It was another three points for Ashford at Cove on Saturday which was what mattered, of course, but it was a curious match from the visitors’ point of view.
The game started with almost total dominance over a young Cove side as Ashford must have enjoyed at least 90% of the possession, scoring twice in the opening fifteen minutes, through Jack Beadle and Bailey Mummery, narrowly missing several other chances and looking as if they were going to strike up a cricket score. It was just that easy at that point.
As an illustration as to how matters change quickly in football, Ashford suddenly seemed to lose their focus with passes going astray all over the field and carelessness creeping in. As a result Cove were starting to enjoy more possession of the ball, more often than not when it was given to them, and out of the blue they pulled one back, when big Cyril Ocansey, who actually made 21 appearances for Ashford in the 2013-2014 season and was quite a favourite, persisted and was rewarded for his running as he pulled one back.
There was no immediate panic but just before half-time, Cove scored again, this time through Phillips, to level the scores and it was game on.
Within a minute of the re-start though, it was game off again as Beadle, quite rightly named later as “Ashford Man of the Match” pulled one back with a fierce effort that may have gone in anyway but took a slight deflection which gave the keeper no chance. Dan Fleming then quickly restored the two goal cushion and whilst Cove continued to make the Ashford defenders work when they broke, the result was never in doubt after that.
After the inept performance of the referee in last season’s encounter, it was a relief that referee Davis was in benevolent mood, not finding it necessary to take a single name throughout the 90 minutes, which was good to see, so well done to him and both sides. Apart from his time keeping, which raised an eyebrow or two and even a shackle from the Ashford bench at the end, any criticism was aimed at the far side assistant in the first half who gave a blatantly poor offside decision that would otherwise have seen Dan Fleming right through on the end of probably the best passing movement of the afternoon.
The result and others leaves Ashford in 3rd place with both Hartley Wintney and Hanworth Villa winning at previously undefeated clubs. It is still too early to take too much notice of the table though and, for some of the match at least, Cove proved that there are no easy matches in the League. Ashford though, with Max Webb back on Saturday and Scott Weight nearly there, seem well prepared for the rigours of a long season. A special mention also goes to Harry Driver who came in at right back, with Samad Kazi unavailable and Joe Green injured and gave the sort of disciplined performance he is concentrating upon this season.
There is no midweek match this week, so the next game is at Short Lane on Saturday when the Tangerines will welcome Bedfordhire based AFC Kempston Rovers in the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup. They are from the same league as Wellingborough Town but doing rather better so it is bound to be a tough encounter. There will be more on the game later in the week.
Our partners BA won their first league match on Saturday, by four goals to three against Kilburn FC, whilst the Under-18’s enjoyed a 5-2 victory in a friendly at Abbey Rangers on Friday. The Under-18’s open their league campaign this Wednesday with a home Ryman Youth League match against Bedfont Sports. Our neighbours have done very well in recent seasons with their youth team set up and it will be a tough match for Ashford. With most of last seasons’ youngsters having gone, Ashford’s team will be largely built upon their successful Sunday U16 side from last season, but one or two have already made cameo appearances in 1st Team matches, so under manager Nick Bailey it is hoped they will soon find their feet.
Finally, words are fairly useless but like all clubs we send our condolences to Worthing United and the families of the two players who so cruelly lost their lives in the air accident at Shoreham.