In case you aren't aware, the Club is open tomorrow evening for the annual New Year's Party and here is a message from Vice-Chairman, Nick Bailey, with al the details.  Everyone welcome!

Hi all

I hope you all had a brilliant Christmas.

Just to let you all know that we will be having a new year's eve party at the club, we have a DJ booked from 7PM until late.

If you haven't already made your plans, everyone is welcome to attend.

There will be plenty of bar deals on during the night with shots & cocktails on offer.

It would be great if you, your family & friends came along, the more the merrier.

I hope to see you on Saturday night.

Thanks,

Nick.

A fairly even match overall saw Ashford and Egham share the points on Boxing Day in a 1-1 draw, a result that most people thought accurately reflected the game.

The match itself marked skipper Russell Canderton’s 600th 1st Team competitive start for Ashford and supporters from both sides gave him generous applause and quite rightly as this is a terrific record that will certainly not be broken for a long time.

Ashford started well and dominated the very early possession but it didn’t last for too long and it was Egham who went ahead following a poor clearance from goalkeeper Tyler Tobin, back in league action for the first time since falling off a ladder at work several months ago.  Egham’s Jordan Berry, a recent recruit from AFC Hayes, made the most of the error to put his side ahead.  The visitors could have gone further ahead but for some excellent work by Tobin that more than made up for his slip, and, it has to be said, Ashford were grateful tot he woodwork.  Ashford’s best chance in the opening 45 came when Mark Bitmead got through but was unable to generate sufficient power in his shot.

The second half saw Ashford in determined mood and it was Dan Fleming who eventually notched the equaliser from the spot after he had been fouled just inside the area.  Ashford thought they had a second when referee Gill waved play on after a foul by an Egham player, allowing Alex Fisher to play on, crossing the ball to Fleming only for the referee then to bring play back and give the free kick instead as Fleming swept the ball into the net.  It didn’t look like great officiating, albeit an isolated incident, but it was Egham’s turn to be aggrieved later when a very strong penalty appeal was turned down.

As the match entered its dying moments both sides were determined not to let the precious point slip and thus it proved.  The Ashford “Man of the Match” by a close head was Max Webb.

In summary 2016 has been a good year for the Tangerines with promotion being sealed in the summer, followed by a very satisfactory consolidation in the first half of this season, from which we will hope to push on in the second half of the campaign.

A big thank you to all our supporters and we hope to see you at Farnborough on Monday 2 January, kick-off 3.00 p.m.  The next home match for the 1st Team is on Saturday 7 January, when Bedford Town will be making their first ever visit.

Vice Chairman Nick Bailey is planning the New Year’s Eve Celebrations at the Club and there will be more details in the next day or so.

Finally we send our deepest condolences to Fleet Town, whose Chairman Steve Cantle died suddenly on Christmas Eve, necessitating the postponement of the scheduled match between Fleet and Farnborough on Boxing Day.

Ashford won a competitive friendly at home to Guildford City by 4 goals to 1 on Wednesday evening.

The promised rain never arrived and in a fairly brisk first half neither side were able to trouble the scorers.  It was a different matter in the second period as both sides scored within a minute or so of the re-start.  Mark Bitmead put Ashford ahead only for the visitors to equalise following a slip by Tyler Tobin.

Ashford were then awarded a penalty after some doubt as to where the offence had taken place and Dan Fleming put it away.  There were now regular substitutions with Ashford introducing a number of younger players, including Lewis Haldane, who increased the Tangerines’ lead on 80 minutes.  Two minutes later, with Guildford looking as if they’d run out of puff, skipper Russell Canderton scored the final goal.

There were various positives to take from the game for Ashford but an ankle injury to Joe Green has probably made him doubtful for the match at home to Egham on Boxing Day.

Thank you to everyone who took part in the Christmas Draw on Sunday.  Here is the list of winners and prizes can be collected from the club any day from around midday on.

