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The match at Marlow yesterday evening was eventually postponed following a late inspection by the match referee and there weren't too many objections with one area of the pitch, in front of Marlow's large stand, looking extremely frozen well over an hour before the match was due to commence.  A new date will be announced in due course.

With no Under-18 match this week, the next game is on Saturday at home to Beaconsfield SYCOB, more of which later in the week.

The club will be open as usual this evening though and the League Cup match between Manchester United and West Ham will be showing.

This evening’s match at Marlow is 50/50 at the moment with a pitch inspection due at around 6.15 pm, which is the earliest time that the match referee will arrive.

If you are travelling best phone Marlow on 01628 483970 as no further updates will be possible.

Ashford lost at home for the second time in a week on Saturday, as visitors Northwood took all three points in a 2-0 victory.

The Tangerines are going through one of those little periods when little is going right in front of goal, when a week or so back, whilst not exactly scoring goals for fun, they were notching regularly to the point where they had never failed to score in a league match, going way back to last season.

The situation was perfectly illustrated very early on in this match when referee Bandara awarded Ashford a rather soft penalty kick.  You can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times that Mark Bitmead misses from the spot but on this occasion, his effort hit the top of the bar and ballooned over.  It may well have been a very different match had that gone in but after dominating the early stages, Ashford  allowed Northwood back into the match and they took the lead soon afterwards from a free kick some fifteen yards outside the area.  The scorer was Louis Stead and he will never hit a better strike as the ball flew into the top corner, giving Kav Keadell little chance of stopping the effort.

After that the game became something of a stalemate.  There was nothing wrong with Ashford’s general play or effort but as the game wore on, the current struggle to score goals became more evident.  Northwood were having less of the play but doubled the lead six minutes after the break and it was a well-worked goal to be fair, finished off by Louis Bircham, following a breakaway from an Ashford corner.

There were some efforts that went close, not least Bitmead hitting the woodwork again and one or two others that went too high but it was looking a lost cause and so it turned out.

There is nothing too much to worry about:  we know this team can play great football at times and score goals.  We need though to get the confidence and belief back that generally hasn’t been missing this season and the first opportunity comes on Tuesday evening when we make the trip to Marlow.

Off the field it was a good weekend, with the Race Night on Friday going well plus an improved attendance on Saturday, and the clubhouse was rocking, partly due to the Chelsea/Spurs match being on.  Now that BT has made a more sensible offer, we are retaining BT Sport, so you can watch all the European games at the club so why not come down.  Some incredible generosity saw the HASAG Charity receiving a substantial boost to their funds and it was good to have DJ David “Diddy” Hamilton with us as a special guest, and enthralling us with stories about Fulham FC and some of the characters from the past.

On Tuesday the ground address is:  The Alfred Davis Ground, Oak Tree Road, Marlow, SL7 3ED.  It is a journey of around 25 miles via either the M4 or the M40 and kick-off is 7.45 p.m.

Like ourselves Marlow have been in mixed form recently, exemplified by their last two results, a 4-0 win at Arlesey on Saturday, being preceded by a 0-3 defeat at Kidlington.  Generally though, our opponents have been enjoying a good season, and currently sit ten points in front of us although we have a match in hand.

Many of us will pay their last respects today to Keith Balmer, long time supporter and our ex-General Secretary, who was a much loved Ashford man, with the cremation taking place today (Monday) at 1.40 p.m. at Hanworth Crematorium.  The club will be open afterwards for anyone who wishes to come back.

Ashford were defeated on Tuesday evening losing 1-3 at home to Hanwell Town.

The match started at a furious pace as they so often do and whilst it was end to end action, it was very difficult for either side to get the ball down and play.  There were opportunities at both ends but it was the visitors who eventually scored the opening goal on 27 minutes with a quality strike from Joe Chandiram, whose dad used to be very active at Ashford a few years ago and was instrumental in us achieving the FA Chartered Status distinction at the time.

Within moments though, Ashford struck back with the second quality goal of the evening.  Bailey Mummery started the move, which saw both Max Webb and Mark Bitmead involved, the latter evading all attempts to stop him as he crossed the ball for Dan Fleming to level the scores.

