Corinthian-Casuals beat Hythe Town 3-1 in their FA Cup replay yesterday evening, so it is the Tolworth side who will be visiting Short Lane in the 1st Qualifying Round of the FA Cup on Saturday 2 September, kick-off 3.00 p.m. in what will be our first fixture against them since January 2004.

Ashford have been drawn at home to either Hythe Town or Corinthian-Casuals in the 1st Qualifying Round of the FA Cup to be played on Saturday 2 September 2017, kick-off 3.00 p.m.

They drew one apiece on Saturday and are due to replay on Tuesday evening at Hythe.  Both clubs are members of the Bostick (Isthmian) League, South Division and thus play at the same level as ourselves.

Ashford beat Spartan South Midlands club Wembley on Saturday in the Preliminary Round of the Emirates FA Cup by three goals to nil, and now await Monday's draw for the 1st Qualifying Round, to be released around lunchtime..

Wembley had beaten Windsor in the previous round with some ease but they were very much on the back foot at the start of the match, and Ashford, full of confidence, took the lead on 11 minutes.  It rather came into the “scruffy” category as the ball bounced around in the Wembley goal area and the keeper migt have done better but there was no clearance and eventually Scott Weight got the final touch for his first goal of the season.

The visitors were possibly fortunate to still have eleven men on the field as Ashford had shown their intentions as early as the first minute when Dan Fleming broke clear, only to be thwarted by what seemed a fairly obvious pull back, when he was in on goal.  Referee Mays though either didn’t see it or took a different view to most others of a tangerine persuasion and gave nothing.

That early incident may have been the starting point for something of a feisty match, with several stoppages.  The visitors came into the match though and certainly impressed at times, especially down the left flank, but they lacked any killer instinct on the day and although there was no further scoring before the break, Ashford doubled the lead eight minutes into the second half, when Fleming pinched the ball from a poor clearance and set up James Cottee whose impressive angled shot found the net.

Wembley were not done at this point and on another day might have had better reward but the nearest they came was an effort comfortably headed away from the line on one occasion.  Tyler Tobin also had to make a few dashes from goal but Ashford made the match safe on 85 minutes when Cottee, proving an excellent signing, found himself in the clear as Wembley argued too much about a free kick whilst Ashford actually took it.  He carefully steered the ball into the net for his second goal and was virtually a unanimous choice afterwards  for  the “Hitchcock & King Ashford player of the match” voted by supporters.

After a hectic week, Ashford now have a rest until next Saturday when they get another longish trip out of the way with a trip to AFC Dunstable, whilst on Bank Holiday Monday, neighbours Egham Town are the visitors to Short Lane when kick-off will be at the normal 3.00 p.m.  There will be more on these matches later but the Under-18’s get their season underway on Wednesday evening, with a Ryman Youth League match away to Hampton & Richmond Borough, kick-off 7.45 p.m.

British Airways have their first home match of the season this week also, when they play against Lampton Park FC, in the Premier Division of the Middlesex County League on Wednesday,  kick-off 7.45 at Short Lane.

Ashford Ladies have been accepted into the Women’s FA Cup for the first time and have been drawn away to Headington Ladies, from Oxford, on 2 September 2017, in the 1st Qualifying Round.  The winners will be away to either Benson Lionesses or Wargrave Ladies in the 2nd Qualifying Round.

276 clubs – up from 254 last season – have been accepted into this year's competition, including a number of new entrants.

The first round qualifying sees 174 teams from top divisions of county and regional women's leagues go head-to-head to reach the second round qualifying, where they'll be joined by 11 more sides who've been given a bye.

The 47 clubs from the four regional leagues of The FA Women's Premier League Division 1 will enter at the third round qualifying, before the 24 teams in the Northern Division and Southern Division join in the second round proper.

The 20 sides taking part in this season's FA Women's Super League, including holders Manchester City, will enter the competition in the fourth round proper.

 

Ashford’s ground breaking friendly against a side from Tianjin in China went ahead on Thursday evening and it proved to be an exceptionally enjoyable experience.  Although Ben Murray only fielded 3 players from the 1st Team squad, the team he put out was too strong for the visitors who played some intricate football at times but struggled defensively, eventually leading to a win for the Tangerines by 10 goals to 2.

The result though was largely immaterial:  it was the event that mattered and the visitors seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves, especially after the match when both Chinese and English food was laid on for them and they all enjoyed a pint of English beer, with more than one of them coming back for a second.  Great thanks go to sports travel agent Jack Cheng, fluid in both English and Chinese for arranging things in the first place.  There is every chance that he may arrange a similar visit next year, possibly with a view to playing at least two matches against other clubs local to Ashford.

