Ashford beat Frimley Green by three goals to one on Saturday in what became a fairly routine victory, despite the fact that Frimley took the lead in the 4th minute.  A long run by full back Sam Boultwood went unchecked and although Russell Canderton did well to prevent the ball going into the net he could only divert it back across goal for Boultwood to finish.

It was frustrating as the goal came immediately after a strong run from Samad Kazi who set up Dan Fleming whose goal bound effort beat the keeper but rebounded off the line from a defender who knew little about it

At that point Frimley did not look like a team possibly set for relegation.  Their main tactic seemed to be the long ball and with the strong breeze behind them, Ashford endured some uncomfortable moments.  Referee Donaldson seemed to allow a number of questionable tackles go unpunished and Ashford were rattled for a while.

Unlike last week’s match though, one always sensed that Ashford would come good in this one and the equaliser was not too long in coming, courtesy of Fleming, who has now hit 30 goals this season in all competitive matches for the Club.  One has to go back to season 2000-2001 for when that feat was last achieved, by Tony Nolan.

There were no further goals before half-time but Ashford were looking ever more dangerous with the elements now in their favour and it was not long into the second period before they took the lead through an excellent looping header from Jack Beadle,  following a deep cross from Alex Fisher.

Frimley looked a beaten side from that moment and a third goal came from the spot courtesy of Mark Bitmead, who is not too far short of 30 goals himself for the season.  Frimley did not help themselves when Boultwood was dismissed for a reckless challenge on Kazi, which saw the Ashford player having to leave the field to be replaced by Ryan Dearden.  Quite frankly one or two other visiting players were quite fortunate not to suffer the same fate.

There were no further goals but it was a comfortable enough victory and Ashford now have a week off before they entertain Knaphill next Saturday, kick-off 3.00 p.m.

In the meantime, there are two matches at Short Lane this week.  On Monday evening, Ashford’s new ladies’ side for next season will play a curtain raiser against FK Viking Ladies, whose men’s side play in the Norwegian Premier Division.  Entry is entirely free and kick-off is 7.45 p.m.

On Wednesday evening the Under-18’s will be at home to Staines Town U18 in the Ryman Youth League and will hope to emulate their 2-1 victory at Wheatsheaf Lane a month or so ago.

On Saturday, Ashford have their first home match for some time, when they will welcome Frimley Green FC to Short Lane for their first senior visit since December 1993, 21 years ago.  Ashford managed to win 6-2 on that day, thanks to a rare hatrick from Ian Miles, plus two from Keith Hoad and one from Lee Holman

With Frimley close to the bottom of the table at the moment after something of a turbulent season, one might be forgiven for anticipating a similar score line but a quick look at our visitors’ recent fortunes will quickly dispel that idea.  Since appointing a new manager in January, Frimley have done far better and it is unlikely that too many of the players we faced in our first encounter early this season will be on show on Saturday.  Before last Saturday when they were narrowly defeated in the “six-pointer” at home to Guildford City, they had won four league matches in a row, that run including victories over both Windsor and Badshot Lea.

The good news for Ashford is that, hopefully both Mitchal Gough and Dan Fleming will be fit to return.  Dan was less than happy we understand with the writers’ comments on the Hanworth Villa match so let the matter be hastily put right.  One of the main reasons that we have done so much better this season than last, is that we have had strikers this season who can put the ball in the net, and top of the tree at the moment, following his hatrick on Tuesday, before having to go off, is Dan, with no less than 29 goals so far.  Compare that to last season when our top scorer only managed 6 and you can see that, far from being maligned, Dan is highly regarded by all for the huge part he has played in turning our fortunes around.

Kick-off is 3.00 p.m.

Other news is that the Under-18’s put up a spirited performance last night, despite going down 1-3 to Hampton & Richmond.

We are looking for Under-14 girls to play football for us next season as the current team, playing at Under-13 level has been unable to field a full team in recent matches.  If you are interested, get in touch with team manager Louise Munns on 07769 330917.

Still with the girls, a reminder that our new adult ladies side play their first match in Ashford colours next Monday, kick-off 7.45 p.m. against the ladies side of Norwegian Premier Club, Viking SK from Norway.  We hope to make it an occasion for all concerned and will be pleased to see as many people down as possible.  As stated, entrance is entirely free and there will be a social gathering afterwards.

The training area on the back side (not the pitch used for matches) will be out of bounds from Friday 17 April  and fenced off soon afterwards as work to renovate and provide a completely refurbished training area will commence shortly afterwards.  Lorries will be in and out delivering materials for a while so please take extra care.