ASHFORD TOWN CHRISTMAS DRAW 2016

PRIZE

NUMBER

PRIZE

WINNER

TICKET NUMBER

01

Bombay Gin

Laura Butler

0266

02

Gordon’s Gin

Alan Cox

2627

03

Jack Daniels

Martin U-15

2916

04

Three Barrels Brandy

Tony Guttridge

4227

05

Case Budweiser

Roger Smart

0842

06

Case Coors Light

Martin U-15

4567

07

Case Fosters

Eddie Ashton, 31 The Avenue, Sunbury

3420

08

Case Real Ale

Tommy Brunton

1302

09

Jacobs Creek Wine (2 bottles)

Mark

1810

10

Bird Secretary wine (2 bottles)

Andy  c/o Alan Cox

2699

11

Vina Aroba wine (2 bottles)

R. Jaynt, 46 Peninsular Close, Bedfont

3685

12

Condorito Wine (2 bottles)

Darryl

0698

13

Prosecco Hamper

Chris Canderton

0429

14

Magnum Prosecco

Mandy Burne, 91 Worple Ave, Staines

2801

15

Magnum Prosecco

P. Playford c/o Geoff Knock

2068

16

Extra Large Turkey

Martin U-15

2960

17

Leg of lamb

Graham Felce

2387

18

Gammon Joint

Martin U-15, Kieran O

4008

19

Beef joint

Eddie

0812

20

Tub Heros Chocs

Brendan Costello

2876

21

Tub Celebration Chocs

Nick Bailey

4155

22

Victoria Biscuits

Chris Canderton

0463

23

Shortbread

Dan Butler

0221

24

Musical Biscuit Barrel

J.Dudley (c/o Sue Cox)   (collected by Liam)

2618

25

Panattone

Celia Munday

3560

26

Chocolate Tree

Martin U-15

4009

27

Biscuits & Toffee Tower

Tyler Tobin

1919

28

Hamper

Pat Munns

1110

29

Pamper Set

Bob Parker

4886

30

Body Lotion

Sandra Brent

2086

31

Gents Body Set

J.Dudley c/o Sue Cox (collected by Liam)

2610

32

Baylis Ladies Gift Set

Rudolf Petruso (c/o Graham Felce)

3674

33

Popcorn maker

Martin U-15

4620

34

Star Wars Toy set

Dave Baker

0167

35

Angry Birds Toy Set

Sally Hurst (c/o Paul U-13)

4194

36

Outdoor Planter

Rinia Sachdlua

2984

37

Biscuit Hamper

Gareth c/o Superior (c/o Graham Felce)

2307

38

Martini Rosso

Darryl

0627

39

Terracotta Serving Pots

Emma Bailey

4047

In what was probably a highly entertaining match for any neutral on Saturday, Ashford conspired to throw away the chance of at least a point in a 3-5 defeat at second place Royston Town.

It could be argued that, on the second half display alone, when Ashford fought back from 1-3 down to equalise and then have two more efforts kicked off the line, not to mention missing a penalty kick, the Tangerines deserved, at the very least a draw but the sobering thought is that if you concede five goals you cannot realistically expect anything other than defeat.

It was a funny old match from the beginning.  The home side started like a train forcing several corners in the opening few minutes, all well taken, and forcing the visitors on to the back foot.  After a number of prolonged attacks, Ashford finally broke clear for the first time and the ball found itself at the feet of leading scorer Mark Bitmead, who had been experiencing a lean run, but the experienced striker never hesitates to shoot and he duly found the corner of the net with a low effort from which Royston keeper Dodge should probably have done better.  He didn’t though and the visitors went ahead.

Royston were affronted and frankly took charge of the remainder of the half, with goals from Bridges and two from Frendo.  On the balance of play the scoreline was probably right although Ashford had always looked dangerous on the occasional breakaway.

At the half-time whistle, few would have expected any other result than a solid victory for the home side but it didn’t quite work out like that as, whatever Ben Murray said to his troops, it was a revitalised Ashford side that set out to recover what seemed a lost cause.  It didn’t go well at first when Bitmead missed a penalty kick after a wallop administered to Dan Fleming which might have brought greater punishment on another day than the sole yellow card of the game issued by referee Nigel Smith.

The thinking immediately after the miss was that any chance we might have had, had disappeared but suddenly it was Ashford controlling the match and on the hour mark, full back Joe Green popped up to reduce the arrears after a goalmouth scramble.  Ashford continued to push and even the most hard bitten of Royston supporters would have found it hard to deny that the Tangerines deserved an equaliser, which duly arrived on 81 minutes, once again courtesy of the free scoring (in this match at least) Green.

