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.

Here are all the junior results from yesterday:

Michael U7s 7-0 Spelthorne

Bill U8s 3-3 NPL

Chris U8s 5-2 Halliford

Neil U8s 5-3 Kew Park Rangers

Matt U9s 5-0 Halliford

Rhys U9s 1-2 Esher Wizards

Ryan U9s 1-1 Claygate

Matt U10s 5-0 Woking Cougars

Graham U11s 0-4 Halliford

Nelson U11s 0-2 Halliford

Joe U12s 2-9 Corinthian Casuals

Larry U13s 1-1 Surrey Predators

John U13s 5-0 Carshalton  

Craig U14s 12-1 Kew Park Rangers

Martin U15s 5-0 Epsom & Ewell

Ben U16s 3-3 Binfield (Lost on Penalties)

Conor U16s (Won on Penalties) 

Following the excellent performance in the FA Trophy last weekend at Hornchurch, Ashford slumped to a 1-4 defeat on Sunday away to AFC Dunstable who were apparently fully deserved winners and might have had more goals.  Ashford’s one goal came close to the end through Dan Fleming and, in looking for crumbs of comfort, did at least maintain our record of scoring in every match this season.

Beyond that, the writer cannot comment as, along with various other personnel, he was unable to be present on a Sunday.  Although in no way can it be used as an excuse, one hopes that we will not be selected for such an occurrence again.

Fortunately there is a quick opportunity to put matters right as tomorrow evening (Tuesday) we entertain North Greenford United in the 1st Round of the Middlesex Senior Cup – a rare home draw in a cup match!  We have, of course, played against North Greenford on plenty of occasions in the past in the Southern League and various cup competitions.  Our best victory was in October 2010 when we won by 6 goals to 2 in the FA Trophy (ours coming from Isiah Rankin 2, Jamie Lawrence, Mark Bitmead, Spencer Taffurelli and Russell Canderton) but in the last season in which we were both in the Southern League, in 2013-2014, we suffered a double defeat, losing 0-3 away and 1-2 at home.

NGU were relegated from the Central Division of the Southern League at the end of last season and did not make a great start back in the CCL.  However a very recent change of manager has seen a sudden and swift change in their fortunes with two impressive home wins, 8-0 no less, against Chertsey Town last week and then a 2-1 home win against fancied Epsom & Ewell on Saturday.  From our point of view, the match now possibly assumes a greater importance after Sunday’s defeat, prior to a resumption of league matches on Saturday at home to Barton Rovers, which has been designated as another “Junior Day”.

We also anticipate a rare visit from our Company Secretary, Gareth Coates, down from the frozen north, along with Ashford’s record ever goal scorer with 8 goals in a single match, Graham Atkin, who achieved the feat back on 23 October 1965 against Trinity Sports in the Middlesex Junior Cup, in a 13-6 victory.  It was a remarkable scoreline, given that this was a replay after a 1-1 draw the previous week.  Just for good measure, Graham went on to score another 7 goals against the same opponents in a league match later in the season, when Ashford won 15-0!  The occasion on Saturday will be an opportunity for anyone who wants to buy Gareth’s excellent book on the history of the club, recently published and available on Amazon.  He will doubtless have plenty of copies with him on Saturday.

There was to have been an Under-18 friendly this week but that has been cancelled.

Also on Friday when the pitch was being weed-sprayed, the operator somehow managed to knock down a portion of the wall.  We hoped to have had it repaired yesterday but the weather was not conducive to laying bricks .  It will not affect the game tomorrow as the wall was knocked down from inside the pitch but spectators are asked to take care even though the debris will be fenced off.

Ashford will be meeting new opponents this weekend but not on Saturday as usual, but instead on Sunday afternoon, in the shape of AFC Dunstable, who were promoted like ourselves to Step 4 at the end of last season, after winning the Spartan South Midlands League.

The reason for the Sunday fixture appears to be that both our opponents and Dunstable Town, at whose ground Dunstable play, have been allocated home fixtures on the same weekend, which smacks of a fixture error that wasn’t spotted until too late to do much about it.  Hopefully it will not weaken our squad although it has already impacted upon our usual travelling support.  In addition we shall undertake our Middlesex Senior Cup clash at home to North Greenford United on Tuesday evening with just one days rest in between, so hardly ideal.