Finally, thanks to Simon Munns, the repairs to the fencing are close to completion, prior to the deadline of 31 March, so a big acknowledgment to Simon and those who have helped him, especially Dan Butler, Chris Canderton, who procured the new panels, Stuart and Chad Beadle and probably others (sorry for missing anyone out).  Well done also to Dan Butler for fitting out the new medical room.

It is hard to know what to expect from Ashford at the moment, even during the course of one match.

Indeed Tuesday evening was a classic demonstration that in football, you never know what is going to happen.  Last night Ashford produced a first half of stunning quality at times against Mole Valley SCR, turning round three goals ahead when with slightly better luck and finishing it could easily have been six or seven.  Mole Valley’s only real threat had come from the speedy Michael Campbell up front but he had little support. 

All three goals came from Dan Fleming.  On Saturday he couldn’t have hit a cow’s bottom with a banjo but his finishing last night was superb.  That said, the first one was a tad fortunate as, latching on to a long through ball from Mark Bitmead, playing in an unusual midfield role, he sent in a shot that should have been saved but the Mole Valley keeper allowed it to slip under his body.  It was about his only mistake though as he went on to make any number of excellent saves as the match progressed.

That first goal came on just four minutes and it was two six minutes later again courtesy of Fleming.  After knocking on the door regularly throughout the rest of the half, with Samad Kazi hitting the woodwork twice, and Bitmead once, not to mention all the saves, a third goal arrived on 40 minutes when a thunderous shot from Tommy Brunton rebounded from the bar and Fleming was on hand to steer home another cool finish.

Ashford then made it four just three minutes into the second half, when it looked as if Russell Canderton got the decisive touch (although that is subject to correction) and it seemed game over.  In the space of just under 15 minutes though it all threatened to go wrong for the visitors.  Firstly Mole Valley pulled a goal back from the spot when Bobby Dormer was adjudged to have fouled Campbell.  From the writer’s admittedly distant position it looked like six of one and half a dozen of the other but the penalty was given and Campbell made no mistake.  Dormer was unluckily cautioned.

Dan Fleming then sustained a knock and had to leave the field, followed a few minutes later by another foul from Dormer, who had been playing supremely well, and he was dismissed from the field for a second caution.  Ashford steadied, with the reliable Rob Curtis on for Fleming but suddenly referee Davis was at it again, awarding a second penalty for Mole Valley, this time for alleged handball by Curtis.  It was a low cross that was intercepted and Mr. Davis’ explanation afterwards was that the Ashford player had his hands down, which is normally a good reason for not awarding a penalty!  Tyler Tobin made a tremendous save form the spot kick but Campbell  was first to the rebound and tapped home.

Suddenly it was 4-2 and with Ashford down to ten, the home side suddenly felt, unlikely as it had seemed, that they could get something from the match.  Some dogged Ashford defending was required for a while and the Tangerines were extremely grateful on 81 minutes to the lively Kazi whose pace saw him latch on to another defence splitting pass and then win the ball in a tackle with the onrushing home keeper, who injured himself, as Kazi got up to stoke the ball into an empty net.

The highly vocal Ashford support once again relaxed but the home side had the last word when Campbell became the second player on the pitch to record a hatrick.  It was tough luck on Tobin as he made a tremendous initial save, only for Campbell to poke home with Ashford seemingly mesmorised as the ball bounced invitingly for someone to clear, before Campbell nipped in.

That made it 5-3 to Ashford with nine minutes on the clock, plus stoppage time.  There was always going to be plenty of that, following the injury to the home keeper, who had bravely played on, and referee Davis ensured that there could be no complaints from the home side by playing a full seven minutes worth before the match was finally over, with five goals and three points in the bag, albeit at a cost for Ashford.

Ashford return to Short Lane on Saturday after six games on the road, when Frimley Green are the visitors.  More on that later in the week and don’t forget that Ashford’s Under-18’s are in action this evening (Wednesday).  The lads have not pulled up any trees this season it has to be said, but preparations are now beginning as we look to next season and your support would be welcomed.

Also, the work to repair the fencing around the ground is progressing under master craftsman Simon Munns and is resuming this afternoon around 3.00 p.m.  If anyone has a few spare hours and can offer a bit of labour please come down.

 

It is good that Ashford have a midweek match to hopefully get Saturday’s turgid affair out of mind.  The match is on Tuesday evening when the Tangerines travel to Cobham FC to play against their tenants, Mole Valley SCR, who incidentally, are changing their name to Sutton Common Rovers next season.

