Ashford suffered a disappointing defeat at home to Potters Bar Town, on Saturday, losing at home by three goals to nil.

Every game in this League is very different and it is never easy to predict beforehand just how a particular match will go.  Ashford came into this game in reasonably good form whilst their opponents, although higher in the table, had not had that great a time recently.

Despite the eventual scoreline, the game was much of a stalemate with Ashford, despite their best efforts, struggling to break down a very competent and well organised defence.  Inevitably there were close things at both end but it remained scoreless at half-time and it certainly started to look as if the first team to score would probably go on to win.

So it proved.  Potters Bar got their noses in front just after the hour mark and it was controversial.  Rusell Canderton was the alleged guilty man although he was livid, claiming that his opponent had dived.  Once the inevitable fracas had died down, the resulting penalty kick was calmly despatched and the away side were on their way.

As the match went on two more incidents had a bearing on the match.  As Ashford attacked, a foul on his full-back by Mark Bitmead saw the visiting right back jump up and clearly retaliate with a considerable degree of violence.  It was a poor foul and Bitmead was rightly cautioned but the violence of the retaliation seemed a clear sending off to everyone bar Mr.Bandara who only issued a yellow card.  We get players sent off when they’re nowhere near the ball whilst this player got away with it  but nothing we can do.

The other major incident that could well have made all the difference from Ashford's point of view was a superb effort from Dan Fleming that beat the keeper and crashed back into play from the bar.  That would have levelled the scores had it gone in but very quickly the visitors broke and ended up by doubling the scoreline.

Ashford pushed more men forward as the game drew to its conclusion but as they did so, and as so often happens, Potters Bar broke away again and emphasised the three points with a third goal.  So not the greatest day in Ashford’s history.  Although it was obviously the same for both sides the pitch did not help Ashford on the day, being unusually bobbly and it could have clearly done with some water on it, such is the drainage which at times is a boon but it wasn’t on Saturday.  That said, Ashford managed a perfectly competent display on a worse surface at Barton the previous week.

We can only move on and on Tuesday evening we make the 60 mile trip to meet Kempston Rovers at the third time of asking.  The address of the ground is shown in the previous article and kick-off is at 7.45 p.m.  It is a longer trip, especially in midweek, but the lads will certainly appreciate your support if possible.

A round up of the junior games and the Ladies, etc., will appear tomorrow.

Following last week’s stirring draw at Barton Rovers, Ashford are back at Short Lane on Saturday when the visitors will be Potters Bar Town FC.  They have been enjoying a generally successful season although their form has slipped a little in recent weeks.  They will arrive in 9th place in the table with a nine point advantage over Ashford although the Tangerines have a match in hand.

Earlier in the season we lost 2-3 at Potters Bar when the match ended rather controversially, following two refereeing decisions that went against us near the end.  This will in fact be only the second visit that Potters Bar have made to our ground, the last one being in November 2013 when they went away with all three points in a 2-0 victory.

Kick-off as usual is at 3.00 p.m.

We have picked up more than sufficient points in recent weeks to ensure there are no relegation worries (for what it’s worth mathematically, we need six more points to be absolutely certain, or for Histon to drop just six more) and we will look to the remainder of the season to win as many matches as possible to get ourselves into the top half of the table.

On Tuesday we travel to meet Kempston Rovers for the first time this season.  The address of their ground is Hillgrounds Leisure, Hillgrounds Road, Kempston, Bedford, MK42 8SZ and it is a journey of 60 miles, leaving the M1 at Junction 13, and then the A421 to Kempston.  Kick-off is 7.45 p.m.

Thoughts will start to drift to next season, at the end of which big changes are planned by the FA with the formation of an extra division at both Steps 3 and 4, the latter being our current level.  The two extra divisions are likely to be Midlands based but it should, overall, mean less travelling and inevitably there will be changes.  We could even find ourselves back in the Ryman League.  It is likely that just one side will be relegated from each of the Step 4 divisions at the end of next season and there may be enhanced promotion opportunities.  Overall though each division at Step 4 will have just 20 sides.