We have visited the venue before on a number of occasions and the full address is:  Creasey Park Stadium: Creasey Park Drive, Dunstable, LU6 1BB.  It has the makings of a close game with our opponents four points behind us but with a match in hand.  In their last outing they lost rather heavily, against Uxbridge, 0-4, in the Trophy but did well in the FA Cup, reaching the 2nd Qualifying Round before losing out to Hampton & Richmond.  They have yet to lose at home in the League this season, their two defeats coming at Kempston and Bedford Town.

 

 

 

Firstly, here are the junior results from Sunday.

Bill U8s 5-6 Met Police

Andy U9s 6-3 Halliford

Rhys U9s 1-0 Claygate 

Matt U10s 1-2 Esher Wizards

Graham U11s 4-1 Oxshott

Kirk U11s 2-7 Ruislip Rangers

Nelson U11s 2-4 Kew Park Rangers

John U13s 5-4 (penalties) Carshalton C/C

Paul U13s 13-1 Hayes & Yeading C/C

Craig U14s 1-2 Junior Bees

Fin U14s 3-1 Meadow Sports

Martin U15s 4-2 Victoria

Conor U16s 1-2 Ruislip Rangers C/C

Simon U16s 1-5 Spelthorne Sports 

Secondly, one of our players passed a huge milestone on Saturday in the FA Trophy match at AFC Hornchurch.  Samad Kazi who can perform efficiently in just about any position on the field played in his 200th competitive match for the club in this game.  Considering that he generally plays more at the back than anywhere else these days, he has amassed 40 goals within that period.  Well done Samad.

We can now confirm that this evening’s scheduled Under-18 match at home to Hendon U18 will go ahead, kick-off 7.45 p.m. at Short Lane.

The Middlsex Charity Cup, 1st Round match away to Hellenic League side Southall FC has also now been arranged with the match to take place at our ground on Tuesday 6 December, kick-off 7.45 p.m.  The switch has been agreed because Southall ground share at Hanwell Town FC and there is fixture congestion at the ground.

Finally well done to the Ladies side who remain at the top of their division in the Greater London Women’s League, following their 1-1 draw on Sunday away to Putney Vale Ladies, Ashford’s goal coming from Charlotte Benham. There is a full report on the Ladies’ web site at https://ashfordtownmiddlesexladies.com/2016/10/10/ashford-draw-level/

 

Ashford travelled to AFC Hornchurch on Saturday in the 1st Qualifying Round of the FA Trophy and won by three goals to two, to set up yet another away cup tie in the 2nd Qualifying round, away to Ryman League Tonbridge Angels.

Ben Murray made five changes from the side that had faced Slough Town in the week and with the rested players returning, it was the visitors who made the early running, taking the lead on 14 minutes, when, from distance, Mark Bitmead cracked home a free kick that gave home keeper Joe Bowles little chance.

Ashford were playing well and it could not be said to be undeserved when Max Herbert made it two just after the half-hour mark, when a right wing cross from Kameron English found the Ashford player in space and he calmly placed it past the onrushing keeper.

There was no further scoring before the break and Hornchurch had barely threatened but they came out for the second half with a fresh determination and were boosted within two minutes as they halved the arrears.  It was an avoidable goal from Ashford’s point of view as there seemed little danger as Lewis Taylor went to head the ball back to Kav Keadell in goal following a shout and possibly misjudged the distance and it became a race between Keadell and Hornchurch’s David Knight.  From the other end it looked initially as if Keadell had won the race and headed the ball away a split second before the two players collided heavily.  Referee Mannix seemed hesitant as to what the decision should be but his assistant rather took over and clearly thought there had been a foul.  So a penalty it was and Keadell went into the book.  He then performed brilliantly in saving Knight’s kick but it rebounded out and Leon McKenzie was the first to it.

