Ashford return to Short Lane on Saturday and welcome Colliers Wood United for their first ever visit for a league match.  The game kicks off at 3.00 p.m. as usual.

Our visitors sit in 12th place in the table with 10 wins and 12 defeats from their 24 league matches to date.  They will possibly remember this season though more for their cup exploits as they were the last CCL club to remain in the FA Vase, going right through to the 4th Round, where a fortnight ago they lost 2-4 after extra time to Ascot United, after having keeper Lee Pearce sent off in controversial fashion for allegedly handling outside his area, which he denied.  It must have been disappointing to have gone out of the competition in that way but they certainly did the League proud.  Sadly it also means that we won’t see Lee, who played a few matches for Ashford a few seasons ago, in action today, as he will be serving a one match suspension.

Colliers Wood are also still in the Surrey Senior Cup and like ourselves have a home 4th Round tie.  On paper they face a very tough tie against Merstham if they are to reach the semi-final but cup matches often bring out the best in clubs and we could yet have an all-CCL Final which would be unprecedented.

Our own 4th Round match will see us entertaining Westfield, now fixed for Tuesday 17 February, and an opportunity for revenge following the recent league defeat.

Our league form has continued to be patchy although last week’s match in terms of possession etc. hardly merited a 0-3 defeat, individual errors costing us badly.  That’s gone now and we need to put recent results behind us and play as we did earlier in the season.  Windsor and Cove, like ourselves, have suffered from inconsistency recently but both Molesey and Camberley are going great guns so they are the ones to beat.  There is still almost half the season to go in terms of matches played and there is plenty of water to go under the bridge this campaign.

The Football Association has concluded its inspection of our ground today and whilst we are more or less cleared for promotion were that to happen, we will retain our C grade if we carry out the following:  complete the fence repairs (this is also needed for next season), set up a separate 1st Aid Room and put in two extra press seats.  We are relying upon our own ground force to get the fences (all paid for) in and up by 31 March, the deadline date, whilst the other two items are relatively straightforward.  Although we are not looking to end our current groundshare arrangements with Lammas, were they to move out and we were looking for alternative tenants, it would mean that any club from Step 3 (Ryman or Southern Prem) would be able to play here if we have a C grade.

One problem we have suffered from in recent weeks has been the absence of our two main strikers, Dan Fleming and Mark Bitmead.  When you take a total of 42 goals out of the team at a stroke, you are bound to suffer but tomorrow both are fully back, and will hopefully be looking to assuage their frustrations.  We also welcome Sam Baffour, who most recently played for Chelmsford City before sustaining an injury that has kept him out all season.  Having been released he is now raring to go, and a cameo appearance last Saturday suggested he may well become a supporters’ favourite very quickly given his obvious pace and ability to go past defenders.

Colliers Wood have some pacey players themselves not least their top scorer over several seasons, Mario Embalo and we may also be able to welcome back to Short Lane Quaseem Sotonla (spelling might not be correct) who played a number of matches for us last season and is another excellent player.  All in all it should be a great game and don’t forget that the Chelsea v Manchester City clash will be on in the club after the match when everyone is most welcome to stay on and watch it.

Finally, a last reminder that Ben Murray is putting on a Race Night this evening (Friday) as from 7.30 pm.  Come along and have a flutter but please ensure that when you leave the club you do so quietly.