That was it for the first half in which both sides had been evenly matched.   Matters went wrong for the Tangerines within three minutes of the re-start though, when another effort, this time from Zac Joseph, whose strike took something of a deflection that left Kav Keadall with no chance of preventing the visitors from going ahead.

Ashford have often fought back in such circumstances, scoring any number of late goals this season to increase their points tally, as indeed they did at Hanwell at the start of the season but it was not to be this time round as Hanwell looked comfortable for the most time in protecting the lead whenever Ashford attacked.  Despite everyone’s best efforts, the intensity was just not there on this occasion and it was not a great surprise when the visitors extended their lead to seal the match with ten minutes left through Ricky Pither.  It came from what looked an error by skipper Russ Canderton, now just four matches short of his 600th 1st Team start for the Club, who seemed to head the ball past his own keeper giving Hanwell a fairly straightforward finish.  The writer may be doing him a disservice as it was difficult to see from the other end exactly what happened but there was no doubting after that, that the three points were on their way back to Hanwell.

Although it did not affect the result in any way, both sides were critical of the refereeing after the match, not so much due to his general performance but as a result of him finding it necessary to caution no less than nine players altogether.  There was no attempt at man-management in a match that had very few fouls.  Mr. Farrer is, of course, well known to us following the farce of a match at Spelthorne Sports two seasons ago in which he officiated.

The games are coming thick and fast at the moment and Ashford have an early opportunity to get back on the winning trail when they entertain Northwood on Saturday, at Short Lane, kick-off 3.00 p.m.  It will not be easy, as no matches ever are at this level, and one suspects that our opening day victory at Northwood was one where we caught our opponents off guard.  Our thanks go to Heathrow Personnel who are kindly sponsoring the match ball.

The match will see a visit from a special guest, DJ David “Diddy” Hamilton, who is an old friend of our Chairman.  Apparently they played football together so it must have been some years ago mind.  David now does the tannoy system for Fulham and is still very active in the music business and we look forward to his visit, which is also in conjunction with a charity appeal.  HASAG (I hope I’ve got that right) are a small charity who look after people who have been afflicted by exposure to asbestos and with the Chairman now battling so bravely against the resulting disease, it is highly relevant to us at the moment.  We will be taking a collection if anyone feels able to contribute and you can also do so through their website at www.hasag.co.uk/

In the meantime, the Under-18’s managed a point in a 1-1 draw with Bedfont Sports on Wednesday evening, whilst last week’s junior results and this Sunday’s fixtures are shown below.  The Ladies marched on in the Capital Women’s Cup, with a 10-0 victory away to Larkspur Rovers Ladies.  The win puts them into the Quarter Finals in which they will play away to AFC Phoenix Ladies Reserves but not until 19 February.  This coming Sunday they are away to Clapham Rovers Ladies in the League.

Don’t forget the Race Night on Friday evening which is sure to be a lot of fun and may well be a profitable night for some!

Here are this week’s Junior Fixtures for Sunday:

Ashford Sports Club - Club House 11-a-side Pitch

Conor U16s v South Park 12.30

Ashford Sports Club – Short Lane 11-a-side Pitch

John U13s v Mitcham Park 10am

Ben U16s v Royals Elite 11:30

Martin U15s v Mitcham Park 1pm

Ashford Town 5 – 5 Pitch 1

Neil U8s v 4 team tournament 10am-12pm

Michael U7s v Walton Casuals 12pm

Ashford Town 5 – 5 Pitch 2

Steve U8s v 4 team tournament 10am-12pm

Ashford Town 7 – 7 Pitch

Matt U9s v Sandgate 10am

Andy U9s v Whitton Wanderers 11am

Ryan U9s v Merton 12pm

Ashford Town 9 – 9 Pitch

Joe U12s v SCR Colts 10am

Nelson U11s v Rocks Lane 11am

Ashford Town – Outfield

Carl 10:30

Paul U13s v Woking Cougars 12:30

Simon U16s v Molesey 2pm

Away Games

Bill U7s v 4 team tournament at Met Police  

Chris U7s v 4 team tournament at Bedfont

Rhys U9s v Walton Casuals

Matt U10s v Kew Association

Graham U11s v Sheen Lions

Kirk U11s v Kew Park Rangers

Larry U13s v Esher Wizards

Craig U14s v Stoneleigh

Fin U14s v Esher Colts

 

