest.  It was confirmed and admitted afterwards though that the referee eventually got it right.

For a while Frimley were in the ascendancy.  Their main tactic was to hit it long towards the big Darryl Bloxham, normally a defender but playing up front.  It worked to a large extent as the hard working Bloxham seemed to win the ball almost every time for a while but it failed in another sense as no-one was able to get on the end of any of his touches, which were a little hit and miss on occasions.

Nevertheless, Frimley remained in the match for an uncomfortably long period as Ashford spurned two or three opportunities to put the match beyond the home side.  Relief finally came though with around five minutes left, when a defensive error put Moody in possession and for the third time in the match he laid in Bitmead, whose finishing was deadly yesterday and he completed a well merited hatrick to put the game beyond Frimley.

It was another three points for Ashford but further proof that there will be no easy games in the way that there used to be when Ashford were in the League last time round.  Coming after the rigours of the two tough matches against Daventry in the FA Cup, the win though was good enough, with both Cove and Spelthorne in FA Vase action, to take the Ash Trees into second spot behind Molesey, who maintained their 100% record with a 3-0 win over Westfield.

In midweek Ashford are without a competitive fixture but will entertain Wokingham & Emmbrook on Tuesday evening, in a friendly, kicking off at 7.45 p.m.  As an added incentive, the current guest ale is Rev James 4.5% Bitter on tap from the Brains Brewery.  Brains is a Welsh brewery, based in Cardiff,  and this particular beer is brewed to a recipe first used in 1885.

Ashford have the pleasure of meeting up with Frimley Green FC on Saturday for the first time at senior level for almost 21 years, the last meeting in the CCL being on 18 December 1993, when a rare hatrick from Ian Miles, two from Keith Hoad and one from Lee Holman enabled us to win by six goals to two.  (For those who like nostalgia, our team that day was:  Underwood, Miles, Heggarty, Scott, Newey, Lyons, Mathurin, Silbery, Wharf, Holman, Hoad  subs, Hammond and Rix).  Not many of our matches against Frimley though were that straightforward as Ashford have only won once in their four previous games at Frimley.

Frimley gained promotion to the Premier Division of the CCL in time for last season and finished in a creditable mid-table position with 57 points from their 42 league matches.  This season they again find themselves currently in mid table with one win, two defeats and three draws from their six league matches to date.  Like ourselves they went out of the FA Cup last week, losing narrowly to Hartley Wintney, whilst in their most recent league match they drew four apiece at Farnham Town.  One player springs to mind who has played for both clubs and that was as recently as last season when Jamie Connor left us to join Frimley.  He has since moved on to Reading Town.

The address of the ground is Frimley Green Recreation Ground, Frimley Green Road, Frimley Green GU16 6JY and there is plenty of parking available.  The entrance to the ground, on the left hand side as you come up from the town is signposted, but it is quite easy to miss so best go steady as you come up Frimley Green Road

Ashford are still smarting at the unfair manner in which they went out of the FA Cup but now have five consecutive league wins under their belt and whilst it will be far from easy, a win at Frimley could just take them to the top of the league if Molesey were to drop points at home to Westfield, with both Spelthorne and Cove in FA Vase action.  Ashford should be at full strength.

With no competitive match in the coming midweek, Ashford have arranged a home friendly next Tuesday evening against Wokingham & Emmbrook from Division One East of the Hellenic League, kick-off 7.45 p.m.

Thanks to the efforts of Commercial Manager, Angie Payne, Ashford have secured various forms of sponsorship from a number of new firms and organisations recently.

We are obviously extremely grateful to Angie but perhaps we can publicly thank the following who have been kind enough to support the Club.  I would stress that this is only the first list and I am aware that there have been some more recent sponsorships that we will feature in the next list.

If you can patronise any of the following establishments, and mention that you have done so due to their association with the club, please do so:

Kouchins Indian restaurant in Ashford

The Moon In Moon Chinese restaurant in Sunbury

The Stanwell Hotel

Vermuelens Garden Centre

Peter Doble

Heathrow Personnel

Norman Prince Opticians

More to follow

 

 

Thanks to the efforts of Commercial Manager, Angie Payne, Ashford have secured various forms of sponsorship from a number of new firms and organisations recently.

We are obviously extremely grateful to Angie but perhaps we can publicly thank the following who have been kind enough to support the Club.  I would stress that this is only the first list and I am aware that there have been some more recent sponsorships that we will feature in the next list.

If you can patronise any of the following establishments, and mention that you have done so due to their association with the club, please do so:

Kouchins Indian restaurant in Ashford

The Moon In Moon Chinese restaurant in Sunbury

The Stanwell Hotel

Vermuelens Garden Centre

Peter Doble

Heathrow Personnel (Max Webb’s mum)

Norman Prince Opticians

More to follow

 

 

If proof were needed of the standard of Under-18 football in the Ryman Youth League, it was on show last night at Ashford.  The new Tangerines were excellent at times but visitors Wingate & Finchley, also playing some lovely football at pace, were that little bit better in the first half, although there were no goals at the break.

