In some ways Ashford could conclude that they were unlucky to lose against Chalfont St Peter on Saturday, in that they enjoyed arguably the clearer chances and also that a fairly crucial refereeing decision went against them later on in the match. On the other hand, some poor defending which led to a strong Chalfont side scoring twice in three minutes early in the second half and effectively clinching the points, meant that it could equally be said that Ashford did not deserve too much from the match.
Indeed the visitors started strongly and on the overall run of play, deserved their opening goal on 18 minutes although again it could have been defended better. It came from an extraordinary long throw from Chalfont’s Chris Ellis. If anyone can throw the ball further than him in the country, we’d like to see him but there was no excuse for Ashford as we knew all about it given his exploits for Camberley last season. In the nicest sense of the phrase, we thought we’d seen the last of him but sadly not. It lead to Chalfont’s Dean McDonnell tapping into an empty net.
All this happened shortly after Dan Fleming, seemingly presented with an open goal, was unfortunate that the ball bobbled and his effort went over the bar. Ex-Ashford’s Kofi Lockhart-Adams had also missed a good chance for the visitors.
Ashford though started to come into the match strongly and were good value for their equaliser just before half time, with Mark Bitmead having been very unlucky to have hit the post from a free kick and Max Webb having seen a full blooded drive well saved. The equaliser looked as if were coming and it arrived just before half-time when Bitmead, fed by Fleming in a tight penalty area, re-acted first and prodded the ball home.
The break came at the wrong time for the Tangerines who started the second period poorly and found themselves conceding two more goals in three minutes to give the visitors a two goal cushion, the scorers being Tom Mendy and Lockhart-Adams, whom the Chalfont directors thought was their man of the match. It was undeserved possibly on the overall run of play but Chalfont showed exactly what Ashford can expect at this level, with mistakes clearly more likely to be punished than at Step 5.
Manager Ben Murray’s wrath was enough to spur anyone on and Ashford could not be faulted by the way they then did their utmost to retrieve the situation. Both Tommy Brunton and Jack Beadle came on to good effect and the reward came with ten minutes to go when Kam English sent in a fierce effort, aided by a deflection, which reduced the arrears to a single goal.
A vital decision had gone against Ashford when Bitmead seemed to be utterly clattered by the visiting keeper which on another day would have seen the fortunate custodian sent off but the referee saw it differently. The Tangerines kept up the pressure right to the end, and a visiting defender did eventually find himself dismissed. At the end though, Chalfont held out and maintained their record of three wins from three.
The supporters “Ashford Man of the Match” award went to Alex Fisher.
Although disappointed to lose, Ashford have now played three well established Southern League sides and have beaten two of them. With all the drawn matches on Saturday, it looks like being a competitive season and at this early stage it doesn’t look as if anyone is going to run away with it.
The next encounter is tomorrow evening, away to Hanwell Town. Given that we are both Middlesex clubs with less than 16 miles between us, it is surprising that we have never played each other in a league match before. There have been two cup matches, one in the Charity Cup Final back in May 2000 when a solitary Tony Nolan goal gave us victory and one in the Senior Cup a little more recently in December 2008 when three goals, two from Scott Harris and one from Adam Logie gave us a win by three goals to one.
That will mean little tomorrow, with Hanwell clearly a strong side and still unbeaten with two draws and a victory (3-0 at Kidlington) in their opening three matches. The address of the ground is Reynolds Field, Perivale Lane, Greenford UB6 8TL and whilst in mileage terms it is not too far away, it would be best to leave plenty of time. There is a large car park
For anyone interested, there is an Under-18 friendly this evening (Monday) at Short Lane when our new side under manager Mark Oliver, will play their equivalents from Chalfont St. Peter, kick-off 7.45 p.m., before starting their Ryman Youth League campaign.
On Saturday the senior side travel to Shortwood United, in Gloucester, fellow members of the Evostick League but in the South & West Division in the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup. More on that one later in the week.
Following the milestones achieved by Russell Canderon, Mark Bitmead and Tyler Tobin recently, there will be another one against Hanwell tomorrow when, if selected, Max Webb will make his 100th 1st Team competitive start for the club.