Last Week’s Results

Michael U7s 11-4 Walton & Hersham

Andy U9s 7-4 Spelthorne

Matt U10s 5-3 Halliford Colts

Graham U11s 2-2 Raynes Park

Joe U12s 0-11 Motspur

Larry U13s 7-2 Hampton Youth

John U13s 1-2 Elm Grove

Paul U13s 1-1 Farnham Town

Craig U14s 7-0 Kew Park

Fin U14s 6-2 Chipstead

Martin U15s 2-3 Manorcroft

Ben U16s 3-2 Old Coulsdon

Conor U16s 2-3 Rushmoor 

 

The last time that Ashford were involved in a scoreless draw was over two years ago, on 8 November 2014 at Hartley Wintney, so possibly another one was on the cards and so it turned out at Chalfont St. Peter on Saturday, when neither side could break the deadlock.

It is fair to say that both keepers were largely responsible for that with Kav Keadell and Gary Malone for the home side not putting a foot (or hand) wrong.  Malone was the busier of the two overall and he should have conceded within the first minute of the match when a wicked cross from Kam English found Mark Bitmead but he just couldn’t get to the ball quickly enough to make meaningful contact and the chance was lost.  Sometime later Bitmead was thwarted again when Malone made the save of the match low at his far post.

It was not all one-way traffic though and Ben Murray was pleased overall with his side’s defending which was perhaps exemplified by the fact that the vote for the “Ashford man of the match” went to Will Boye who, along with his defensive colleagues,  gave a dominant performance at the back for Ashford.

The early part of the second half saw Chalfont enjoying their best period but they could not make it tell and Ashford rather regained the ascendancy by the end but a stalemate it was.  At the end of the day it was an away point, a clean sheet and a committed performance from the visitors, leaving the management reasonably pleased, despite not picking up all three points.

Ashford have some very tough looking matches coming up in the near future, starting on Tuesday evening when Hanwell Town are the visitors to Short Lane.  The two clubs fought out a 2-2 draw at Hanwell early in the season and there is every prospect  of another close match.  Kick-off is 7.45 p.m.

It’s back to the league on Saturday as Ashford make the comparatively short journey to play Chalfont St. Peter.  The address of the ground is:  Mill Meadow, Gravel Hill, Chalfont St. Peter, Bucks, SL9 9QX and there is a reasonably sized car-park.  It is a journey of just under 18 miles via the M25, the M40, A40 and finally the A413

This is the first return match of the season as we lost at home back in August by 3 goals to 2 against Chalfont, which was in fact our first defeat of the season after two winning matches, when we were possibly a little unlucky to lose on that occasion, our goals coming from Mark Bitmead and Kam English.

Chalfont enjoyed an invigorating start to the season but have slipped a little recently and currently find themselves in 12th position in the table although everyone is bunched up anyway so that doesn’t mean too much.  Chalfont are still involved in the FA Trophy and have a home replay on Tuesday evening against Burgess Hill Town, with whom they drew two apiece on Tuesday evening.  It is likely that we will renew acquaintance with both Jack Mullan and Kofi Lockhart-Adams on Saturday with both playing these days for Chalfont.

From an Ashford perspective, it is not encouraging to look back at previous results between our clubs as we have only managed to lose four and draw four of the last eight matches between us.  Indeed, it is necessary to go back to 3 March 2001 for our last win even though it was a handsome one 8-0, and was a Ryman League, Division 3 game.