Mole Valley have also endured some indifferent form lately with just one league win from their last nine outings and on Saturday, they fared a goal worse than Ashford, losing by 4 goals to nil at the hands of Knaphill FC.  They were a fairly lively bunch at Short Lane earlier in the season though, despite losing 1-3, and no matches can be taken lightly in this league, as is evidenced by one or two of Ashford’s results against some of the lower placed teams in recent weeks. 

Two ex-Ashford players may be turning out for Mole Valley.  Kieran Wright left us earlier this season when Ashford supporters were quite disappointed to see him depart, whilst the other is Arafat Kabuye, who you may remember came on as a sub up at Bedworth United in his only match for the club back in August 2010..

Kick-off is 7.45 p.m. and the address of the ground is Cobham FC, Leg of Mutton Field, Downside Bridge Road, Cobham, KT11 1AA.  There is a small car park available and it should also be possible to park on the lane leading up to the ground.

The Under-18’s are also in action this week and will welcome Hampton & Richmond to Short Lane on Wednesday evening, kicking off at 7.45 p.m.  

 

This last week will not be remembered with any affection by anyone associated with Ashford!

Following the unlucky last minute defeat at the hands of Molesey in midweek, Ashford capitulated on Saturday at Hanworth Villa, losing by three goals to nil.  The scoreline is misleading in terms of possession with the Villans scoring two of their three goals right at the death, as Ashford threw caution to the wind in an attempt to find an equaliser to Hanworth’s first goal on the stroke of half-time but we all know the result is all that counts in the end.   

The weather has now turned with the result that the pitch was hard and not a little bumpy and this together with the stiff and very cold breeze that persisted throughout, made it difficult for either side to play much football.  Ashford were without key players in Mark Bitmead and Mitchal Gough but Elliott Jones was fit again and came on later from the bench.

In terms of possession Ashford had more of it throughout the first half but neither keeper was ever seriously threatened.  Three free kicks awarded to Ashford just outside the area,  gave the away supporters some hope given past heroics but Dan Fleming didn’t have his shooting boots on and all were safely collected by Terry Buss in the home goal.

On the stroke of half-time Ashford conceded a goal.  There seemed no particular danger but sloppy defending allowed a cross to come in from the right flank, and Hanworth’s Dale Marvell glanced it home at the near post.  It was a good finish.

The second half saw Hanworth often putting all eleven men behind the ball to protect their lead, which they did, if not with ease, yet certainly comfortably, as despite the vast  amount of possession, Ashford never really looked like redeeming the situation and then came the final twist as Hanworth rubbed it in with two goals in the closing seconds.  Well played to them, they took their chances when Ashford failed to create hardly a single opportunity of note.

It never sounds good when a beaten team criticises a referee and it certainly made no difference to the result but Mr. Hurst seemed to lose his way after a positive start, awarding free kicks the wrong way and failing to clamp down on the time wasting, not helped by only two match balls being provided.  All teams are prone to do it when they are holding a narrow lead near the end, not least Ashford, but when will referees learn that the only way to clamp down on it is by issuing a card or two rather than keep tapping their wrist, which fools no-one.   Mr. Hurst added on five minutes of stoppage time but just one incident took just about that long to sort out and there was another embarrassing and prolonged hold-up whilst a ball was retrieved.  Neither were Ashford impressed with the fact that they received four yellow cards to Hanworth’s one.

With all the other leading clubs losing or only able to draw it was a shame that Ashford chose to have such a spectacular off day but it is gone now and one senses there will  be a determination to put on a much better display when the Tangerines go to Mole Valley on Tuesday evening before a home game beckons on Saturday.  More tomorrow about Tuesday’s match.

 

Ashford go to Hanworth Villa on Saturday and whilst a glance at the league table, with Villa second from bottom, suggests an easy match, Ashford know only too well it will be anything but.  Indeed it is a mystery to most clubs in the CCL that Hanworth Villa have been at the wrong end all season, after some of their exploits, especially in cup competitions in recent seasons.

Ashford really needed to reign Molesey in on Tuesday evening to keep their championship hopes up but failed to do so when the hosts scored a last minute goal which gave them all three points but, as has been said, there is still 20-25% of the season to go for most clubs in terms of matches and Ashford, who should be at full strength tomorrow, certainly won’t be giving up yet.

Villa play at Rectory Meadows, Park Road, Hanworth, TW13 6PN and there is plenty of parking at the ground. 