For a while Hornchurch were buoyed, as they would be, and mounted a series of attacks, mostly using the long ball but despite one or two near things, the visitors dealt well with the ariel bombardment, with Scott Weight, an absolute rock just in front of the back four.  That said there was almighty relief amongst the visiting supporters when, with just ten minutes on the clock, plus stoppage time, Max Webb restored the two goal advantage when Bowles was unable to hold on to another Bitmead free kick leaving Webb to react and find the back of the net.

With Tommy Brunton on to steady the ship, it seemed game over but Hornchurch to their credit did not buckle and within a minute or two they scored again themselves when Jed Chouman found the net, ensuring a few more uncomfortable minutes to survive.  The referee was receiving advice from all and sundry concerning his time keeping but after four and a bit minutes he blew his whistle and Ashford were £2500 richer and into the next round, in which they could not really have been given a tougher tie with Tonbridge very close to the top of the Ryman League Premier Division.  We can worry about that one in due course but just to remind everyone that our next match is scheduled for Sunday, not Saturday, away at AFC Dunstable.  We are less than happy about it but there will be more on the game later in the week.

There is no 1st Team midweek game but the Under-18’s are due to be at home to Hendon U18 on Wednesday evening, kick-off 7.45 p.m.  It is understood that Hendon may have a problem with their youth side and that the match could be in some doubt but there will be confirmation one way or another as soon as we know.

Ashford Ladies drew earlier today one apiece with Putney Vale Ladies, the first points they have dropped in the League this season.

Ashford’s poor luck in terms of away cup draws this season is set to continue on Saturday when we visit AFC Hornchurch in the 1st Qualifying Round of the FA Trophy.

That said, we always enjoyed our visits to Hornchurch in the past when both sides were in the Ryman Prem and where there was always a warm welcome from the home club.  These days we are both playing at Step 4 and given the relative league positions of both clubs one would assume a fairly close match.  Hornchurch play in Division One North of the Ryman League and currently sit in 8th place, having won five and lost three of their twelve league matches to date.

Our two clubs have previously met on seven occasions and we are slightly ahead on “points” with four wins to two, with one draw, although the match that may stick in some people’s minds would be the opening match of the 2007-2008 season which we lost at Short Lane by 5 goals to 4, our scorers that day being an o.g., Ricky Wellard, Matt Baxter and Rob Hughes.  We have met once before in the FA Trophy, in our best ever run in the competition in the 2010-2011 season, when we scraped a win in the closing seconds thanks to a goal from Jones Awuah, after Hornchurch had dominated much of the preceding 89 minutes.

The address of the ground is the Hornchurch Stadium, Bridge Avenue, Upminster, Essex, RM14 2LX.  It is a journey of 61 miles around the M25, leaving at Junction 29 (the road to Southend) and turning left soon afterwards towards Hornchurch.

There is a mini-bus for players and management, leaving Short Lane at 11.30 a.m. and there may be room for one or two supporters.  Otherwise it is down to private transport and maybe anyone intending to travel and who has room in their car and is willing to convey a fellow supporter or two can put it up on Ashford’s Facebook page.

As with the FA Cup, there will be no extra time on Saturday so should the scores be level after 90 minutes, there will be a reply at Short Lane on Tuesday evening to see who then travels to Tonbridge Angels in the next round.

 

 

Ashford found themselves on the wrong end of a 2-9 defeat in the League Cup on Tuesday evening, losing to a rampant Slough Town side.

As far as the writer can ascertain it is only the second time (after a fairly swift search through) we have ever conceded nine goals in a match, the previous occasion being on 9 January 1965 when a side called Townfield FC walloped us in the 2nd Division of the Hounslow & District League by 13 goals to one.  Since our formation we have only one suffered one worse defeat in terms of goal margins, when Bognor beat us 8-0 in the Ryman League on 16 November 2002 (and then loudly named their whole side as “man of the match” which we found rather disrespectful at the time, don’t know why).  We have incidentally hit ten or more goals ourselves on many occasions and they will be listed for interest only in a further article in due course.