Our junior sides are fully occupied on Sunday and here are their fixtures:

Ashford Town 5 – 5 Pitch 1

Chris U8s v Whitton Wanderers 10am

Michael U7s v Walton & Hersham 11am

Ashford Town 5 – 5 Pitch 2

Steve U8s v Spelthorne Sports 10am

Bill U8s v Old Isworthians 11am

Neil U8s v Twickenham Tigers 12pm

Ashford Town 7 – 7 Pitch

Matt U10s v Halliford Colts 11am

Ashford Town 9 – 9 Pitch

Nelson U11s v Spelthorne Sports 10am

Graham U11s v Raynes Park 11am

Ashford Town – Outfield

Gary Men v Staines 10:30am

Larry U13s v Hampton Youth 12:30 

Away Games

Andy U9s v Mayford

Matt U9s v Kew Association

Rhys U9s v Walton & Hersham

Ryan U9s v Kingston Town

Kirk U11s v Woking Town Raiders 

Joe U12s v Motspur Park

John U13s v Elm Grove Colts

Paul U12s v Farnham Town

Craig U14s v Kew Park Rangers

Fin U14s v Chipstead

Martin U15s v Manorcroft

Ben U16s v Old Coulsdon

Conor U16s v Rushmoor Saints

Simon U16s v Lyne

There’s no stopping the Ladies at the moment:  last Sunday they ran up a 14-1 win over Clapham United Reserves to maintain their position as top of Division 2 South of the Great London Women’s League.  On Sunday they are away to Larkspur Rovers in the 3rd Round of the Capital Women’s Junior Cup.

The 1st Team’s next match, after tomorrow, is at home to Hanwell Town on Tuesday evening.

 

A 56th minute strike from Knaphill’s Danny Taylor on Tuesday evening ensured that Ashford’s interest in this season’s Surrey Senior Cup would be brief.

Manager Ben Murray rotated his squad leaving a number of senior players on the bench, with leading scorer Mark Bitmead not involved at all, but nothing should be taken away from the visitors who, having snatched the lead early in the second half, in a generally even affair, defended extremely well as Ashford pressure finally took momentum as the match wore on.  We wish Knaphill good luck in the next round and also a speedy recovery to Romario Jonas who suffered a painful shoulder injury towards the end of the match.

It was a shame from Ashford’s point of view but Ben Murray’s eyes are firmly set upon Saturday’s difficult test away to Chalfont St. Peter, more of which to follow.

We now know that the funeral for Keith Balmer will take place at Hanworth Crematorium on Monday 28 November at 1.40 p.m.  There are no special instructions regarding flowers or dress.  Hopefully the club will be fully represented.

An absorbing contest on Saturday saw Ashford drawing one apiece with Aylesbury United, thanks to a penalty right at the death, scored by Mark Bitmead.

Over the 90 minutes this was probably the fairest result as the match had an end to end feel about it right from the start but prior to the game both sides and all spectators observed an immaculate minute’s silence in memory of Keith Balmer, previous General Secretary of the Club and long time supporter.  Our thanks go to Aylesbury in this respect.

Ashford made a fairly bright start and probably had their best chances early on with Mark Bitmead hitting the bar with a ferocious effort, followed soon afterwards by another rocket, this time from Dan Fleming, that went just over.  Aylesbury, no mugs, were also enjoying opportunities and Ashford needed a last gasp tackle from Scott Weight at one point to prevent the visitors from going ahead.

On around 25 minutes came both the shot and the save of the match.  Max Herbert, later voted by Ashford supporters as the “Ashford Man of the Match” and quite rightly so in the writer’s view, got through and put in a shot that had goal written all over it only for Zak Qualah in the Aylesbury goal to pull off a breathtaking save that rightly deserved the applause it received.  Kav Keadell in goal for the Tangeribes also had to be alert on more than one occasion but shortly before half-time it was the visitors who took the lead.

A shrewd pass inside Bailey Mummery let in Aylesbury’s Jake Bewley and his short cross allowed Bruno Brito to lob the ball over Keadell for the opening goal of the game.

In unusual conditions, both damp and gloomy, one wondered what the second half would bring.  It was hoped that Ashford would mount a full blooded effort to retrieve the situation and so they tried but Aylesbury were both professional and solid in defence and always looked dangerous themselves when they came forward. 