For the record, Ashford’s goals were scored as follows:  Elliott Poley, Jabir Laraba x 4, Max Webb, Nathan Pooley, Joe Brazil, Cameron Richardson, Matt Surmon.  Seven came in the 1st half.  Scorers for Tianjin, for the record were:  Ma Wei, with arguably the best goal on the night as he ran past three defenders before crashing home, and Han Lei, from the penalty spot.

Jabir Laraba emphasised his credentials for a 1st Team spot with four goals, whilst Max Webb only scored one but an absolute thunderbolt.  Yaya El-Kabouche also played after his two match suspension and Will Boye also returned, having just signed for Ashford again.  Rumanian triallist Alex Petrescu also played as did Charlie Cahill, whose International Clearance has now come through.

The second half saw large numbers of Ashford’s Under-18 Ryman squad introduced and all gave a good account of themselves.

It’s back to the serious stuff now and we look forward to the visit of Spartan South Midlands League Club, Wembley on Saturday in the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup, kick-off 3.00 p.m.  The match programmre for the game can be read by clicking here.

Under FA rules we have to charge everyone tomorrow, including season ticket holders.  If the scores are level on 90 minutes, there will not be extra time but a replay at Wembley on Tuesday evening.

Apart from the ongoing holiday absence of Russell Canderton, Ben Murray has no injury worries that the writer is aware of, so the team should be more or less at full strength for what will not be an easy match.  Wembley finished in 4th place in their Step 5 league last season, and beat Windsor in the previous round this season by 4 goals to one.  In the League, they have drawn one and lost one to date, both at home.

The draw for both the Middlesex and Surrey Senior Cups are in and we have been drawn away in both.

After not meeting Wembley since the year 2000 in a cup match, this season we will not only be playing against them in the FA Cup on Saturday, we have been drawn away to them in the 1st Round of the Middlesex Senior Cup.

In the Surrey Senior Cup, it’s another away draw with a game against Ryman League South Park to come.

It’s better luck for the Under-18’s in the Ryman Youth League Cup as we received a bye in the Preliminary Round and will be playing at home in the 1st Round against either Northwood or Camberley Town.

Last night’s match summary failed to mention in error that the Hitchcock and King “Ashford Player of the Match” as voted by supporters, was Jack Beadle, whilst last Saturday the recipient of the accolade was Tyler Tobin.

Next match for the Tangerines is tomorrow evening (Thursday) when we play Tianjin all the way from mainland China in a friendly, kick-off 7.45 p.m.  Entry is entirely free on the night for everyone.  Some of our visitors were at the ground this evening to watch the junior training etc.

 

Although a small amount of the gloss was taken off by two very late Arlesey goals, Ashford made it two wins from two this season as they defeated their Bedfordshire opponents by 3 goals to 2 on Tuesday evening, to make themselves one of five clubs to have won both their opening matches.

As anticipated and certainly hoped for, Ashford were fast out of the blocks after their win at Cambridge on Saturday (they won last night by the way) and it took just two minutes for the Tangerines to take the lead.   It was a simple but impressive goal as Jack Beadle lofted a long ball to Mark Bitmead cutting in from the right.  He advanced at pace and made light of putting the ball past the keeper, who didn’t seem to quite get his angles correct.

To be fair to the visitors, there was no panic as they continued to play but they rarely looked as if they would puncture Ashford’s rearguard at this point and Bitmead almost had a second but a fine save thwarted him.  Ashford kept pressing though and on 31 minutes doubled the lead.  This time it came from a free kick curled in by Alex Fisher.  The keeper could only punch the ball high in the air under pressure and it was James Cottee, rapidly becoming an Ashford favourite, up first to head into the roof of the net.

Just before half-time, Ashford more or less wrapped the game up with their third and possibly the most impressive goal.  A crisp left flank movement saw Bitmead send over a cross for Dan Fleming to meet on the half volley and smash it into the back of the net to give the keeper no chance.

Supporters settled back for the second half anticipating further goals but all credit to the visitors who put a fairly poor first half behind them as they dragged themselves back into the match.  Ashford still looked dangerous on the break as Bitmead showed when he was again thwarted by the visiting keeper.  Manager Ben Murray was reasonably happy with his defence as they coped fairly well as Arlesey had more and more of the ball and as the match entered its final moments, everyone seemed to have settled for a 3-0 victory.

