A six-goal thriller at Tonbridge Angels on Saturday in the FA Trophy enabled Ashford to come away with a 3-3 draw against their high flying Step 3 rivals, leaving the sides to resume battle at Short Lane in a replay on Tuesday evening, kick-off 7.45 p.m.  It was a bitter-sweet result for the Tangerines, who took a three goal lead early in the second half, only for Tonbridge to fight back hard to stay in the competition, achieving that with eight minutes, plus stoppage time, left on the clock.  Ashford would certainly have settled for a draw beforehand against a very good side but in the end it was inevitable that there was a tinge, but only a tinge, of disappointment that they had not been able to hold on for the win.  Over the 90 minutes though, the result was probably about right.

The afternoon did not get off to a great start, with a traffic accident on the M25 causing a major hold up, with the result that the kick-off was delayed by 25 minutes.  Our thanks go to Tonbridge for their forbearance but it does seem that someone up there doesn’t like us too much following the motorway closure on the way to Herne Bay in the FA Cup and the trials and tribulations of getting to Shortwood in an earlier round.  A home draw or two wouldn’t go amiss next season!

In front of a crowd of 381, Ashford did not seem to be affected by the delay and after early exchanges got their noses in front when the hard working Dan Fleming charged down a poor clearance to give his side the lead on 15 minutes.  There was a degree of quality about their play at this stage which possibly surprised their opponents, and although the visiting defence was kept busy with Kav Keadell in goal excelling again, it didn’t seem a major surprise when Ashford doubled the lead.  Again it arose from a mistake, that once again saw Fleming heavily involved.  He managed to secure possession on the left flank and a pin point cross enabled Mark Bitmead to dive forward and head into an empty net.

Ashford were less than impressed with some of the refereeing decisions and also had to re-adjust just before half-time when Joe Green at right back had to come off, feeling unwell.  Romario Jonas though was a more than adequate replacement.

Despite some close affairs, Ashford held on until half-time and just eight minutes into the second period, Kam English who had had a quiet match to that point burst forward into the penalty area with his accustomed pace and was brought down.  Bitmead made no mistake from the spot and Ashford were suddenly three up.

If they could then have held out for any length of time it may have been different but all credit to Tonbridge who were finally getting their game together and pulled one back within two minutes through Nick Wheeler.  Ashford were more than aware that they now had a fight on their hands, especially when the same player reduced the arrears further on just 68 minutes.

Although they still looked dangerous on the break, especially with Tonbridge throwing men forward, it was largely backs to the wall stuff now.  A possibly defining moment came when Max Webb was the victim of a late tackle by Tonbridge’s Jack Parter, who had already been cautioned and it looked a nailed on red card but referee Searle who had been very quick to caution others on both sides, backed away from the decision and administered no more than a talking to.  Webb, who had been immense for Ashford in midfield, and was rightly voted “Ashford man of the match” had to leave the field soon afterwards, and Tonbridge wisely substituted Parter.

Ashford continued to hold out but the pressure was ever-growing with Tonbridge hitting the woodwork on more than one occasion.  On 82 minutes though, it finally told as the experienced Nathan Elder equalised for his side and it could not be said to be undeserved.

Mr. Beale then decided that he needed to play a full six minutes of stoppage time but there were no further dramas and, as mentioned, the two sides will now replay on Tuesday evening at Short Lane, kick-off 7.45 p.m.

The view was expressed afterwards, not by anyone from the Tangerine camp it should be emphasised, that Ashford had blown their chance of a big upset and that Tonbridge would find matters more straightforward in the replay.  Time will tell!

 

 

Ashford’s reward for beating AFC Hornchurch in the Preliminary Round of the FA Trophy is another away tie, this time to Ryman Premier side Tonbridge Angels, this coming Saturday, kick-off 3.00 p.m.

The address of the ground is:  Longmead Stadium, Darenth Avenue, Tonbridge, Kent, TN10 3JF.  It is a journey of about 56 miles from ground to ground, around the South side of the M25 and the A21.  There is a large car park and the price of entry is likely to be £10 for adults, with concessions for olduns and younguns.  There are full details on the Tonbridge web site.  We are not running a supporters' coach as it is not a massive distance.

