Ashford made the 60 mile trip into Bedfordshire on Tuesday evening to play Kempston Rovers but came away losing by two goals to nil. Although generally, the League schedules its fixtures well, a few midweek longer trips are part and parcel of this level of football but it can be problematic and Ashford’s squad was stretched to the limit on Tuesday, with key players unable to make it, including top scorer Mark Bitmead.
It was the first visit to Kempston whose facilities are excellent. They are also looking to get into the play-offs but in the first half, which was relatively even, the visitors stood up to the task even though the home side had a greater number of chances. Although always a little prone to the long ball behind, the back four were coping well with some lively forward play from the home side and Tyler Tobin in goal was superb all evening, with some excellent goalkeeping. On one occasion, three successive corners in quick succession led to some last ditch defending but the Tangerines stood firm at this point.
There were chances for Ashford, the two main ones falling to Dan Fleming, ploughing at times a lonely furrow up front and, on another day, he would have taken them. One effort was hit hard and true but it was straight at Kempston’s diminutive keeper and he was able to push it away, whilst the other came crashing back off the bar. There was no scoring at the break.
The second half was a different story. It was another match where the first goal looked as if it would be significant and within five minutes it was scored by Kempston. The ball was not properly cleared and an attack down their right flank led to a low cross and the ball was stabbed home by Ashley Fuller.
That really settled the match even though there was plenty of time left, as it became largely a matter of repelling boarders for Ashford with the home side intensifying their attacks. By hook or by crook, Ashford kept them out for a long time and had Theo Alexis been able to make more of an excellent but isolated opportunity it might have turned out differently but a defender got in a tackle at the last moment.
On 73 minutes the match was definitely settled when Kempston scored their second through Jake Newman. Ashford did not let their heads drop but with Fleming isolated up top until the last few minutes when Samad Kazi pushed up, they did not look like scoring and it was another defeat, even though it would have been difficult to criticise any one Ashford player as they gave their all against a very good side, whose distribution from the back was excellent. Young Keegan Stuart made his senior debut with just a few moments to go.
The game was played in a good spirit and neither side incurred a caution and the refereeing was good. The League Chairman was present as he had not yet seen Ashford this season and we had a very interesting talk with him before the match. We face Kempston at home in a few weeks when we will have a few more supporters. It is difficult for supporters to travel longer distances in midweek so well done to Dan Weight who was the only one who made it, (we think) apart from committee members.
We have another away match on Saturday when we travel to Thame United’s new ground to meet Aylesbury United, who ground share there. Although we have played Thame in the past, we have not played at their present stadium so it will be another new experience. There will be more details on here tomorrow.
In the meantime here are last Sunday’s junior results:
Michael U7s 6-5 Molesey
Andy U9s 3-2 Whitton
Matt U9s 3-1 Walton
Matt U10s 2-1 Sheen Lions
Graham U11s 6-1 Kingston Town
Kirk U11s 5-1 Kew Association
Joe U12s 1-1 Walton Casuals
Paul U13s 6-3 Woking
Craig U14s 6-1 Kew Park
Fin U14s 4-1 Kings Park
Ben U16s 1-1 Croygas
The Ladies carried on their merry way, with a 10-1 home victory over Crystal Palace Development on Sunday and now sit five points behind Godalming (their match against them the previous week was a cup-tie by the way, so apologies for assuming it was a league match) with three matches in hand.
The Ladies have been drawn at home against New London Lionesses in the semi finals of the Greater London Women's Football League Trophy. Elsewhere Battersea & Hammersmith will face Putney Vale away in the other semi final.
The semi-finals are scheduled to be played on Sunday 9th April and will be a single leg only going to penalties if the scoreline is a draw after 90 minutes.
The final is due to be played on 21st May 2017.