Ashford emphasised their return to form easing to a 4-1 win away at Histon on Saturday.
The home side, looking extremely young for the most part, were full of enthusiasm and to their credit maintained it throughout the match, even after the destiny of the three points had become clear. But for better finishing, that enthusiasm could have manifested itself into a goal in the opening stages as Histon took the early initiative but in just about their first meaningful attack on 9 minutes it was Ashford who took the lead. Playing wide for much of the time, Kam English was Histon’s main tormentor throughout and his pace took him to the bye line from where he cut it back and Dan Fleming managed to squeeze it into the net from a fine angle.
Just seven minutes later Ashford doubled the lead, albeit fortuitous. The ball found itself to Tommy Brunton (later voted "Ashford man of the match") in midfield who advanced and shot. It would probably have been comfortable for the keeper but it took a big deflection and ended up in the back of the net.
Histon plugged away and hit the woodwork as they attempted to pull things round but it is fair to say that Ashford were mostly in control and could well have scored again themselves before Bailey Mummery, excellent in midfield throughout, took advantage of another mazy run from English, as he banged in a rebound from close range.
The second half saw Histon fighting hard as they did all afternoon but Ashford were playing some delightful stuff at times and the fourth goal arrived on 67 minutes. Mark Bitmead was the architect receiving the ball from a defensive error and when it came out again, crossing to English who was on hand to crash home for a very deserved goal.
We then had two fairly bizarre happenings. Referee Hart came racing over to the benches in a very purposeful manner, but neither manager was in trouble. It turned out that an excessively verbal spectator behind the goal had gone too far and issued a threat to one of the assistants and the ref wanted him removed from the ground (the spectator that is, not the assistant). He was duly escorted out but apparently came back later and then had to be asked to leave the bar after the game. 10 out of 10 for sauce, but Histon said they didn’t know him and he certainly wasn’t amongst the meagre few who travelled with the Tangerines, so it was all a bit of a mystery, especially as he was heard to have a pop at both teams as well as the officials.
Then with ten minutes to go, Kav Keadell in goal for the Tangerines, who had played well on a greasy and fast surface, misjudged a bouncing ball, seemingly leaving the attacker with an open goal but Samad Kazi, with lightning pace, got back and against all odds got in a tackle which saw the ball seemingly deflected for a corner. Albeit from the stands, it looked a brilliant interception but Mr. Hart saw it differently and awarded a penalty kick which was duly scored by Joe Peacock. Kazi was shown just a yellow card which was correct under the new law as there was no doubt that he was attempting a tackle, as opposed to deliberately fouling his opponent, but it did seem quite a baffling incident, which should not though take away from the experienced manner in which Mr. Hart refereed the match.
It spoilt Ashford’s clean sheet but otherwise, the Tangerines saw out the last ten minutes safely enough. Apart from the result it was a good day, despite the incessant rain. Histon made us very welcome and the ground, fully covered on all four sides, is impressive and superb for this level of football. We look forward to welcoming their team and officials in the return match on 1 April.
After making us play on a Sunday a few weeks ago, the League has been kind enough to give us our two longest away trips in successive weeks just before Christmas and next Saturday we make a similar trip to the same part of the world to play league leaders Royston Town. More on that one later except that we need a minibus driver. Any volunteers please?
There is no midweek match for the 1st Team but on Wednesday the Under-18’s, who have picked up in recent weeks, will play at home against Hampton & Richmond Borough U18, kick-off 7.45 p.m.
Finally today, well done to all four (I think) of our junior sides competing in the later rounds of the various Middlesex County Cups, with all four winning their matches.