Back to last night and Ben Murray, very much with Saturday’s FA Trophy match at Hornchurch in mind, left a few key players out to ensure they were all OK for that match.  That said, Slough were so good at times last night on their new plastic surface that it may well have not made much difference.  One of the changes was the debut of Luke Daley in goal and he suffered a baptism of fire.  He may well have done better with one or two of the goals and seemed a little prone to rushing from his goal at times but he also saved a penalty and made a number of other saves that, otherwise, could have made the situation even worse from Ashford’s point of view.

Everything started well and Ashford took the lead on 4 minutes when Max Herbert followed up some excellent work by Dan Fleming to crash the ball home.  By the time 8 minutes had expired, Slough had both equalised and gone ahead and when the score line reached 4-1 after 20 minutes and 6-1 by half-time, one feared the worst.

Despite being unable to cope defensively, Ashford though never once stopped playing football and in the second half actually played some excellent football themselves against their talented opponents.  Kam English reduced the deficit just after the hour mark, following a superb ball from Tommy Brunton, and whilst talk of a comeback would have been wildly inaccurate, the game had at least become relatively even at that point.  Sadly it didn’t last and two goals in as many minutes as the match reached the last 15 made it 2-7, and two more in the final ten minutes rubbed it in as Slough just never stopped.

All that said, Ashford walked off the pitch with their heads held high, knowing they had faced a team that, on this performance, is surely destined for promotion at the end of the season, and had played some football of their own which will still see many clubs at their own level well beaten this season.

After a couple of narrow defeats, the Under-18 side got their season up and running on Monday evening with a 5-4 win at CB Hounslow United in the 1st Round of the Middlesex County U18 Cup, known as the Jeff Ritson Cup.

Here is Nick Bailey’s summary of the match:

“Crazy game for the 18s on Monday evening in the Jeff Riston Senior Youth Cup which see host CB Hounslow converting three goals from the penalty spot with stand in keeper Josh Bates in the sticks, the game finished 4-5 to Ashford and sees them progress into the next round. 

Ashford started the brighter, plenty of possession and a drive, on another day Ashford should have put the tie to bed during the 1st half but for some rash defending and sloppy decisions they allowed CB back into the game by conceding 2 first half penalties, the half time score 2-3 to Ashford. 

The 2nd half started very much the same as the first, plenty of possession and attacking play in which Ashford were awarded with their 4th goal 2-4, but the story was the same as the first half, another penalty allowed CB back into the match 3-4.

Ashford scored their 5th around the 80th minute mark but CB replied, this time not from the spot but from a long range effort which agonisingly rolled under the arms of Bates 5-4.

The match finished 4-5, a great game for the supporter, not so much for the coaching staff, 9 goals, 3 penalties, Ashford will now play away to the winners of Conquest or Hendon in the next round to be played W/C 7th November.” 

 

After a number of years in its preparation, our Company Secretary Gareth Coates has completed his book on the history of Ashford Town, and it is now available for purchase on Amazon.  Below is the message from Gareth, who will be down from Liverpool on Saturday 22 October, when we entertain Barton Rovers, to officially launch the book.  We hope that quite a few old "Ashfordians" will be present including the record goal scorer from a single match in the club's history, Graham Atkin, who achieved this feat that has never been beaten, back in the 60's.

Here is Gareth's message:

I'm delighted to announce that "From Albion to Zazzera - The History of Ashford Town (Middlesex) FC" is out now! There are two versions available; the paperback is £9.99 and there is also a Kindle eBook at £4.99.

The book contains a summary of every season from 1958-59 to 2015-16, as well as a little bit of information about notable clubs who played in Ashford and Stanwell before our club was established. There are also profiles of all the players who have gone on to play in the Football League, or who have played international football and represented Ashford. There's also a chapter dedicated to a small selection of the many people who have helped to develop the club over the years. This was a very difficult section to compose, as it would be easy to fill a seperate book just with profiles of all the people who deserve inclusion in an Ashford "Hall of Fame".

Both versions are available to order from Amazon. The best way to do this is to go to http://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/ashfordtownfc and sign up as a supporter if you haven't already. Then click through to Amazon and search for "Ashford Town". Then, order the book (and anything else you like).

Easyfundraising is free, includes over 1,000 online retailers and doesn't affect the price you pay. But every time you use it to shop online, a cut of the cost comes back to the club.

