Ashford maintained their winning run and brought the season to a successful conclusion on Monday evening in the Final of the Middlesex Charity Cup, played at Hanwell Town FC, beating a full strength Wealdstone 2-1.

Ben Murray stuck to the same squad that had beaten Hampton & Richmond just six days earlier in the semi-final and in front of 332 spectators, Ashford could not have  enjoyed a better start, earning a penalty just 11 seconds into the match, when Dan Fleming was clearly pulled back.  Alex Fisher was on penalty duties and coolly finished for Ashford’s quickest goal of the season.  It could have been two just minutes later as Dan Fleming hit a fierce drive which went just over.

Overall, Ashford looked well up for the contest and possibly caught their opponents, who were maybe anticipating an easier ride,  on the hop by their overall application and it was not really a surprise when Dan Fleming, having a super game, latched on to a through ball and gave the keeper no chance, as he doubled the lead.

Wealdstone were rattled without a doubt but fought back, as was inevitable, and almost reduced the arrears when a fierce free kick rattled the bar.  Generally though, Ashford were defending stoutly and Tyler Tobin in goal was a competent keeper behind the back four.  Max Webb, a driving force for much of the time, picked up a knock and had to be replaced at half-time by Scott Weight, who added all his experience after the resumption.

The second half took on a different complexion though as Wealdstone pulled a goal back on 54 minutes when former Ashford favourite Ricky Wellard found himself unmarked at the far post as he converted a low cross.

The goal led to a sustained, long period of pressure as Wealdstone sensed blood and went all out for an equaliser.  There were many close things, including a disallowed goal, and a miraculous goal line clearance from skipper Russ Canderton, playing his 642nd competitive match for the Tangerines.  Ashford were largely restricted to breakaways but in one, an excellent ball from Jack Beadle gave Mark Bitmead the opportunity to make it safe but he couldn’t quite convert.

In the main though it was backs to the wall stuff and the whole team deserves great credit as they kept Wealdstone out with incredible determination, despite the allotted six minutes of stoppage time which was nearer to eight, but in the end Ashford held out to win the trophy for the third time in their history and end the season on a high, which promises much for next season, which begins in earnest on Saturday 12 August.  Details of pre-season matches will be published in due course.

The County named Dan Fleming as the “Man of the Match” which was well deserved after arguably one of his best ever performances for the club, especially in the first half.

Ashford would like to thank the County for their hard work in facilitating the Final, and indeed, Hanwell Town for their excellent hospitality.

That’s not it for cup finals, as the Ladies still have two to look forward to, the first being this coming Sunday in the Capital Women’s Cup against Whyteleafe Ladies, which is being played at Bedfont Sports, kick-off 2.00 p.m. which, coupled with the Charity match at Ashford in the morning, makes it an ideal double for the day.  It will also be an excellent opportunity to view Bedfont’s new 3G pitch which looks superb.