Within minutes two more goal line clearances prevented Ashford from taking the lead and it seemed that only one side could win the match.  That is always true of course, but sSadly for Ashford, it was not them but Royston who scored what turned out to be the killer blow with six minutes left on the clock.  Maybe Ashford should have tried to shut up shop after equalising but that is never the Ashford way and at least the effort from Royston’s Orlando-Young deserved to win any game, a fierce swerving effort from distance giving Kav Keadall no chance as it flew into the top corner of the net.  Why the striker wasn’t shut down though is another question.  A cruel fifth goal for Royston in stoppage time, with almost the whole of the Ashford side caught upfield as they made belated efforts to equalise again, resulted in a scoreline that was quite hard to take after the second half efforts but well done to Royston, who will certainly take some shifting from the promotion positions.

On we go though with the next competitive match at home to Egham Town on Boxing Day, which kicks off at 1.00 p.m.  It goes without saying that it will be another tough old match as we know the Sarnies have plenty of talented players but if Ashford can match their second half display on Saturday, who knows.

Before that, Ben Murray has organised a friendly for this Wednesday evening at home to CCL club Guildford City, kick-off 7.45, which will be an opportunity to experiment a little, although it will still be largely a 1st Team side.  Entry is reduced to just £3 (£2 OAP’s, free for children Under-16).

There is also an Under18 match this evening (Monday 19th) with the side taking on Staines Town U18 at Wheatsheaf Lane.

Finally it can be confirmed that Jack Beadle has left and has moved to Egham Town.  Jack played in 153 competitive matches for the club, scoring 44 goals, including 4 this season and we thank him for all his efforts on behalf of Ashford in recent seasons.

Ashford face another longish journey on Saturday when they travel to Royston Town in Hertfordshire.  The journey is one of 66 miles, so a bit less than last week, and the address of the ground is 8A Garden Walk, Royston, Herts, SG8 7HP.  Kick-off is at the usual 3.00 p.m.

Royston currently sit in 2nd position in the table, level on points with and with having matches in hand over leaders Farnborough.  They have recently enjoyed a successful run in the FA Trophy, finally losing at home in a replay on Tuesday evening against Dulwich Hamlet.  Last week they almost won at Dulwich before the home side scored two late goals to level the tie and ultimately take the game to a replay. 

It will obviously be a tough match but Ashford should be more or less at full strength, apart from a couple of longer term injuries and will also be buoyed by the availability of Scott Weight, back from suspension.  Just as importantly, the Tangerines have rather restored confidence over the last two games, banging in nine goals and not one of them from leading scorer Mark Bitmead who rarely goes too many games without a goal.  It is true that last week’s opponents Histon are rooted at the foot of the table but they have not lost too many other than by a solitary goal and despite them giving us a hard match we were generally very good value for the three points.  Despite the recent indifferent spell, hopefully now behind us, we remain the 3rd top scorers in the Division.

Our past record against Royston is less encouraging as over four previous encounters we have only managed two draws and two defeats.  The most recent match was in March 2014 when we drew two apiece at Royson, our goals coming from Scott Weight and Conor Moody.

Following tomorrow’s match, we face an equally tough match on Boxing Day, 26 December, when we entertain neighbours Egham Town at Short Lane, kicking off at 1.00 p.m.  We can hopefully look forward to a sizeable attendance for that one.

Beforehand though, we have the Christmas Draw this Sunday, the 18th, commencing sharp at 3.00 p.m.  There are lots of prizes this year and a big thank you goes to everyone who has been kind enough to donate a prize or two and thank you also of course, to everyone who has bought tickets.

Next Friday, 23 December, is party night when Father Christmas will be around earlier in the evening.  Everyone is welcome.

Finally, as a club, we send our commiserations to ex-Ashford player Andy Smith, who has now lost both mum and dad within a 2-3 weeks of each other.  Arthur, who reached the age of 94, used to be a regular supporter of the club and often used to regale us with tales of his seafaring days.  RIP Mr. & Mrs. Smith, well remembered at Ashford Town.

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.