In recent matches Hanworth Villa have picked up points, including a 4-0 win at Bedfont Sports on Tuesday and a 1-1 draw at Epsom & Ewell but were heavily beaten by 6 goals to 1 at home to Windsor a fortnight ago and they lost the proverbial six pointer 1-2 at Guildford last Saturday.  One player to possibly look out for, although he doesn’t seem to have played for the Club recently, is ex-Ashford striker Scott Todd.  It seems a long time ago that Scott was named “Step 4 Player of the Year” throughout the country, when we won promotion form the Southern League Div. One West but he was a stalwart for Ashford playing well over 300 matches for the Club and scoring over 100 goals.

Kick-off tomorrow is 3.00 p.m. as usual.

Ashford have taken on a new Ladies side for next season and they hope to be playing at a higher level than the previous ladies team.

With County approval, they have a historic first match in Ashford’s colours, when they will play against Viking FK Ladies, from Stavanger in Norway on Monday 30 March at Short Lane, kick-off 7.45 p.m.

Viking FK men play in the Norwegian Premier Division and have played more Premier matches than any other club in Norway.  They have won the national championship on eight occasions and in 2002-2003 they knocked Chelsea, no less, out of the UEFA Cup.  If all that has rubbed off on their Ladies’ team, our new side could not have picked a more difficult match in which to start their Ashford career.

The Norwegian Ladies themselves that will be visiting us were a national top five Under-16 side but will now be playing in the adult National Ladies Division 3 next season.

We shall try to make a night of it to welcome both our own new team, and our foreign visitors, and it will be good to see a decent attendance for what should be a very interesting match.  Entrance to the match will be FREE.

An intriguing match away to Molesey on Tuesday evening saw Ashford defeated by the only goal of the game, scored in the final minute of the 90 by Stafford Palmer, from a corner kick.

It was certainly a disappointment for the Tangerines who had rarely looked like conceding and who, especially in the first half, had created a number of chances to go ahead.  Bobby Dormer was the stand-out Ashford “man of the match” with a superb and disciplined defensive display, especially during the second half when Molesey, although not dominating play, certainly enjoyed significantly more possession than they had in the first period.

Ashford were without the influential MItchal Gough, who had not recovered from a knock sustained against Windsor on Saturday, but brought in Samad Kazi,  generally playing wide on the left flank where he was perhaps an unanticipated threat to Molesey, who clearly had a plan to shackle both Mark Bitmead and Dan Fleming.

The match as a whole was an absorbing contest, without hitting the heights football wise, with both defences generally on top and eager to get the ball away from their penalty areas at the first sign of danger.

One way of looking at it though if Ashford had been offered away draws at Windsor and Molesey in this little period of extremely tough fixtures, they may well have accepted but in the end a win and a defeat gives them maybe a point more than would have been acceptable.  It does mean though that the championship is now Molesey’s to lose although they also face some tough games in their 10 match run-in, which is, of course, exactly 25% of their season, including their return match against Camberley on 18 April, so no-one will be giving up yet in the Ashford camp but it is obviously tougher after last night’s result.  Things can change very quickly though in football.

Ashford make the short trip to meet Hanworth Villa on Saturday for the first time this season.  They enjoyed a resounding win at Bedfont Sports last night and are fighting a relegation battle, which certainly wouldn’t have been expected at the start of the season.  Ashford will be well aware that they can expect a very difficult match at The Ranch but more on that later in the week.

This evening, Wednesday, Ashford’s Under-18’s head down the road to meet Bedfont Sports, whom we congratulate upon winning the Middlesex Senior Youth Cup last week, with a Cup Final win over Wingate & Finchley.

Also the very first match for our new Ladies Team next season arrives on Monday 30 March when they will play a friendly against a Norwegian Ladies side, at Short Lane, kick-off 7.45 p.m.  More on that one tomorrow.

Ashford’s third “big” game in a row arrives on Tuesday evening, when the Tangerines make the short trip to meet Molesey.

The Moles have enjoyed a highly successful season to date but have been hampered to a degree by numerous postponements especially at their own Walton Road ground, as a result of which they find themselves with matches to catch up on all their main rivals at the top of the table, although if they were to win them all, they would indeed head the table themselves.  Like ourselves, they have also reached the semi-final of the Surrey Senior Cup but unlike ourselves, they are still in it and will play at home to Metropolitan Police next Tuesday.  We genuinely wish them every success and hope they get through to play against Merstham in the Final.

Ashford for their part will be stirred by the performance at Windsor on Saturday and will come into tomorrow evening’s match unbeaten in league matches since the beginning of February and with four wins and a draw from their last five league matches.  Elliott Jones is still injured but other than that Ben Murray’s side should be at full strength for the encounter.  Molesey have a similar record, their only blip being a home defeat recently against mid-table Badshot Lea, so we could have a classic match on our hands tomorrow evening.

