Following Saturday’s 3-3 draw at home to Horley it was probably difficult for both managers to decide exactly how they felt about it. For the visitors, they must have been disappointed not to have taken all three points after looking distinctly superior to Ashford, certainly throughout the first half, when they ran up a two goal lead. On the other hand it is probably fair to say that the visitors would have settled for a point before the game given the respective league positions.
Horley might also be asking themselves why it is that they are so low in the table when they are capable of playing in the manner they did, certainly throughout the first half when they were quicker to everything and could have run up a bigger lead than they did. Their players could not possibly have put the same effort into earlier matches as they did in this one, or they would be near the top of the table which may be a point to ponder for them.
Ashford, on the other hand, will be disappointed to only draw a match that they would have hoped to win against a side they beat comfortably at the start of the season. That said, to come back from 1-3 down, and having gone down to ten men, with ten minutes left and salvage a draw was certainly a positive to be taken from the match. Who’s to say but such was the ten men’s determination at the death, one would not have bet against what would have seemed a highly unlikely victory 15 minutes earlier!
Over the 90 minutes, the main difference between the sides was the League’s leading scorer Ashley Nadesan, who scored all three of his side’s goals and in doing so, surely took the eye more than any other visiting player at Short Lane this season. His pace was electric and he took his goals with aplomb and must surely be destined for a higher level of football in the not too distant future.
Ashford could just not get going in the opening period. They still made one or two chances and Dan Fleming in particular missed one glorious opportunity when Mark Bitmead seemed to have put it on a plate for him. Both the goals conceded in that first half were disappointing from Ashford’s point of view and 17 year old Jake Taylor, making his CCL debut in goal with Tyler Tobin unavailable, could not be blamed for either goal.
The first ten minutes of the second half saw Ashford at last getting into the game and they very quickly reduced the arrears from the spot, thanks to Mitchal Gough, later to be declared Ashford’s “man of the match”. With 40 minutes to go the fight back was on but once again Horley spoilt the party by scoring their third goal. This time Taylor might have done better as he seemed rooted as a cross came in, which was quickly accepted by the dangerous Nadesan to complete his hatrick. Taylor redeemed himself though with a super save from Nadesan, invariably, soon afterwards which, had it gone in, would have given the visitors a surely unassailable three goal cushion.
To their credit Ashford did not accept what looked like the inevitable but their cause was harmed when Rob Curtius found himself sent off for a second caution, his first ever in Ashford’s colours. Rob seemed to have ages to collect a slightly wayward pass but Nadesan’s pace outfoxed him, the result being that a clumsy foul saw the Ashford defender making his way off. Referee Edwards’s decision could not really be faulted and as we’re often critical, it should be recorded that, overall, he was certainly one of the better referees to be seen at Short Lane this season.
The best part of the afternoon finally arrived for Ashford. Seemingly spurred by the dismissal, the ten men suddenly got to grips with the match and with just five minutes left plus stoppage time, it was lively sub Jack Beadle who swept the ball home to give the Tangerines a lifeline. It was all one way now, despite the numerical disadvantage and three minutes into stoppage time the equaliser came when Gough, wide on the right, sent in one of his customary missiles that we have become accustomed to. It was too much for the Horley keeper who could not keep it out and Ashford were suddenly level. Mr. Edwards added on another three minutes or so and such was the ferocity of the attacks by now it would have been a brave man who would have bet against an unlikely winner arriving any time soon. It was not to be though and Horley held out for a draw, which over the full span of the game was the very least they deserved.
Looking at the table, Cove won again to maintain the top spot, whilst Windsor went down 0-2 at a seemingly rejuvenated Frimley. Camberley only managed a draw at home to Westfield whilst Molesey’s match was off yet again.
There is no midweek match for Ashford this week but Lammas are at home on Tuesday to Chessington & Hook, kick-off 7.45 p.m. Also on Tuesday, Molesey are due to entertain Badshot Lea in the quarter final of the Surrey Senior Cup and the two clubs then play each other again on Saturday, in the League.
Ashford Under-18’s are away to Northwood in the Ryman Youth League on Thursday.
The next 1st Team match is on Saturday, when Ashford travel to Guildford City, kick-off 3.00 p.m. More on that one later in the week.