In the 90th minute though, the visitors snatched what could surely only be a consolation, through Taylor Rhiney but when they scored again, this time a thunderbolt from Cade Stephens-Abbey, in the 3rd minute of stoppage time, alarm bells were suddenly ringing as the visitors could sniff a point or even better.

Fortunately for the Tangerines, referee Scott, remembered for his sending off of Mitchal Gough at Cove three years ago for an offence that nobody else had seen,not that we bear a grudge, had signalled just three minutes of stoppage time and blew his whistle bang on time to the relief of Ashford and the chagrin of the Arlesey supporters who thought there should have been more and they were probably right.  The referee’s word is final though and, on this occasion at least, we were happy to accept it.

That said, over the 90 minutes Ashford certainly deserved to win, playing some fluid football at times, and will be in good heart for their match at home to Wembley on Saturday in the FA Cup.  In between time we shall be fielding a side against a visiting Chinese side from Tianjin City in mainland China, kick-off 7.45 p.m. on Thursday. Entry is entirely free for everyone and with bar supremo Kate having been practicing her Chinese it will be worth that by itself to come along.  The Chinese party will also be at the ground this evening (Wednesday) as they have asked to watch one of the junior training sessions in their endeavour to see how clubs at our level organise such things.  Chinese speakers very welcome!

Ashford Ladies turned on the style on Sunday to record a 12-4 victory over Hampstead Ladies at The Robert Parker Stadium.

Ashley Cheatley put in a player of the match performance, scoring six goals. Cheatley recorded a hatrick on either side of half time. Lavana Neufville also scored a hatrick whilst Hannah Pearson, Vicky James and Holly Isaacs also notched in the route.

This result sees Ashford Ladies record their first victory this pre season after defeats to WPL opposition and a draw against Fulham Ladies.  It was a pleasing display by all of the new faces wearing Ashford colours with Charlotte Baker, Paige Smith, Maddie Bone and Sophie Burgess all impressing.  Hannah Pearson and Rebecca Fisher showed moments of brilliance today with both recording assists and Pearson getting her Ashford career off to good start with a goal.

Ashford Ladies are back in action on Wednesday to face WPL side Old Actonians in a 7:45pm kick-off at North Greenford United Football Club.

LINE UP: L Restel, B Sheehan, N Jacobs, C Baker, L Huse, H Pearson, R Fisher, S Phillips-Hines, L Neufville, H Isaacs, A Cheatley

SUBS: V James, M Bone, P Smith, S Burgess, L Richardson

Ashford will go into this evening’s home match against Arlesey Town FC full of beans following their win at Cambridge City at the weekend.  Kick-off at Short Lane is 7.45 p.m. and admission prices are unchanged from last season (£9 adults, £5 OAP’s and children under 16 free).

We have come up against our Bedfordshire rivals on nine previous occasions in both the Isthmian and Southern Leagues and honours are even with four wins apiece.  There was also one cup meeting, in the FA Cup in season 2008-09, when goals from Scott Harris (2), Byron Harrison and Ricky Wellard (penalty) saw us through in a 4-2 victory.  Our first meetings with our opponents in 2000-2001 saw us defeated both home and away but we managed to turn the tables last season with a fairly comfortable away win, 3-0 but a much tighter game at Short Lane when we scraped home by 2 goals to 1, with goals from Bailey Mummery and Tommy Brunton.

We have two more games at Short Lane this week, one on Thursday when we play a ground breaking friendly against Tianjin FC all the way from China.  Given that we are playing this evening and again on Saturday in the FA Cup, of necessity, we will be fielding a mixed side but entrance to the game is entirely free so please come along and enjoy this historic occasion.  Kick-off is 7.45 p.m.

We finish off the week on Saturday, playing at home to Wembley FC from the Spartan South Midlands League in the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup, Wembley having beaten Windsor 4-1 in the previous round.  Although they play one level lower than ourselves, rest assured they will be difficult opponents in what is a very important match for both sides given the financial rewards on offer for progress in the FA Cup.

For the moment, though, we need to concentrate upon this evening’s game.  The League has allowed clubs to publish their match day programmes on line this season and we have taken advantage.  There is a first class publication for tonight’s match available on the club web site, thanks to Gareth Coates, Paul Blair and Graham Felce and you can read it by clicking here.

By being able to do this we will save a lot of money over the season.  In recent seasons fewer and fewer people have been buying programmes and last season, with the cost of production at around £70 a time, a figure not matched by sales, we will be saving around £50 on each and every home game. 