Some inviting corners from Bitmead were leading to chances but both Will Boye, otherwise excellent at the back, and Weight spurned opportunities and with time rolling on, it looked as if Aylesbury would take all three points.

Ashford have a never say die attitude about them though and this week it was their turn to score a very late goal and thus rescue a point.  In the third minute of stoppage time a move down the right saw a defender handle the ball for a penalty kick and Bitmead made no mistake.  Referee Desborough, all the way from Portsmouth (don’t worry FA – we’ve got plenty of money!) had a decent match and ended play very soon afterwards and that was that.  Overall not such a bad result against one of the best organised sides we have faced in the League this season and it was fitting that both sides were clapped off at the end after a pulsating encounter at times.

At half-time Football Secretary Geoff Knock was presented with a certificate and medal from the FA for 50 years service to football.  The presentation was done by John Taylor, Chairman of Middlesex County FA and it is a fitting tribute to Geoff’s long experience and dedication.  It was a nice touch when, after the match, there was a short speech from manager Ben Murray  whilst the players gave Geoff a special clap in a small ceremony in the club house.

It’s another home match next, on Tuesday evening, when we entertain Knaphill in the 2nd Round of the Surrey Senior Cup, kick-off 7.45 p.m.  After something of a shaky start in the CCL this season by their recent standards, they have found some form recently and we congratulate them upon an excellent victory yesterday in the FA Vase away at Hellenic League side Highworth Town, who reached the semi-finals a couple of seasons back. 

Knaphill removed us from the Surrey Senior Cup last season in something of a controversial game which saw Samad Kazi sent off near the end but over the three matches in which we played them, there was a total of 23 goals scored.  This season we are the second highest scorers in the Central Division, whilst Knaphill are the second highest scorers in the CCL, so surely goals are guaranteed on Tuesday!

Barring a monsoon of biblical proportions, Ashford's match at home to Aylesbury United is ON this afternoon.  There is no standing water on the pitch and all looks good

There will be a minute’s silence prior to this afternoon’s match at home to Aylesbury United, following the recent sad loss of ex-General Secretary, Keith Balmer.  We welcome any members of Keith’s family who are able to attend today.

On a happier note, Middlesex County FA President Jim Taylor will be on hand to present Geoff Knock with a hugely merited 50 year award from the FA for services to football.  It is fitting that Geoff’s long administrative career in football with both ourselves and Bedfont should be so recognised, as well as his refereeing career.

Our visitors are Aylesbury United to whom we offer a warm welcome.  They are three points behind us in the table and another close affair is on the cards.  Older supporters will remember when we went to Aylesbury back in 1994 when they were a very big club and pulled off a major surprise in winning 1-0 with a goal from Ryan Lake, which put us into the 4th Qualifying Round of the FA Cup.

Other than that we have only met them in two league matches in the 2013-2014 season when we were relegated and Aylesbury did the double, winning 2-1 here and 1-0 at home.

On Tuesday we are at home again, this time to Knaphill in the Surrey Senior Cup, unless Knaphill draw their FA Vase tie today, away to Highworth Town.  More on that one later

Ashford progressed to the Quarter-Final of the Middlesex Senior Cup on Tuesday evening, beating CB Hounslow United by 2 goals to 1.

The visitors who came into the match on the back of four successive league victories in the CCL, and fielding various ex-Ashford players, seemed willing, possibly too willing, to sit back and attempt to soak up the pressure in the first half, resulting in Ashford dominating much of the possession. 

When the first goal finally arrived though, in the 29th minute, after a number of opportunities had gone begging, it could be labelled as fortunate as Mark Bitmead, having picked up the ball up on the right flank, hit it in with some ferocity.  It was doubtless intended as a cross and may even have taken a slight deflection but it ended up flying into the back of the net.

Five minutes later, Ashford doubled the lead when the visiting keeper dawdled on the ball and was robbed by Tommy Brunton, leaving Dan Fleming to gently roll the ball into the empty net.

