Ashford secured three valuable points on Saturday, beating a resilient Colliers Wood United side by four goals to one.
With Jack Beadle (suspended) and skipper Russell Canderton (injured) missing, the side had something of a new look to it with full back Bobby Dormer, signed from Camberley Town, starting at right back whilst up front Mark Bitmead and Dan Fleming were both fully recovered from injury and able to resume their fruitful partnership. Mitchal Gough partnered Jack Mullan in central defence, whilst recent signing Sam Balfour, who would have an explosive impact later in the match, started on the bench.
Ashford had some good early chances to score but failed to do so and paid an early price when the visitors went ahead from the spot on 21 minutes, when Mario Embalo made no mistake. It was Dormer who gave away the penalty as he tried to make a last ditch tackle and he was cautioned for his trouble although the excellent video of the match on the Fans Focus suggests that he actually got something on the ball. To be fair, it did not look like that as it happened and nobody argued about the award. The main feeling from the Ashford point of view was relief that Dormer was not dismissed as it must have been a close call.
Was it going to be another of those days when Ashford came to rue missed chances? Fortunately for the men in tangerine, it was not. The equaliser arrived just six minutes later, again from the spot, when Dan Fleming was bundled over in the box. Again it was not totally clear cut and whilst the defender could himself have been red carded, the sensible decision was a yellow. Mitchal Gough made no mistake.
The scores remained level to half-time but Ashford had the ball in the net shortly after the break only to be ruled out for what must have been the tightest of offside decisions. It did not take too long though before Ashford did take the lead, when Alex Fisher swung in a dangerous free kick. It was only partially cleared and Max Webb smacked home the rebound from the edge of the penalty area.
The killer goal that gave Ashford a two goal cushion arrived just two minutes later when Bitmead, wide on the right, found Fleming who held it well before stroking it into Bitmead’s path for him to hammer home.
Colliers Wood still looked good when going forward and when Dormer found himself dismissed for a second yellow, once again supporters’ nerves were a little frayed. With the combative Elliott Jones now on in midfield and sub Sam Baffour starting to make his pace and presence felt down the right flank, it turned out there was no need to worry as a determined Ashford rearguard were never in serious danger and it was Baffour, who may be even faster than Samad Kazi, which is saying something, who ensured victory close to the end when he finished off a move involving Fisher and Bitmead, the latter somehow keeping the ball in play on the goal line before sending in a low cross.
4-1 may have been a little hard on the visitors who clearly have goals in them but they did not look so strong at the back at times and Ashford, unlike one or two previous matches, took their chances when they came and could have had more. The Wood hit the bar on one occasion but Ashford were generally competent at the back yesterday. Max Webb once again was voted the Supporters’ “Ashford Man of the Match” but Mitchal Gough, supreme at the back with Mullan, must have run him close.
On Tuesday evening, Ashford make the short trip to Bedfont & Feltham FC, to play their tenants CB Hounslow United in the 3rd Round (Quarter Final) of the Southern Combination Cup, with the winners drawn away to either Bedfont & Feltham, Walton Casuals or Chipstead in the semi-final. Kick-off is 7.45 p.m. and the address of the ground in case anyone doesn’t know it is The Orchard, Hatton Road, Bedfont, TW14 9QT. CB Hounslow are up to 7th place in CCL Division One and have only lost one of their last six league matches so cannot be under-estimated.