That said, nobody will win the League tomorrow whatever the result.  It will certainly give the winners additional confidence but with Ashford having another eight matches left after tomorrow and Molesey ten, there will still be plenty to play for, so it is better not to build the game up to false heights.  Deviating for a minute, It is possibly against the odds now but were the Tangerines to win the League, there is little doubt that they would be back in the Southern League.  Molesey though are probably on the north-Western fringe of the Ryman Div 1 South boundary (indeed the Ryman League tried a few seasons ago to make them play in Ryman North), so it is interesting to speculate into which Step 4 Division they may go were they to win the League,  It is unlikely on balance but they could also find themselves, just as we had to, travelling up to the Midlands in the Southern League (Central) which is OK to be honest as most of the clubs in that part of the world are friendly enough and it is certainly an experience, even though it takes all day or sometimes, all night.

Back to the present, or rather the past, Molesey won the first encounter this season at Short Lane, by the only goal of the game and frankly deserved to do so by a greater margin as they were much the better side on the day.  Ashford, therefore, have something to prove tomorrow.  That said, whether it can be regarded as an omen or not is a moot point, but in six previous matches at Short Lane, including this season’s against the Moles, Ashford have yet to record a win.  At Molesey though, in five previous matches, Ashford have only tasted defeat once, an odd statistic overall.

The address of the ground is 412 Walton Road, East Molesey, KT8 2JG.  There is a small car park which fills up very quickly so get there early if you want a space.  Kick-off is 7.45 p.m.

Finally just a quick note that this year’s Junior Tournament will be staged over the weekend of the 13th and 14th June.  Full details of the event will appear on the website tomorrow, along with various other event dates.

Ashford were involved in their second 4-3 result in five days but this time they came out on top beating Windsor at Stag Meadow by four goals to three.

There was plenty of good football on display on Windsor’s immaculate surface but the match possibly wasn’t quite as exciting as the scoreline suggests.  Nevertheless, Ashford made an excellent start, with the home side looking vulnerable at the back, especially to the ball over the top but one or two incredible misses, especially one by Dan Fleming when he somehow blazed over from not much more than a yard out, kept the scoreline blank for a while.

Mark Bitmead also had an excellent chance when he was clean through and had only to lob the ball over the onrushing keeper but miscued and lobbed it gently into the custodian’s hands.  The first goal did arrive though before too long and this time good work by Jack Beadle and Bitmead led to a scramble and Fleming made up for his earlier miss by cheekily back heeling the ball into the goal from very close range.

Windsor though came into their own and it was Ashford’s turn to defend.  Sadly they did not do it all that well and by half-time the situation had changed with Windsor scoring twice to go in with a 2-1 lead. One of the goals was a simple affair, headed home from a Rob Lazarczuk missile of a throw in.

Ashford felt that they did not deserve to be behind and promptly did something about it, as Mark Bitmead equalised some four minutes into the second half.  The same player then gave Ashford the lead soon after and Fleming then rounded the keeper only to see his effort cleared off the line.

The miss may have been costly as the quick thinking Lazarczuk launched another long throw into the box, which caught the visiting defence asleep and another simple goal ensued to level the scores at three apiece.  Everyone expected more goals but there was only one more and once again it was Fleming swivelling to drive home.

Ashford had a determination about them to hold on this time, which they did fairly comfortably and Bitmead looked as if he should have had a penalty as Windsor keeper Courtnage came racing out again succeeding only in bringing the forward down who was otherwise clean through but it was not deemed to be a foul.

Ashford were satisfied enough with the points with Mitchal Gough winning the Chad Beadle “Man of the Match “ award, with another elegant display.  Bobby Dormer added some steel to Ashford’s defending whilst Max Webb and Tommy Brunton were prominent at times.

Referee Heward, who had a decent match overall, was consistent in his leniency, letting Mark Bitmead off with a fairly violent shove at one point and also Windsor’s Kane Jones who belted the ball at a prostrate Tom Brunton.  It was not generally a feisty match though with both teams always trying to play football.

The three points were vital, with both Camberley and Molesey also recording away wins at Cove and Bedfont Sports respectively, both by the odd goal.  There are a number of “crunch” games coming up in the near future with Ashford travelling to Molesey on Tuesday evening, kick-off 7.45 p.m.  More on that one tomorrow.

Work to repair/replace the broken fence panels at the ground is starting on Tuesday afternoon at 3.30 p.m.  If anyone can get down to lend a hand, please get along to the ground

Staines Lammas FC have advised us that they do not intend to renew their ground share arrangement next season.  As a result we are looking for a new ground sharing partner next year.  Any club interested is welcome to contact the Club on 01784 440613.