It would have been difficult to have drawn a much tougher tie on paper at this stage, with Tonbridge doing well and very much at the right end of the Ryman Premier table.  They currently sit in 6th position with matches in hand over all the clubs above them, although their recent form has not shown total success, with them losing 0-3 two Saturdays ago at home to Dartford in the FA Cup, and then more surprisingly 0-4 away to Wingate & Finchley in the League last Saturday.  They did, however, beat Sittingbourne on Tuesday evening in the Ryman League Cup, winning by the same score, 2-0, as our win over Petersfield Town.

Although everyone will be aware that we are meeting opponents of a different mettle Ben Murray should have a full-strength squad from which to select his team which can go into the game on the back of three impressive performances, with 11 goals, maximum points and progress in the Middlesex Senior Cup.  We did, of course, play Tonbridge in a number of seasons when we were in the Ryman Prem ourselves, not often with great success it must be said, but on the last occasion we met, we did manage to win by three goals to two, at Short Lane, in November 2009, our scorers on that occasion being Brian Haule, Byron Harrison (now playing for Barrow in the National League by the way) and Paul Johnson. 

Should the scores be level after 90 minutes, there is no extra time but there will be a replay at Short Lane on Tuesday evening.

In the meantime, the Under-18’s sustained another narrow loss 2-3 at Godalming on Wednesday evening against Aldershot Town U18 but they are hopefully improving all the time.  There is a wide range of junior fixtures on Sunday, plus the Ladies, as follows:

Ashford Sports Club - Club House 11-a-side Pitch

Paul U13s v Farnham Town 10am

 

Martin U15s v AFC Westend 11:30am

Ashford Sports Club – Short Lane 11-a-side Pitch

 

Ashford Town 5 – 5 Pitch 2

Chris U8s v Abbey Rangers 10am

Chris U8s v Staines Town 11am

 

Ashford Town 9 – 9 Pitch

Graham U11s v Kirk U11s 11am

 

Ashford Town – Outfield

Carl v Putney 10:30am

Larry U13s v Kingstonian Youth 12:30

 

Ashford Town Stadium

Ladies v Actonians Reserves 2pm

 

Away Games

Joe U12s v Farncombe Youth

John U13s v Elm Grove Colts

Craig U14s v Kew Park Rangers

Ben U16s v Ewell Saxons

Conor U16s v Meadow Sports

Simon U16s v Kew Park Rangers

A hard fought win at Petersfield Town on Tuesday evening by two goals to nil gave Ashford another three points, pushing the club up to 3rd place in the table.

Based on league positions, this result may have been anticipated but Petersfield belied their position and fought for everything right up to the final whistle and will surely climb the table once everything has settled down under their new manager.

On quite a heavy surface, Ashford made an excellent start and Mark Bitmead screwed an early effort inches wide of the far post from an acute angle but it was the home side who then dominated possession for a while, forcing four straight corners, none of which came to anything.

The match settled down into something of a slog and whilst Ashford probably shaded the first half possession, there wasn’t too much in it and neither keeper was over troubled.  Kam English generally playing wide on the left flank, had probably been Ashford’s main threat in that first 45, but it was Tommy Brunton’s vision that led to the opening goal for the Tangerines just short of the hour mark when he was able to sweep the ball out to the unmarked Mark Bitmead, wide right.  He advanced and sent in a very deliberate chipped cross that found Dan Fleming who duly headed home.  It was a fitting reward for Fleming who had worked hard all night for little reward up to that point.

Despite having made the breakthrough, Ashford found themselves unable to relax as Petersfield gave it a right go.  Despite their endeavours they found Ashford’s defence excelling, especially Joe Green at right back, and the closest they came to scoring was when Scott Weight headed off the line with Kav Keadell stranded on one occasion.