Cambridge City were unlucky to have been relegated from the Premier Division of the Southern League at the end of last season on goal difference and after winning five of their last six matches.  No doubt for that reason, they have been established as one of the likely front runners as they started life at Step 4 for the first time.  Nevertheless and  despite conceding a very early goal through a total mix-up at the back, Ashford, who have retained almost all of last season’s promising squad, fought back so well that in the end they took all three points.

Just one new player started for Ashford and that was James Cottee, signed from CCL runners-up Westfield FC last season and he was to have a significant effect upon the match.  Immediately following their goal though, the home side had their tails up and for a while it was a question of battoning down the hatches for the Tangerines as they found themselves attacked down both flanks, facing two tricky and pacey players.

Gradually though, the game evened out and Ashford started to create chances of their own.  Both Mark Bitmead and Dan Fleming, in particular, went close.  Cambridge still looked dangerous but fortunately Tyler Tobin was in great form in goal.  There were no further goals at the break.

The second half was different as Ashford levelled the scores within four minutes as Cottee latched on to the loose ball and sent his shot unerringly into goal despite bodies on the line.  This was Ashford’s purple period and it was not really a surprise when they took the lead 15 minutes later.  If the first goal was pleasing, the second was pure class.  Cambridge will doubtless feel that they should have defended better as they allowed Fleming to get on the ball but they didn’t and he was given time to flick a deft ball to Tommy Brunton.  If there is one person who can pick a pass better than anyone else in the Tangerine ranks, it is Tommy and his delightful ball through to Jack Beadle  was a defence splitter.  Jack carefully took his time before sliding it past the home keeper for what would eventually turn out to be the winner.

As the match wore on though, the home side re-doubled their efforts and once again Ashford had Tobin to thank as he pulled off save after save.  Ashford defended as if their lives were on the line and Max Webb, on from the bench, just in front of the other defenders soon made his presence felt.  The pressure intensified when Romario Jonas had to leave the field having sustained a slight pull.  Scott Weight though dropped into defence and the side held out, riding their luck as Cambridge’s final effort was a full powered header that rebounded back from the bar.

Referee Wilson did not endear himself to the visitors when he decreed seven minutes of stoppage time and then played nine.  Like all winning sides there was some time wasting on Ashford’s side but hardly that much!  He also cautioned Samad Kazi (rightly) for a heavy tackle but then failed to dish out the same punishment to a home defender when Webb broke with one of his powerful runs only to be quite deliberately tripped.  Overall though he controlled the game well.

It was inconsequential though as both sides provided an entertaining match.  Cambridge will doubtless be disappointed that they let the momentum slip when they had it and time will tell just how valuable these three points will be.  The writer’s guess is that Cambridge are in for a good season once everything settles down but it is difficult to make judgements after only one match.  For Ashford, getting the first points on the board is pressure relieved, as we now go on to a home match against Arlesey Town on Tuesday evening, kick-off 7.45 p.m.  More on that one tomorrow.

 

Ashford start their league season on Saturday with just about their longest trip of the season, away to Cambridge City. 

The first thing to note is that Cambridge are currently ground sharing at St. Ives Town and the address of the ground is St. Ives FC, Westwood Road, St. Ives, PE27 6DT.  It is a trip of just around 80 miles using the M25 and A1M.  We have been there once before when we came up against St. Ives themselves but this is the first time that we have ever met Cambridge who were unlucky to be relegated last season from the Premier Division on goal difference, after amassing 47 points.

There is an eloquent piece on their web site from which can be gleaned that, like ourselves, they have retained the vast majority of their squad from last season and have added a few new players just like ourselves.  They have already been installed in some quarters as one of the favourites in what will be their first stint at this level after reaching the Conference South in 2004 before dropping back to the Southern League in 2008.

Ashford have no injury worries and the squad is augmented by the return of Samad Kazi.  The final friendly at South Park turned into a disappointing affair with the referee abandoning the match after 40 minutes due to lightning and torrential rain.  It was even more disappointing to see them taking their full fee which we had agreed to play.  The writer is old enough to remember  when referees were only too pleased to take friendlies for fitness purposes and would refuse any money more often than not.  It seems those days have well and truly gone.

Forthcoming Events

25 Nov 2017
03:00PM -
Evo-Stik League South v AFC Rushden & Diamonds (H)
28 Nov 2017
07:45PM -
Evo-Stik League South v Hartley Wintney (a)