In the end the points were shared but visitors Hartley Wintney needed an equaliser in the 4th minute of stoppage time to deny Ashford a further three points.

Once again the elements were against good football, with a swirling wind and intermittent rainy squalls but there was a determination about both sides, as would be expected, making for an absorbing match watched by no less than 272 spectators, the fourth time this season that more than 200 people have watched an Ashford home match.  The attendance was better than many in the Ryman Premier League, including the attendances at Grays Athletic, Hendon, Leatherhead as well as our neighbours Staines Town and better than all but two in the Central Division of the Southern League.

It was the visitors who took the eye in the opening period, taking advantage of the elements, broadly in their favour, and pinning Ashford back.  As the match went on though, it became more even and it was the Tangerines who made the breakthrough shortly before half-time.  An over hit cprner was latched on to by Jack Beadle, later voted by supporters as “Ashford Man of the Match”, who turned sharply and hit a low drive underneath the keeper.

There was no further scoring before half-time although Ashford had a let-off immediately before the break when the visitors hit the inside of the post only for the ball to rebound to safety as the referee blew his whistle.

In the second half, whilst it was never easy, Ashford rarely looked as if they would lose the lead, especially with Hartley tending to play the long ball much of the time, although Tyler Tobin, excellent again in goal for Ashford, made one incredible save to turn the ball aside.  The better chances though fell to the Tangerines. Both Dan Fleming and Mark Bitmead had decent efforts well saved as Ashford’s main striking duo caused plenty of problems.

As the match drew to a close, Ashford should have made the match absolutely safe in the 86th minute as a superb movement involving several players but started by Josh Andrew, saw the same player in on goal when a simple tap in would have doubled the lead.  Unfortunately, and off balance, Josh was only able to put the ball the wrong side of the post.  It was a shame in many ways as not only would it have secured three points, it would have been the best goal at Short Lane this season.

It was not to be though and Hartley Wintney showed why they are champions elect when they equalised in the fourth minute of stoppage time.  A look at the excellent video available on the CCL forum shows that it was a better goal than anyone realised from the other end, as substitute Ross Cook latched on to a loose ball and cleverly evaded the onrushing Tobin and headed into an empty net.

It was a moment of disappointment for the Tangerines and Hartley Wintney will now have to slip up badly for them to concede the championship.  To be frank that would still have been the case even had Ashford secured all three points.   

However, it may or may not be true and we are not in the know, but with several of their folks saying quite openly yesterday that they will not be able to go up, the race for promotion may be a different matter.  Having secured four points from the last two very difficult matches, and conceding only one goal, Ashford will push on with confidence and look likely to battle it out with Camberley, although Epsom & Ewell cannot be discounted, despite their unexpected home defeat against Westfield on Friday. 

Indeed there are still plenty of points to be played for, starting with an away trip to Chertsey Town on Monday morning (kick-off 12.30 p.m.).  Chertsey have pulled away from the relegation zone in recent weeks with some good results, so it will not be easy, that is for certain, despite the Curfews losing by two goals to nil at Hanworth Villa on Saturday.

We must not lose sight of the achievements of our Ladies’ side this season and we now have details of their County Final.  They will play at Wealdstone FC on Sunday 17 April against University College Ladies, kicking off at 11.00 a.m.  Hopefully we can get plenty of support for them at the match.

Forthcoming Events

02 Jun 2018
11:00AM -
Junior Presentation Day and Evening
09 Jun 2018
09:00AM - 09:00PM
Junior Tournament