Referee Lee, who had an excellent match it must be said, denied the visitors two penalties.  The first came when Alex Fisher fell over a leg but it was deemed to be simulation and the recalcitrant Fisher, probably quite rightly, found himself in the notebook.  The second claim had more substance to it as Fleming advancing into the area went down under the keeper’s challenge and it was a question of whether or not there had been a foul or Fleming had simply fallen over the prostrate keeper.  It was a fair bet that had it been Saturday’s referee, who awarded three soft penalties on that occasion, in charge, it may well have been given but Mr. Lee ruled in the keeper’s favour.

The second and ultimately clinching goal arrived with 15 minutes left on the clock and it was a goal that deserved to win a match.  Green sent in a long high free kick from around the half-way line, which was headed out to Bitmead on the edge of the area (couldn’t see who get the header in) but the Ashford striker hit it on the volley with great velocity and it flew into the net.

Ashford manager Ben Murray manipulated his substitutes skilfully and despite coming under further pressure the Tangerines saw out the last 15 minutes without too many scares despite the home club’s best endeavours.

This was Ashford’s first ever match at any level against Petersfield who were excellent hosts and we wish them all the best as they try to escape from their present perilous position.  A big thank you also goes to the Ashford supporters who made the trip down the A3 last night.  The vote amongst them for the “Ashford man of the match” award was a close run matter but in the end, on the captain’s casting vote, it went to Samad Kazi rather than himself!  Well done Russ.

We now have a break from league fixtures as we travel to meet Tonbridge Angels on Saturday in the FA Trophy.  There will be a lot more on that one later in the week but good luck this evening to the Under-18’s who make the trip to Godalming Town FC, to play against Aldershot U-18 in the Ryman Youth League, under new manager Will Boye.

 

Another of the Club’s stalwarts, Football Secretary Geoff Knock is to be honoured by the award of a special medal and certificate from the Football Association to mark 50 years’ service to football.

It is just about the highest award that can be attained at our levels of football and the Club is delighted for Geoff who saw long service with Bedfont FC for many years, before joining Ashford where he has performed the Secretary role with great distinction.

The presentation will be made on Saturday 12 November at our home match against Aylesbury, and will be made by John and Jim Taylor, senior members of Middlesex County FA, on behalf of the Football Association.

Geoff becomes the third current member of the Club to receive this award after Bob Parker and Alan Constable, along with Pat Munns who has a 25 year award.

Here's a little bit on a brilliant weekend for two of Ashford’s youngest sides.

Ashford Town (Middlesex) U6s
The boys went to Chelsea’s new state of the art dome to play in the Chelsea fun football festival.

Ashford played 8 games scoring plenty of goals and expressing themselves with skills and team work. Indeed the U6s had an amazing day with great memories and some fantastic photos.  This U6 team play the Ashford way and are developing nicely under Luri and Sean.  They will be an extremely strong side next season.
Squad- Gino, James, Mikey, Alex, Zach and Taylon 

A big thank you to Sean for his support and inviting Ashford to attend a great day.

Ashford Town (Middlesex) U8s

The Under-8’s went to play AFC Wimbledon academy on a cold Saturday morning at the Wimbledon centre of excellence.

Ashford played 6 a side with a strong squad Alfie, Nick, Dex, Haz, Max, Georgie and Matt.  After 4 x 20 min games Ashford showed some great ball manipulation and some fantastic passing. The boys had targets and all reached them with Ashford ending up getting their rewards, scoring 5 goals in the first game and 3 in the next but only conceding 3 all day.

MOTM- Alfie and a special mention to George Morgan, trying his best and working hard for the squad

Report from Bill Shires, ATFC Juniors

We are always very happy to print short reports from any of our junior managers on our official website

A busy period sees Ashford making the 50 mile plus journey down the A3 to play Petersfield Town in another Central Division match on Tuesday evening, kick-off 7.45 p.m.  The address of the ground is Love Lane, Petersfield, Hampshire, PO16 8BX and for anyone travelling by train, it is just over half a mile from Petersfield station.