It looked game over at that point with CB offering little and maybe Ashford believed that as well but the visitors looked more determined in the second half and pulled one back on 54 minutes through Rachid Obaddy to give themselves hope, as Ashford suffered a dose of the jitters with too many passes going astray.  Manager Murray was quick to berate his troops though and the match rather fizzled out as a contest neither side able to achieve further penetration.

Ashford were disappointed with some of the refereeing again last night but it’s not worth dwelling upon, whilst the County failed to send a member-in-charge which certainly never used to happen in their flagship competition.  We now await the draw for the quarter-final.  We don’t know when that will be made or when the matches will take place as there is no clue on the County web site but presumably it will be after Christmas.

Next up is Aylesbury United, at home, on Saturday, in the League.

Here are all the junior results from yesterday's matches:

Results

Bill U8s 4-3 Rocks Lane
Neil U8s 5-4 Lyne
Andy U9s 5-3 AFC
Matt U9s 4-3 Hampton Youth
Rhys U9s 6-5 AFC
Matt U10s 4-1 Halliford
Graham U11s 5-2 Doverhouse
Kirk U11s 3-3 Kew Park
Joe U12s 1-9 Kew Park
Larry U13s 4-2 Halliford
John U13s 2-3 Claygate
Paul U13s 6-1 Old Isworthians
Craig U14s 2-1 Kew Park
Fin U14s 0-2 Wandgas
Martin U15s 7-2 Oxshott
Ben U16s 1-2 CB Hounslow
Conor U16s 0-0 Bedfont (L on Pens) 

The Ladies’ side clocked up another win in the Greater London Women’s League yesterday beating 2nd placed Godalming Town by 4 goals to 1, to maintain their unbeaten position at the top of Division 2 South.

We received the sad news last week that former Committee man and long-time Ashford supporter Keith Balmer passed away on 1 November.

Keith was a gentle man full of good humour, liked by all and a staunch supporter of the club.  He took over as the Club’s General Secretary for two years before ill health caused him to resign but he did many other jobs at different times, such as manning the turnstiles, doing team sheets when necessary and lots of other mundane but vital tasks in a football club.  On behalf of the club we send our sincere sympathies to son Liam, who is also highly involved with the club, and Liam’s two other brothers and, of course, all members of the family.

As soon as we have the funeral information, we will put it on the web site.

RIP Keith.

 

Ashford lost 2-3 away to Potters Bar Town on Saturday, following two late and highly controversial decisions by the referee, both in favour of the home club.

The Tangerines, showing several changes from Tuesday’s opening eleven, including the return of Jack Beadle after a few week’s absence, made a good start to the match, with Mark Bitmead going close but the game was generally fairly level, until some calamitous defending on 14 minutes saw the ball being given away at the back followed by a shot of no great ferocity from Ashley George but which beat Kav Keadell in goal, to give Potters Bar the lead.

It remained fairly end to end stuff but even worse defending on the stroke of half-time saw the home side extend their lead from a corner kick headed home by the completely unmarked Danny Hart

One awaited the fight back and it materialised with Ashford looking far more determined in the second 45.  On 56 minutes a determined run from Max Webb put in Beadle whose low shot found the net.  Quite soon afterwards, the scores were level.  This time Bitmead turned provider and once again it was Beadle planting the ball home.

At that point one sensed that Ashford might go on and win the match but play evened out again and it was anyone’s game.  What was hugely disappointing for Ashford though were two quick fire decisions by referee Bloy near the end which effectively handed all three points to the home side.  Firstly, a cross from the right hit Alex Fisher quite involuntarily on the hand.  His hands were not high but on the say so of the assistant, a penalty was awarded and scored by Gary Jones.

Ashford were furious but that was topped minutes later when a similar situation at the other end saw a shot deflected by a home defender in similar circumstances, with his hand, again involuntarily but if one was a penalty then the other had to be as well but it wasn’t given and a sense of absolute injustice prevailed on and off the field as far as the visitors were concerned, with both Dan Fleming and Bailey Mummery being cautioned for their protestations.