It is now definite that next season will commence on Saturday 12 August and thanks to some nippy work by the manager we already have one pre-season game lined up, away on Saturday 5 August to South Park FC from the Ryman League Division One South.

Ashford Under-18’s have a home match this evening against Hayes & Yeading U18, which is always a difficult fixture.  Kick-off is 7.45 p.m. although there will be a cursory pitch inspection this afternoon.

Following Will Boye’s resignation as U18 manager, 1st Team supremo Ben Murray will be running the side for the final 8 matches this season, assisted by Conor Moody.

As a side note, we are missing our usual gateman this evening, so if there is anyone who could step in, please come forward (phone 07956 930719)

Also, just to re-confirm, the 1st Team re-arranged match at Kempston Rovers takes place next Tuesday, 14 March, whilst the 1st Team home game against Wingate & Finchley is scheduled for the following Tuesday, 21 March.

Ashford came within two minutes of beating 3rd placed Barton Rovers on Saturday, but a goal in the 88th minute from the home side left the match tied at one apiece.

On a heavy and unpredictable surface, meaning that quality football was always going to be at a premium, Ashford nevertheless had a determination about them from the start which possibly surprised their high flying opponents.

Ashford closed down well throughout, with Mark Bitmead and Dan Fleming setting the example from the front.  Neither keeper had been seriously troubled in the opening exchanges but the Tangerines went in front on 13 minutes, when Bitmead, receiving from Samad Kazi, advanced down the right and, under pressure, delivered a superb cross, met by Fleming who knocked it into the net in an instant before neither his closest marker nor the keeper could intercept or get a tackle in.

Ashford survived a penalty scare shortly before half-time when referee Hart quite rightly adjudged that Kazi had not handled deliberately, if atall, although Barton may have taken a different view.

The anticipated fight back from the home side did not really materialise after the break and the game remained generally even, with arguably, the visitors still looking the more likely to score.  Bitmead was unlucky not to double the lead when a fierce effort was goal bound but one of Barton’s giant defenders managed to head the ball over the bar possibly more through luck than judgement.  As the final minutes approached Ashford were generally looking comfortable, and had a huge penalty shout in the dying minutes when Fleming was bundled over quite blatantly it seemed, but Mr. Hart thought otherwise and waved play on.  Within seconds, a long clearance was flicked on and for the first time in the match Ashford found themselves caught out as Barton debutant Danny Watson got the final touch, despite Kazi’s best efforts to get it off the line.

Mark Bitmead was voted by Ashford supporters as their “Ashford Man of the Match” but just about anyone would have had a claim and it was a far better performance than the one the previous week when Ashford had just scraped home against Petersfield.  In particular, a dominant performance by central defenders Russell Canderton and Romario Jonas, now seemingly back to full match fitness, was notable.  The midfield competed for every ball and Ashford now look forward to their next home match against Potters Bar Town on Saturday.

There are no details yet but the Ladies came out on top yesterday in their top of the table clash against Godalming Town Ladies, winning by 2 goals to 1, giving themselves an excellent chance of winning their division for the second season in a row.

The junior results are to hand as follows:

Cass U8s 5-6 Whitton

Bill U7s 1-1 Epsom

Michael U7s 3-0 Kingston

Chris U8s 6-5 Walton & Hersham

Andy U9s 1-3 AFC Walcountians

Matt U9s 3-2 Carshalton

Ryan U9s 0-1 Kew Association

Matt U10s 2-5 Bedfont

Joe U12s 0-3 South Park

Larry U13s 2-3 Corinthian

John U13s 5-3 Kew Park

Paul U13s 4-2 Woking Cougars

Craig U14s 3-1 Stoneleigh

Fin U14s 4-2 Kings Park

Martin U15s 6-1 Mitcham Park

Ben U16s 5-3 Croygas

Conor U16s 0-0 Meadow Sports

We wish Will Boye well as he has decided to return to his previous club, Colliers Wood United, although he is still running the Ladies’ side.  Will played 52 times for the Tangerines, five as sub, scoring just the one goal, since joining us last season.