We have never met Petersfield at any level before in our history.  They spent a number of seasons in the Wessex League before two enthralling seasons in 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 saw them firstly win Division One of the Wessex League and then the Premier Division the following season, enabling them to be promoted to the Southern League.  In their first season at Step 4 they more than held their own, finishing in 14th place but have found the going tougher so far this campaign, currently sitting in 21st position.  However, many of their results have been close and last week they appointed a new manager so we know to expect a side determined to get themselves out of trouble.

For our own part, seven days is a long time in football and the competent win last Tuesday in the Middlesex Senior Cup, topped on Saturday with the amazing 6-3 win over 4th placed Barton Rovers should see us in confident mode.  There were no injuries sustained over the weekend as far as the writer is aware and Ben Murray’s main problem will doubtless be to select his squad, with so many good players on the touchline at the moment.  Should be a good game all round with any luck.

The Under-18’s are also in action this week under new manager Will Boye when they play away to Aldershot Town, but at Godalming Town FC, on Wednesday evening, kick-off 7.45 p.m. in the Ryman Youth League.

Morning all,
 
This Friday evening is our clubs Halloween Party - starting at 7pm and finishing late.

Everyone is welcome, players/parents/Family members.

Like last year we will be given prizes for the best/creative costumes, the categories are:

- Best Junior Halloween costume

- Best Junior Manager/Coaches costume

- Best Senior committee member/staff costume 

- Best Ladies player costume 

- Best pumpkin carving  

We will be running bar deals including cocktails and shots - please make sure you tell everyone involved within your team, with these events its normally the same teams/managers that make the effort, lets all try to get down and have a decent night.  

The party will start at 7PM and finish late.  

Thanks  

Nick. 

 

When a crisp header from Barton’s unmarked Elliott Bailey put his side one up with barely four minutes on the clock, not too many people would have anticipated what was to come.  Indeed against a side on the top of their form with four successive league victories under their belt, one wondered if a second league defeat following the debacle at AFC Dunstable the previous week was on the cards.

Fortunately, Ashford were able to equalise very quickly, thanks to the reliable Mark Bitmead and suddenly started to play some of their best football all season.  The Tangerines went in front soon afterwards from the penalty spot when a visiting defender was penalised for hand ball.  One member of the Barton bench disputed the decision at length, using some very regrettable language, especially given that it was our junior day and we had any number of junior players present with their parents but Bitmead calmly waited for the furore to die down and planted his penalty home with ease.  The writer’s view as the offence happened was that it was a soft award quite frankly, the referee’s explanation afterwards being that the player had his hands up and thus in an unnatural position.

There was no stopping the Tangerines now though and it quickly became three as Ashford played some excellent stuff.  Bitmead turned provider this time for Dan Fleming who found a quality finish to make the score 3-1.  It is fair to say though that Barton were certainly not out of it and it was just as well that Kav Keadell in the Ashford goal was having surely his best ever game in an Ashford shirt, one save almost resembling the Gordon Banks stop in the World Cup many moons ago.

Despite that though Ashford  could easily have scored three more goals before they did actually strike again.  Twice Fleming might have made it count seemingly right through but couldn’t quite strike it right, whilst Bitmead through on goal again saw the visiting keeper pull off a save of his own that deserved the applause it got.  A fourth goal did arrive though just on the stroke of half-time though with Kam English getting in on things. The speedy flank player picked the ball up wide left and let go a dipping effort that gave Aaron Fulton, in goal for Barton, no chance as it sailed over his head.

Overall it was a great half by Ashford but it is testament to the threat posed by the visitors that nobody felt certain of victory despite the 4-1 lead, or even when Fleming hit arguably the goal of the game eight minutes after the re-start.  A superb ball from the bustling Max Webb to left back Alex Fisher saw him marauding down the left wing before pulling the ball back for Fleming to swivel and crash home.

One hoped that Barton might accept their fate at this point but they did not and enjoyed their best period of the match.  Ashford looked solid at the back though, with skipper Russ Canderton and indeed all the back four looking at their best but referee Sandoe then rather blotted his copy book in Ashford eyes by awarding the visitors a soft penalty of their own, apparently for handball by Canderton, which pegged the scoreline back to 5-2 in Ashford’s favour.