We have enjoyed a generally very successful partnership with Lammas over several seasons and we wish them luck in the future.

What’s gone, gone and Ashford now have to put the County Cup defeat behind them and prepare for the visit to Windsor FC on Saturday.  With all the top five suffering unexpected defeats in the League recently, the championship race looks far more open than it did a couple of weeks ago and at the moment there is still everything to play for.

After seeing what a good side Windsor can be in the home match against them when, similar to Tuesday, Ashford threw away a half-time lead only to go down 2-3, it was a surprise to see them losing to both Frimley and, less so perhaps, given the respective positions in the table, Spelthorne in the League in the last three weeks.  In between though, they polished off Hanworth Villa by 6 goals to 1 so who knows what to expect on Saturday.  Windsor may now regard their promotion hopes as dashed but that won’t make Saturday’s task any easier and like every other club, they will fight to the end.

In the first half at Merstham on Tuesday, Ashford looked a cut above Step 5 with their slick passing and absolute determination, and that was against probably the best side they will face this season.  The trick is obviously to do it for the full 90 minutes and once again the Tangerines will have a superb surface upon which to play on Saturday.  Bobby Dormer will be available again after being cup-tied on Tuesday whilst Elliott Jones should be fully fit, hopefully leaving Ben Murray with a near full strength squad.

The address of the ground is Stag Meadow, St. Leonards Road, Windsor, SL4 3DR but a word of warning.  Apparently the average Sat Nav cannot be relied upon to take you to the exact spot.  There are excellent directions on the Windsor web site but from Ashford, the best way is to go down the Staines by-pass towards Junction 13 of the M25.  When you get there come down the slip road to the roundabout and then take the3rd exit along the A308 towards Windsor, past the Runnymede Hotel and then the Bells of Ouseley.

Follow that road for a couple of miles and after crossing the Long Walk, turn left at the roundabout as if you were going away from Windsor itself.  Than take the 1st right (Bolton Road), turn left at the top and the ground is then a little way on the left hand side.  There is ample parking available.  It shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes from Short Lane.

Having lost two matches in a row after going unbeaten for so long, Camberley have a tough trip to Cove on Saturday, so 1st plays 2nd.  Cove will doubtless be smarting following their stoppage time loss at Molesey on Tuesday whilst the Moles themselves are away at Bedfont Sports.

Well done to the Under-18’s on Wednesday, who drew one apiece with Camberley.  The visitors scored in the second half but Ashford equalised two minutes later.

Just a reminder that the next Meat Draw is on Sunday at 3.00 pm and tickets are available now at the Club.  Thanks go to Simon Munns who won twice last Sunday and has donated one of the prizes back to the Club to go into the draw on Sunday, at around 3.00 p.m.  Don’t forget that the winner of the 1st prize will also receive a bottle of wine if he or she is in the bar at the time of the draw.

Also, manager Ben Murray is organising another Race Night to take place on Friday 10 April.  The evening starts at 7.00 p.m. with the first race at 7.40 p.m.  There is also going to be a Grand National sweepstake with horses at £5 each and £100 to the winning owner.

It is always galling to go out of a cup competition at the semi-final stage but to do so after leading 3-0 at half-time is particularly frustrating.  Such was Ashford’s fortune on Tuesday evening, when a rejuvenated Merstham side turned disaster into triumph.

Ashford got off to a great start when, just four minutes in Mitchal Gough shot from distance from a free kick which Brannon Daly in the Merstham goal was unable to deal with, resulting in a scramble.   Mark Bitmead saw his effort cleared from the line but Max Webb (not Gough as shown on the Merstham site) was on hand to force it home.

Ashford doubled their lead on 21 minutes when a home defender gave the ball away giving Jack Beadle a chance.  His effort was saved but the predatory Bitmead was on hand to sweep home.

Nine minutes later it was three as Webb out on the right flank attempted to cross the ball but it spun off his foot and ended up hitting the woodwork and going in.

At this point Ashford looked a good bet to progress but there is no doubt that Merstham are a formidable team at the moment and the last five minutes or so before the break saw Ashford endure a few uncomfortable moments.

A very obvious change in tactics saw Merstham take over the match in the second half.  Gone was the tapping about of the first half which had often played into Ashford’s hands.  The long ball took over and it worked within a minute as Merstham reduced the arrears through Fabio Saraiva.  In many ways that goal was the killer.  If Ashford had been able to hold out for longer it may well have thwarted Merstham’s determination but it served as a massive spur for the home side, and the whole of the second half saw Ashford fighting a rearguard action.