We can only move on with the next match back on home soil on Tuesday evening, against CB Hounslow United in the 2nd Round of the Middlesex Senior Cup.  More on that one tomorrow but well done to the Ladies’ side this afternoon with yet another victory this time by four goals to one.

It’s back to the League as Ashford travel to Potters Bar Town on Saturday afternoon.

The address of the ground is the Pakex Stadium, Parkfield, Watkins Rise, Potters Bar, EN6 1QB.  It is a journey of just over 36 miles, round the M25, coming off at Junction 24.

The home side currently sit in 11th place in the table , five points behind Ashford but with two matches in hand, so it goes without saying that another tough match is on the cards.

Our clubs have only met on three previous occasions, two being in this division in season 2013-2014.  We lost 0-2 at home but managed a 1-1 draw at Potters Bar, thanks to a rocket from Elliott Jones .  The only other meeting was back in the 2001-2002 season in the 2nd Round of the Middlesex Charity Cup, when we won by four goals to one, courtesy of goals from Tony Nolan (2), Richard Butler and Dean Berry.

Ashford lost 1-4 at home to Tonbridge Angels in their 1st Qualifying Round replay in the FA Trophy on Tuesday evening, although the final scoreline pays scant justice to the efforts put in by the Tangerines over the evening against one of the top Ryman Premier sides.  Tonbridge will now travel to meet Kingstonian in the 2nd Qualifying Round.

The match started badly for Ashford.  There was a determined look about the visitors from the kick-off and they were given a huge boost on just two minutes when an effort from Luke Allen took a wicked deflection into the roof of the net with Kav Keadell stranded.

Ashford’s side showed a few changes from Saturday’s starting line-up, one enforced as the ever consistent Alex Fisher was forced to sit the match out, being duly suspended for one game, having accumulated his fifth caution at Petersfield a week earlier.  A quality performance from his replacement Max Herbert though, who had been on the bench on Saturday, meant that he wasn’t missed, with Herbert later being the supporters' choice as “Ashford Man of the Match”.  Romario Jonas came in at right back in arguably his best position but up front Dan Fleming was missing, suffering a knock from Saturday.  Tonbridge had top striker Nathan Elder missing due to personal circumstances.

The visitors had their tails up and were clearly in determined mode but all credit to the Tangerines who raised their game to counter their opponents and more than one opportunity went begging before Tonbridge doubled their lead just after the half hour mark, when a left wing cross saw Luke Blewden  putting in a deft header.  The cross should really have been cut out at source but it was a quality finish.

There was no further scoring before the break but it was obvious that the next goal would have a massive bearing on the match.  It came very quickly as Max Webb, immense again last night, reduced the arrears in just the 3rd minute after the resumption.  Samad Kazi showed extraordinary pace in getting down the right wing and a low cross caused confusion in the visiting ranks.  Kam English should have put it to bed but he couldn’t quite turn it in, and it seemed the keeper would claim it.  Somehow he didn’t and to be frank it looked as if a foul might be given as everyone dug in but it was Webb who prodded it home and the goal stood.

The goal turned the match as Ashford now pressured their opponents for a long period and it may well have been that if they could have secured an equaliser within that period of dominance, the final outcome could easily have been different.  As the half wore on though, with the equaliser not coming, the intensity lessened and with just eight minutes on the clock, Tonbridge effectively made the game safe with their third goal, scored by Jerome Sobers, a header that looped over everyone.

Ashford were still not done as far as effort was concerned but two goals were now needed and as the whole team, literally, pushed up, Blewden was able to run from deep in his own half with no defender in sight before planting the ball past the stranded Keadell in the 4th minute of stoppage time, making the final score of 1-4 rather harsh on the night.

It is unlikely though that Ashford will meet a team of Tonbridge’s calibre again this season and there was no shame in this defeat.  The side will be keen to bounce back as soon as possible and the next opportunity comes on Saturday with a visit to Potters Bar Town.  There will be more on that one later in the week as Ashford begin a period of protracted action with midweek matches every Tuesday over the next few weeks, mostly at home, the first being next Tuesday when the visitors will be CB Hounslow in the Middlesex Senior Cup.