Blow us all down he then did it again when what looked a superb tackle by Samad Kazi was also punished by a penalty award.  Bailey scored both spot kicks for his side and thus completed his hatrick and Ashford for all their excellent play found themselves just two goals in front with the best part of 15 minutes to play, including stoppage time, and there was six minutes of that.

There were no more real scares though and deep in stoppage time English restored the three goal cushion with an individual goal as he weaved his way through to make the final score 6-3 to the Tangerines, who now sit nicely in 6th place with the two sides above them only in front by a narrow goal difference total.

There was a sense of satisfaction at the end of the game, not simply because we had scored six goals but also because they had come against one of the best sides we have faced all season and it was a good way to bounce back.  Who knows what AC Dunstable may have made of it after last week when by all accounts we could have conceded ten.

The day also marked the latest of our successful Junior days, thus swelling the overall attendance to 273, along with the official launch of Ashford’s book, written by Gareth Coates, on the history of the club.  Gareth was present, along with Graham Atkin, special guest for the day, who holds the record, set in the 1965-66 season for scoring eight goals in a single match, a record that has never been broken, although the writer recalls a six goal haul by Richard McDonald a few years back.  A special certificate was presented to Graham at half-time by our other main guest Jim Taylor, President of Middlesex FA, always welcome at Short Lane.  It was also good to see another of Ashford’s prolific scorers from the past in the shape of Andy Smith whose exploits will also never be forgotten.  

We go on now to a midweek trip down the A3 to Petersfield Town on Tuesday evening.  They have not done so well this season but now have a new manager and we expect a very tough match as indeed they all are in this Division.  There will be more on this one on the web site tomorrow.

To complete an excellent weekend, the Ladies won by eight goals to nil in the John Greenwood Memorial Trophy against Division Two (North) side Actonians Reserves, scorers being Ashley Cheatley (3), H Isaacs (2), L Neufville (2) and C Benham.  The girls will be facing the same opposition next Sunday in the Greater London Women’s League Cup, again at Short Lane.

As well as receiving visitors Barton Rovers, it is a “big” day for the Club on Saturday as Gareth Coates, these days the Club’s Company Secretary, will be down from Liverpool to launch his book upon the history of Ashford Town, entitled “From Albion to Zazzera”, Jason Zazzera having the distinction of being the last player in alphabetical terms to have represented the club over the years.  It is a good read, covering every single season of Ashford’s existence and Gareth will have copies for anyone wishing to buy one on the day.  Other guests include Graham Atkin, who in 1966 achieved the record for scoring the most goals for Ashford in a single match, when he hit eight in one game.  This record has never been broken.

Also present will be Jim Taylor, the President of Middlesex County FA, always a welcome visitor, and Andy Smith, another renowned goal scorer for the club in his day.

On top of all that, the match has been designated as one of our successful “Junior Days” with all junior players invited to attend with their parents, etc, and all those in their kit will receive a free hot dog or burger, courtesy of the generosity of Vice-Chairman Nick Bailey.

Amidst all that, Ashford will be facing a very tough match with Barton arriving in 4th place in the table.  Although they lost to our FA Cup conquerors, Herne Bay, in the FA Trophy, they have won their last four league games in a row, including a 6-3 victory at Royston Town. 

Our two clubs have met on ten previous occasions, all league matches, with Barton slightly ahead with five wins to our four, with one draw.  The first ever season we met was in the 2001-2002 season, in Division 2 of the Ryman League, but all the others have been in the Southern League.

There is more football at Short Lane on Sunday, when Ashford Ladies take on Actonians Reserves in the JGMT Trophy, kick-off 2.00 p.m.  Ashford remain top of their division and congratulations go to Ashley Cheatley and Lavana Neufville, who were both selected in the Middlesex County squad for their match against the Army on 19 October.  The Ladies remain unbeaten all season and manager Will Boye has now taken over the Men’s Under-18 side playing in the Ryman Youth League.  There are some talented players in the squad but they have yet to eradicate the bad habit of conceding last minutes goals which cost them yet again last week when they lost narrowly to Hendon U18.  The next match is away to Aldershot Town U18, to be played at Godalming Town next Wednesday evening.