Try as they did, the visitors, not helped by a series of decisions going against them, could not withstand the now rampant display from the home side and the writing was on the wall when further goals from Saraiva on 70 and 74 minutes brought Merstham level.  The equaliser came from the spot when Tyler Tobin made probably an ill judged dash almost to the edge of his penalty area to punch but was adjudged to have shoved his opponent.  In another game, it wouldn’t have been given but the writing had been on the wall for some time before that and the winning goal on 78 minutes, again from Saraiva, was not a surprise.

In the final ten minutes Ashford did at last steady the ship to a degree and sub Samad Kazi came close, as did Gough but it was not to be.  The Tangerines though can look back on a super run this season, with the scalps of both Woking and Leatherhead in the bag and to lose to a powerful Merstham side, very much in the hat for promotion to the Ryman Premier Division, by the odd goal, was no disgrace, even though the manner of the defeat was obviously disappointing.

Ashford need to take the positives from the match, and there were plenty, into the next two crucial league games away at Windsor on Saturday, and Molesey next Tuesday.  Last night’s league matches saw Molesey winning by the odd goal in the crunch match against Cove but Cove retained top spot as Camberley lost their second match in a row, this time away at Westfield, whilst Windsor also went down, losing 1-2 at Spelthorne.

The writer did not realise that the Under-18’s were in action twice this week but can report that a much improved display against Hampton on Monday saw another defeat but by the only goal of the game.  This evening  (Wednesday) the lads are back at Short Lane against Camberley Town U18, whilst the big European match between Chelsea and PSG will be showing in the clubhouse.

Thank you to those Ashford supporters who made the effort to get to Merstham last night.  Please come and support the side again on Saturday when we make the shorter trip to Windsor.  More on that one later in the week.

 

Before looking at Tuesday’s match, congratulations should be recorded for Max Webb who made his 50th 1st Team start on Saturday and to skipper Russell Canderton who hit the 550 mark in terms of overall competitive appearances.

For more than one season, Ashford, like a number of clubs, seemed to take their line from the Premier clubs in the FA Cup, in that the Senior Cups were almost seen as a nuisance and often fielded weakened teams, much to the annoyance of at least one supporter (me!).  That is unlikely to be the case on Tuesday when Ashford will need to be at their absolute best if they are to have a chance of winning through to the Final of the Surrey Senior Cup away at Merstham.  The Tangerines will though be able to draw inspiration from two of their best performances this season, when both Woking and Leatherhead were knocked out on their own grounds.

Merstham have firmly established themselves at Step 4 and this season are pushing for further promotion from Ryman Div One South, having virtually guaranteed themselves a play-off spot.  Manager Hayden Bird has been quoted in his local press as saying that Merstham against Met Police “would be right for the final” which will serve as a big incentive for both Ashford and indeed, Molesey, to upset the apple cart.

The match kicks off at 7.45 p.m. and the address of the ground is the Moatside Stadium, Weldon Way, Merstham, RH1 3QB.   There is a car park at the ground but it is very small.  There is though ample parking available in the side streets.

Ashford supporters contributed to the largest attendance of the day in the CCL on Saturday at Guildford and we would ask as many supporters as possible to travel to Merstham on Tuesday, not least because any profit from the match is shared in this competition!

Also this week, the Under-18’s are at home on Wednesday evening against Camberley Town U18, kick-off 7.45 p.m.  A better performance is required than last week’s dismal 0-6 loss away to Northwood, which was exceptionally disappointing after the team had just beaten Staines, who were top of the table at the time.

Ashford secured their 20th league win of the season on Saturday with a 3-2 victory away to Guildford City.

It sounded close and indeed the home side missed a glorious opportunity right at the death to equalise but over the 90 minutes Ashford enjoyed more of the possession and deserved the three points although, as mentioned they almost contrived to throw them away.

On a drying pitch accompanied by a stiffer breeze than predicted, both teams made a decent fist of it but the visitors absolutely dominated the first 20 minutes or so.  They had only one goal to show for it, when Dan Fleming hit one of his trademark free kicks on 16 minutes but it is not an exaggeration to state that Ashford could have been as many as four goals up in that opening period.

Nevertheless matters still seemed to be going the general way of the visitors despite the occasional worrying break from the home side but Ashford were becoming casual and were rocked out of their complacency when Guildford equalised five minutes from the break through Dan Stewart, who latched on to a through ball and rounded Tyler Tobin in goal.