On the other side of the coin, giant Frenchman Dylan Duby has joined us.  He played only a cameo role on Saturday coming on in stoppage time, following International Clearance being granted two days earlier, but he looks a real find.

Ashford have been drawn at home to Wingate & Finchley in the quarter-final of the Middlesex Charity Cup, and the game has been fixed for Tuesday 21 March.

 

Finally, we would like to thank Barton for their excellent hospitality on Saturday which was greatly appreciated.

 

Ashford travel to 3rd placed Barton Rovers on Saturday in what will be a tough match.  Barton’s recent form shows a 1-1 draw at Bedford Town last Saturday, preceded by two home wins over Northwood (5-1) and Aylesbury (3-2),  Before that, they lost 2-3 at Beaconsfield SYCOB.  Back in October, Ashford managed to beat their opponents in a high scoring match, winning by six goals to three, ours coming from Mark Bitmead (2), Dan Fleming (2) and Kam English (2).

We first met Barton in the 2001-02 season in what was then Ryman League Division 2.  There have been eleven matches over the years between us, with both clubs winning five each and one draw.

The address of the ground is Luton Road, Barton Le Clay, Bedfordshire MK45 4LQ and it is a journey of around 42 miles from ground to ground using the M25 and the M1 (leave M1 at Junction 11), although there are various alternative roads that can be used.  Kick-off is at 3.00 p.m.

As usual most of our junior sides are in action on Sunday and here are the fixtures:

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

FC Hatton 10:30

Larry U14s v Corinthian Casuals 12:30

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

Conor U16s v Meadow Sports 10am

Ben U16s v Croygas 11:30

Ashford Town 5 – 5 Pitch 1

Cass U8s v Whitton Wanderers 10am

Chris U8s v Walton & Hersham 11am

Ashford Town 5 – 5 Pitch 2

Neil U8s v Spelthorne Sports 10am

Steve U8s v Twickenham Tigers 11am

Ashford Town 7 – 7 Pitch

Rhys U9s v Barnes Eagles 10am

Ryan U9s v Kew Association 11am

Matt U10s v Bedfont Eagles 12pm  

Ashford Town 9 – 9 Pitch

Joe U12s v South Park 10am

Ashford Town – Outfield

Gary 10:30am

Craig U14s v Stoneleigh 12:30

Ashford Town Stadium

Ladies v Godalming 2pm 

Away Games

Michael U7s v Kingston Town

Bill U8s v Epsom Athletic

Andy U9s v AFC Walcountians

Matt U9s v Carshalton

Graham U11s v Elm Grove

Kirk U11s v St Helier

Nelson U11s v Carshalton

John U13s v Kew Park Rangers

Paul U13s v Woking Cougars

Fin U14s v Kings Park

Martin U15s v Mitcham Park

Simon U16s v Lyne Lions

 

The Ladies have what might be called their “crunch” match on Sunday when they entertain Godalming Ladies at Short Lane , kick-off 2.00 p.m.  Godalming are top of the league five points ahead of Ashford but have played three matches more.

 

 

Ashford have been drawn at home to Wingate & Finchley in the 3rd Round (Quarter Final) of the Middlesex Charity Cup.  There is no date yet but Wingate & Finchley are in the Ryman League and they currently sit in 5th place in the Premier Division table.

We have not played them since October 2008, when we lost 2-4 at home in an FA Trophy replay, after drawing one apiece at their ground.  Our scorers in the replay were Scott Todd and John Palmer.  At Wingate, it was Byron Harrison who got our goal.