 

Ashford will break new ground on Saturday with their first ever visit to Histon FC, who play at the Glassworld Stadium, Bridge Road, Impington, Cambridge, CB24 9PH.  It will be the longest league journey of the season at around 82 miles, via the M25 (north), A1M, A505, M11 and then A414.  Kick-off is 3.00 p.m.

Histon rose to become members of the National Conference in time for the 2007-08 season and finished in 7th place in their first season at that level and then bettered it the following season with a 3rd placed finish.  Since then though they have slipped and find themselves competing at this level for the first time in many years following their relegation from the Premier Division of the Southern League last season.  They have not endured a great time this season, last winning in the League on 5 November but the win was notable, being a 6-2 victory at Barton, with five goals in the last 20 minutes.  The defeats since then though have all been by a solitary goal bar one whilst our League form, of course, has been equally poor in recent weeks.

In Wednesday's win we came close to reproducing our early season form though and Ben Murray, hopefully fortified by the return to the squad of Russell Canderton from suspension and Max Webb from injury, will look for that form to continue.  Histon will doubtless see the match as one they can win and it will probably be a close affair.

If selected, the game, incidentally will mark Russell's 599th 1st Team competitive start, with hopefully the big 600 to come at Royston next week.

 

For those who used the M25/M40/A40 route to reach Hanwell Town last night, where Southall play, it was a nightmare journey that took 2 hours to complete, despite the clubs being only 15 miles apart.  It was little better on the return journey, with a nasty looking accident reducing the A40 to a single lane at one point, resulting in a massive traffic jam.  Possibly a small price to pay if someone lost their life in what looked a very serious incident, so let’s hope that wasn’t the case.

From an Ashford perspective, the journey was worth it as the Tangerines played some excellent football in a 5-2 victory over Spartan S. Midlands side Southall.  That may be looked upon as nothing less than expected, given the current status of both clubs, but with Ashford’s recent poor form plus the fact that Southall are a very decent side and still going strong in the FA Vase, it was enough to re-build confidence and put Ashford in much finer fettle for the trip to Histon on Saturday.

The game could not have started any better for Murray’s men:  within the first 8 minutes Ashford were two up and seemingly coasting.  The first came on 7 minutes when the excellent Dan Fleming converted a low cross and then, a minute later, the second when Kam English generally giving his full back a torrid time, smashed in a shot that gave the keeper no chance.

The third goal arrived on 27 minutes and it rivalled the previous one for “goal of the game”.  A flowing movement down the left flank saw Fleming once again in the right place to make it count.

At this stage Southall had hardly been in the match but they did not lay down and some of their football was equally admirable.  It still came as a bit of a shock though when they quickly pulled one back before half-time and then another just six minutes into the second period.

On a nigh perfect surface for this time of the year and with perfect playing conditions, Ashford controlled the situation well on this occasion and eventually clinched the game when Fleming hammered in the fourth goal and Alex Fisher then popped up with the 5th very soon afterwards.

Southall’s Adam Louth was perhaps fortunate to escape with any sanction when he seemed to punch Harry Herdman in a clash before half-time but following the spate of bookings in Ashford’s two previous matches, it was possibly a relief that the match was controlled by referee Marvin Thompson, who did not once reach for his book, even when he possibly should have done so.  Mr. Thompson, incidentally was refereeing Ashford for the first time since 2008.

Apart from the result, there were other clear positives for Ashford, not least the return to action of goalkeeper Tyler Tobin after three months out.  Young Harry Herdman, stepping up from the Under-18’s, looked a far stronger player than last season and certainly did himself no harm with his performance whilst there was also a very encouraging display from the sub’s bench of debutant Arlan Kadima.

There will be more on the trip to Histon tomorrow but with Max Webb expected to be fit enough to return and no obvious injuries last night, Murray will have almost a full squad from which to select his side.

The Under-18’s, under the control of Nick Bailey, with manager Will Boye engaged with the 1st Team, emphasised their recent improvement with a 6-2 victory at home to Northwood U18 in the Ryman Youth League.  A good night all round!

 

The Clubhouse and Bar will be open at the Club over the holiday period as follows:

CHRISTMAS EVE, 24 DEC                     Midday – 11.00 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY, 25 DEC                    11.00 a.m. – 3.00 p.m.

BOXING DAY, 26 DEC                           10.30 a.m. – 10.30 p.m.  (Match v Egham, 1.30 p.m.)

