Ashford bounced back to form on Saturday beating promotion chasing Kempston Rovers, who had been on a long unbeaten run, by 3 goals to 1 at Short Lane.
Ashford were expecting a tough match and with the visitors starting strongly, it looked as if it would materialise exactly as envisaged, especially as they almost scored in their very first attack when Jake Newman hit the post. That set the tone for the opening 20 minutes, with Kempston having more of it. Ashford were gradually getting into the match though and on 23 minutes took the lead following a well worked move which culminated with a superb through ball from Tommy Brunton to Mark Bitmead who lobbed the keeper with some precision.
The goal seemed to change the direction of the match as Ashford generally remained on top from then until the last 15 minutes. That is not to say Kempston were out of it by any means at this stage and Tyler Tobin in goal had to be at his most alert soon after the goal. Dan Fleming twice went close at the other end but the lead was eventually doubled on 54 minutes when Bailey Mummery took advantage of a poor clearance, picking up the ball and finding Jack Beadle who moved forward in his usual industrious manner before sending in a cross for Bitmead who made no mistake.
It was by no means over but Kempston’s attacks seemed to lack a little belief and Ashford coped fairly well with everything thrown at them and then effectively sealed the result on 75 minutes when Fleming was put through by the hard working Beadle and poked the ball past the keeper as he came out.
It could have been four soon afterwards when Fleming seemed to be blatantly pushed just inside the area but the referee waved play on. We then had a fairly curious incident as an assistant put his flag up as Kempston attacked and everyone stopped only for realisation to dawn that the referee had not blown his whistle. Somehow Ashford scrambled it away but there were repercussions as Kempston claimed that the player in the offside position was not involved in the play. This led to a member of the visiting bench being removed, after the referee decided it should be a free kick to Ashford after all, although it was not clear from the other end whether it was for the offside or another offence.
As the moments ticked away, a rare clean sheet looked on the cards but Kempston had the last word as, under pressure, skipper Russ Canderton conceded an own goal. This was on 86 minutes and as the referee played a full ten minutes stoppage time, which even allowing for some time wasting, was a bit over the top, there were a few uncomfortable moments before the final whistle went and Ashford could reflect upon another three points, this time against one of the best sides in the Division who had beaten the Tangerines comfortably at their own ground just a few weeks previously.
Being Easter, it’s a double bubble next week, with Ashford travelling to Aylesbury next Saturday and then entertaining Farnborough on Easter Monday, both matches kicking off at 3.00 p.m.
The Middlesex Charity Cup semi-final at home to Hampton & Richmond Borough has been arranged for Tuesday 25 April
No details are available yet but we understand that the Ladies came though their latest semi-final against New London Lionesses winning 4-2 on penalties for a second cup final.