Finally we have all the junior matches for Sunday, as follows:

Ashford Sports Club - Club House 11-a-side Pitch

Fin U14s v Carshalton 10am

Martin U15s v Ewell Saxons 11:30

Ashford Sports Club – Short Lane 11-a-side Pitch

Conor U16s v Leatherhead 10am

Simon U16s v Hanworth Sports 11:30

Ashford Town 7 – 7 Pitch

Ryan U9s v Spelthorne 11am  

Ashford Town 9 – 9 Pitch

Joe U12s v Doverhouse 10:30am

Graham U11s v Nelson U11s 11:30am 

Ashford Town – Outfield

Gary Men v Bamyan FC 10:30am

Ben U16s v Dorking Wanderers 12:30pm

Larry U13s v Surrey Predators 2pm

Ashford Town– Stadium

Ladies v Actonians Reserves 2pm

Away Games

Bill U8s v AFC Wimbledon 

John U13s v Hampton Youth

Paul U13s v Leatherhead

Craig U14s v Kew Park Rangers

Following Sunday’s limp performance at AFC Dunstable, Tuesday evening’s match at home to North Greenford United in the 1st Round of the Middlesex Senior Cup assumed a rather greater importance than it might have done.  North Greenford play at one level below the Tangerines but they had recently been enthused by the appointment of a new manager and arrived at Short Lane with an 8-0 home victory over Chertsey and a 2-1 win over title challengers Epsom & Ewell under their belts in the previous seven days.

Manager Ben Murray made five changes, including a first start for Hakim Hammami after a number of sub appearances and the side had a determined look about it from the start.  The visitors were not overawed though and looked lively themselves in the opening stages.   There was almost a real set back for Ashford when Kav Keadell’s misplaced clearance nearly gave a goal away but the attacker with almost an empty net to aim at, failed to steady himself and shot wide.

After that initial flurry Ashford started to assert themselves and it was Hammami who put them ahead on 21 minutes.  A mistake at the back for the visitors had allowed the marauding Mark Bitmead, who once had a short spell at North Greenford, to advance and a fine effort came back off the foot of the post.  It rebounded though to Hammami who show how it should be done as he coolly sent his low effort into the net to open the scoring.

Soon afterwards, the visitors had to change their keeper who couldn’t carry on after coming down heavily as he claimed a high ball with nobody in close proximity.  The immediate prognosis was that he had suffered ligament damage and we send him our best wishes.

Despite this setback, the visitors did not crumble and with no further scoring before half-time, Ashford had to work hard for the second goal which arrived on 54 minutes.  Alex Fisher, skipper for the evening, with Russ Canderton on the bench, seemed to catch the visiting defence out with a long ball and Bitmead doubled the lead with a deft finish.

After the second goal Ashford assumed a greater control and, despite one effort which had to be cleared from the line, the result seemed reasonably assured.  It proved difficult to extend the lead though with North Greenford attempting to push up and play offside at every opportunity.  One or two of the decisions subsequently given in their favour looked distinctly marginal and Bitmead in articular was unlucky to see another effort ruled out but Ashford, now playing within themselves, made it three at the death when sub Kam English embarked upon one of those runs that have become his trademark and finished with aplomb.  With the visitors now showing signs of fatigue, Samad Kazi almost made it four with a run that saw him go past three defenders as if they weren’t there only to put his final effort just over the bar.

On an evening that saw no cautions for either side, thanks possibly to the genial and sensible Mr. Andrews in the middle, it was a good game for Ashford to recover their form as they look forward to the visit of Barton Rovers on Saturday.  It was mighty close but Tommy Brunton received the Ashford “Man of the Match” award after an assured performance in midfield

The 2nd Round brings a home game against another CCL side in the shape of CB Hounslow, who are doing well in their first season at Step 5, and will also probably see the return of more than one ex-Ashford player, in the shape of both Gavin and Stuart Bamford, along with Nick Hardy, Harry Driver and one or two others.  This match is scheduled for Tuesday 8 November.