TUE 27 DEC                                            Midday – 11.00 p.m.

WED 28 DEC                                          Midday – 11.00 p.m.

THU 29 DEC                                           Midday – 11.00 p.m.

FRI 30 DEC                                             Midday – 11.00 p.m.

SAT 31 DEC                                            Midday – late (New Years Eve party)

SUN 1 JAN                                              Midday – 5.00 p.m.

MON 2 JAN on                                      Normal hours resume                                                        

It was another very busy and largely successful Sunday for our various Junior sides and here are all the results:

Michael U7s 12-0 Woking

Matt U9s 2-1 Sheen Lions

Rhys U9s 5-0 Hampton

Ryan U9s 0-2 Old Isworthians

Matt U10s 3-1 Kew Park

Joe U12s 1-2 South Park

Larry U13s 4-2 Esher Royals

John U13s 6-4 Carshalton

Paul U13s 4-1 Sutton

Craig U14s 1-1 Kew Park Rangers

Fin U14s 4-3 Corinthians

Martin U15s 6-0 Oxshott

Ben U16s 4-3 Sheen Lions

Simon U16s 2-6 NPL

 The Ladies drew one apiece with Colne Valley but remain at the top of the Division 2 South table of the Greater London Women’s League, one point clear of Carshalton Athletic Dev and Crystal Palace Dev, but with one and three matches in hand respectively.

Firstly an update upon fixtures:

The midweek match this week, which was to be played at home against Southall in the Middlesex Charity Cup on Tuesday evening has been switched to Southall’s adopted home at Hanwell Town and will be played on Wednesday.  Southall were drawn at home in the first place but the switch has come because apparently they are also playing in their League on Tuesday evening.  It all seems a bit odd but our match is definitely on Wednesday evening, kick-off 7.45 p.m. at Hanwell Town, with the winners drawn away to North Greenford United.

Next, the kick-off time for the home match against Egham on Boxing Day has been brought forward to 1.00 p.m. by mutual agreement, whilst the new date for the Marlow match, postponed last week due to a frozen pitch, is Tuesday 10 January, at Marlow, kick-off 7.45 p.m.

Back to Saturday and sadly the recent poor run went on in the cruellest of ways, with Beaconsfield snatching the winner in the 6th minute of stoppage time from the penalty spot.  It is hard to understand why we have suddenly lost form.  Earlier in the season we played some of the best football an Ashford team has played for a long time but right now we are plagued by poor finishing, poor defending and on Saturday, by poor discipline.

Beaconsfield had suddenly found some form coming into the match with two solid wins behind them but nevertheless Ashford started well and had three reasonable chances within the opening five minutes which, had any been taken, would have put a different complexion on the match.  None were though and the match evened out.  Ashford still had more of it and all looked well when Kam English raced in to meet a superb cross from Mark Bitmead to open the scoring on the stroke of half-time.

Sadly Ashford were unable to hold on to the lead for more than five minutes as SYCOB equalised very quickly in the second period when Jack McKnight was allowed the time to shoot past Kav Keadell.

After that the visitors improved significantly in the possession stakes as Ashford seemed to sit back.  In a match that was devoid of any nasty stuff, referee Gill managed to take six names and there was then a curious moment when Scott Weight committed one foul too many and was sent off for persistent infringement.  The foul itself was not worthy of any disciplinary action but Mr. Gill had been quick with the cards all afternoon  and in that sense he was consistent.  Before play could re-start though, with both sides lining up for the free kick, a Beaconsfield player kicked an Ashford defender.  There was probably a reason why he did so but you can’t blatantly kick out and he joined his fellow miscreant in the dressing room.

A few minutes later with Ashford defending desperately to hold on to at least the one point, Will Boye then gave away the foul for a penalty smashed home by Beaconsfield’s Callum Bunting, to signal another bad day.

The squad is mostly the same as when we were winning and looking good.  Confidence has obviously dropped for no good reason and we now need the squad and management to work hard to turn matters round, starting on Wednesday. One win and it will all come flooding back.  We also need our supporters to help.  It is frustrating when things go wrong but there is no lack of effort and the lads need your support to help us get through this annoying little period, which all clubs suffer from time to time.

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