A free kick early in the second half gave the visitors the breakthrough but Ashford fought back and came so so close to equalising shortly afterwards.  Everyone at the other end thought it had gone in but somehow it was cleared.  Ashford seemed to grow into the match after that and probably deserved to share the points by the end of the game.

The solitary goal meant that all three points went to Wingate but football was the winner with both sides deserving of the applause at the end.

The Under-18’s have an early rest next week but will entertain Hayes & Yeading U18 in a fortnight’s time on Wednesday 17 September, kick-off 7.45 p.m.

Ashford were absolutely fuming to have been knocked out of the FA Cup on Tuesday evening after another stirring encounter against Daventry Town, which saw the home side win the replay by two goals to one.  Three controversial decisions, all going against the visitors, contributed massively to the defeat, although once again, the Tangerines gave a hugely encouraging performance that bodes well for the league matches to come.

Manager Ben Murray decided to give Conor Moody his first start of the season, following his sterling performance from the bench on Saturday, and also brought Rob Curtis straight back following his absence on Saturday.  Tom Brunton and Joe Hughes were unlucky to have to step down to the bench, joining Samad Kazi, being used sparingly at present.

Daventry clearly had not under-estimated the visitors after Saturday and the home side looked far more determined than they had in the previous encounter, starting well but without causing Tyler Tobin in goal too much trouble.  As they had on Saturday, though, Ashford were soon in the game and once again enjoying more of the possession. Ex Northampton, Ben Heath in the Daventry goal was well protected by his defence though and although he had to field one or two rasping efforts, notably one from Jack Beadle, he was more than up to it.  Then came the first controversial moment as Mark Bitmead was taken down by a desperate tackle close in on the home goal area that seemed an obvious penalty, and probably a red card but referee Taylor somehow saw it differently and said afterwards he felt that the Ashford player had engineered the tackle.  It was hard to accept his view as Bitmead would surely otherwise have scored with the incident taking place close to the home goal.

There was no option other than to get on with it and with Daventry, just as in the first encounter, enjoying their best spell immediately after half-time, once again one wondered if they had finally crushed Ashford’s spirit as they scored the opening goal of the game on 64 minutes.  Yet again it hinged upon a decision in the home club’s favour with Tom Hill seemingly winning the ball quite cleanly in a tackle near the corner flag but a free kick was awarded and with the cross causing some consternation it was eventually seen home by Saturday’s scorer Kieran Fitzgerald.

There was a notable air of relief amongst the home supporters but Ashford, just as they had on Saturday, fought back and incredibly, were level within five minutes.  A tempting cross hit with venom from Max Webb was powered home by Jack Mullan whose fierce header finally saw Heath beaten.  It would have beaten any keeper.

With both teams finally tiring, it looked all the world like extra time and possibly penalties but with just seven minutes left on the clock, Ashford suffered their third cruel blow when Elliott Jones was adjudged to have tackled too high even though his immediate opponent seemed to have his head down to some extent, and a penalty was given which Daventry happily accepted to go 2-1 up, scorer Tommy Berwick.

Ashford continued to give it their all but the home club were finally in ascendency and at the death Tobin was possibly fortunate only to see yellow when he came racing out of his area clattering his opponent only for the free kick to come to nothing.

Although there were no histrionics, it was a hard defeat to take but looking back, maybe the writing was on the wall in the first match with the three second half efforts that had all hit the woodwork and failed to go in.  Ashford would have loved to have renewed acquaintance with Hitchin Town, against whom they have enjoyed one or two memorable encounters in the past and would also have loved the prize money that was on offer last night, but the disappointment will quickly subside with every prospect of a fine league campaign to come, based upon the season’s displays to date.  Let it be said that the Club was proud of all of its players and management last night.  Maybe next season will see a kinder draw in the World’s oldest cup competition.

It will be important now that Ashford go to Frimley on Saturday with the same steely determination that almost got them through against higher ranked opponents and indeed one of the favourites to reach Step 3 at the end of the season.  The unofficial Ashford “Man of the Match” award, organised by Chad Beadle, saw Jack Mullan receiving the honour last night, although just about everyone was a contender.  Finally a big thank you goes to every single Ashford supporter who made their way up to Daventry last night and there were quite a number.  Daventry were excellent and friendly hosts and we wish them well.

The immediate spotlight now falls upon the Under-18’s who have their first Ryman Youth League encounter this evening (Wednesday) at home to Wingate & Finchley U18, kick-off 7.45 p.m.  Under the new managership of Sean Caldwell, the squad will be an unknown quantity initially but extensive trials and friendlies will hopefully have enabled Sean to field a strong team this evening in what is always a highly competitive league.  The lads will appreciate your support and, as a reward, free entry (which has been covered Madam Treasurer) will be given to any Ashford supporters who travelled to Daventry last night.