The second period saw the home side continuing to look dangerous at times but so did Ashford and the deadlock was eventually broken when skipper Russell Canderton managed to loop a header back into the top corner of the net from a corner kick, on 70 minutes.  It made up for an early miss when he had crashed the ball against the bar from point blank range.

Eight minutes later Jack Beadle finished well to make it 3-1 and once again it looked like game over.  The young Guildford side though continued to make life difficult and in the 83rd minute they popped up with another goal of their own.  It was a good one as well with Nathaniel Williams somehow retaining the ball despite the close attention of three Ashford defenders and then rolling it back for Jack Collins to thump home off the post.

It made for an uncomfortable ten minutes or so but Ashford held out, albeit not exactly comfortably at times, although both sides had further chances, especially Guildford’s Stewart right at the death, but he shot over the bar.  Referee Harrison added a considerable period on, to prolong the agony, after adding just 10 seconds in the first half but in the end it was another three points and with the news that both Camberley and Molesey had suffered unexpected defeats, it was all the more important, with the manner of the victory becoming largely irrelevant.

The “Jack Beadle Ashford Man of the Match Award” went to Russell Canderton but it was a close run affair this week with multiple players receiving votes.  For the writer, one of the players who  stood out was Joe Green at right back, in for the injured Elliott Jones, and possibly enjoying his best match to date in an Ashford shirt.

Ashford will now turn their attention to a difficult Surrey Senior Cup semi-final away to Merstham on Tuesday but more on that one tomorrow.

Finally congratulations go to ex-Chairman and Club President Bob Parker upon his 75th birthday.

After a nice week off to recharge the batteries, Ashford are back in action on Saturday, travelling to play Guildford City.

Like ourselves, Guildford were relegated from Step 4 last seasonbut haven’t been able to arrest their slide, despite a change of manager and currently find themselves at the foot of the table, although they have games in hand upon all the clubs immediately above them.  Ashford have only to look at last week’s match though to be reminded that there are no bad teams in this league and Ben Murray knows only too well that his young side will have to work extremely hard if they are to return with a victory.

Guildford have not been able to play since they lost 1-5 at home to Molesey back on 18 February but hopefully their pitch along with all the others have benefited from the current dry spell and there will be no doubts over tomorrow’s game going ahead.

The address of the ground is The Spectrum, Parkway, Guildford, GU1 1UP and there should be plenty of parking even though the overall complex is likely to be busy.  As you come into the complex the football ground is right at the end.  There is a bar in the main building.

Pick of tomorrow’s matches is at Molesey who will be entertaining Badshot Lea for the second time in five days, after beating them by two goals to nil in the Surrey Senior Cup on Tuesday.  By their own admission, Badshot did not replicate the form that had seen them go a long time unbeaten and Molesey won comfortably in the end, despite being a man light throughout the second period.  Another feisty battle looks in store.  Camberley travel to Raynes Park Vale, never easy, whilst Cove are off to Epsom & Ewell.

On Sunday, BT Sport is showing  the FA Cup match between Liverpool and Blackburn, kick-off 4.00 p.m. and before that, of course, we have the meat draw around 3.00 p.m.  Don’t forget that you have to be in the club at the time of the draw if you are going to win the bonus bottle of wine.  Tickets at £1 are on sale right up to the time of the draw.

This evening, Wednesday, the live match on BT Sport between Newcastle and Manchester United will be showing in the Clubhouse, kick-off at 7.45 p.m.

Also just a couple of reminders:  this Friday 6 March DJ Tyrone will be playing a selection of music from the 60's, 70's and 80's from 7.30 pm onwards.  Everyone welcome to come down and enjoy yourselves in a convivial atmosphere.

Don't forget either to pick up your meat draw tickets in time for Sunday's draw.  There will be more meat this week after last week's inaugural draw got off to a great start and, don't forget, if the winner of the 1st prize is in the Club at the time, they will win a bonus bottle of wine.

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.

 

A summary of our match against Horley Town will appear here tomorrow but this is just to record a "thank you" to everyone who bought tickets in our new-look Meat Draw, which took place earlier today, and helped us to raise a very helpful £108.  We did not expect to sell more than 50 tickets this week, so we more than doubled our expectations.  As a result next week there will be an extra prize.

The winners this week were:  1st prize - Fudge, 2nd prize - Tony G and 3rd prize Robbie B.

A big thank you also goes to Nick Bailey who donated all the meat for today's draw.  If anyone else can help to sponsor future meat draws please come forward.

Don't forget that the winner of the first prize drawn will also receive a complimentary bottle of wine if he or she is in the Clubhouse at the time of the draw (around 3.00 pm every Sunday).