It's incredible to have finally finished this project after about seven and a half years. I hope that it will be an interesting and enjoyable read for all my fellow Tangerines.

Best Regards,

 

Gareth

Ashford returned to winning ways on Saturday with a 2-0 home success against Uxbridge, both goals coming in the first half.

The opening 45 minutes were close to being Ashford’s best of the season as they dominated possession and exerted considerable pressure upon the Uxbridge goal, the first goal coming on 18 minutes.  It was something of a corker as Alex Fisher sent in a penetrating long ball to Mark Bitmead whose ferocious effort flew past Paul McCarthy in the Uxbridge goal.

Six minutes later it was two as Dan Fleming was tripped in the area, Bitmead making no mistake in slotting away the penalty kick.

Ashford failed to add to the tally before half-time and for quite a while afterwards 2-0 looked a perilous lead as Uxbridge shook off their lethargy and enjoyed far more of the game than hitherto.  Despite their superior possession though, Ashford keeper Kav Keadell was not unduly troubled and as time wore on the game evened up again and McCarthy made one fantastic save to deny Dan Fleming from close in.  Max Herbert hit the post in the dying minutes but overall this was a satisfying day for the club with a solid victory and a clean sheet to boot.

The three points keep Ashford in the leading pack in 6th place, just three points behind leaders Farnborough, but there is now a rest from league action as two cup matches take precedence.  The first is on Tuesday when we visit Slough Town’s new ground in the League Cup (directions etc, are shown in a previous article) whilst next Saturday we go to AFC Hornchurch in the FA Trophy.  More on that one later in the week.

Ashford are one of 11 CCL clubs competing on Saturday to reach the 2nd Round of the FA Vase.  It will be no easy task though, as they have of the toughest matches the Club could have reasonably expected at this stage of the competition, in the shape of Kidlington FC, who compete in the Hellenic League and in which they currently sit in 5th place, with only two league defeats all season, one of which came on Tuesday evening when Kidlington, very handily, played down the road at Ascot United, losing 1-2.

The address of the ground is Yarnton Road, Kidlington, Oxon, OX5 1AT.  It is approximately 51 miles from Short Lane and is a fairly straightforward journey, along the M25, on to the M40 and then leave at Junction 8 on to the A40.  The journey would not normally take more than an hour and a quarter but Kidlington have kindly warned us of roadworks in the vicinity which may cause hold-ups so best leave plenty of time.

We have been told this morning that one of the two buses is only a 9 seater which may cause problems so please be aware that we may not be able to transport everyone who wants to travel on the mini-buses, so pleased be prepared to drive if necessary.  There may be some spare places on the players’ mini-bus so if you can get to the ground by 11.30 am, so much the better.

There will be extra time on Saturday should it be needed but if the scores are still level at that point there will be a replay on Tuesday evening at Short Lane.

Kidlington’s best performance in the Vase came back in the 1976-77 season when they reached the 5th Round before losing at Gosport Borough, but more recently they have reached the 3rd Round twice, in 2012-13 and 2013-14. 

It was only last season, of course, that we returned to the Vase competition after doing quite well overall in the FA Trophy for a number of years.  Last season we found ourselves on the wrong end of a 2-3 defeat at home to Loxwood which was a big blow at the time as we were hoping to go a long way in the competition.

Team wise tomorrow, Ben Murray will still have a difficult task to pick his opening eleven, especially after Tuesday’s sparkling performance against Kent League high-flyers Beckenham Town, despite some ongoing injuries.  Josh Andrew is unavailable having played for Hanworth Villa in the competition this season but Will Boye is OK as his previous club Colliers Wood do not enter the competition until the 2nd Round stage, by virtue of their fine performance the previous season.

Good luck to all the other CCL clubs competing: it’s about time one of us put the League in the spotlight, although Guernsey of course reached the semi-final three seasons ago as a CCL club and Merstham came close to that stage a few seasons back.

British Airways are at home on Saturday to Southall Reserves but the Ladies, who beat South London Ladies 7-0 last week, do not have a match this weekend.  Great incidentally to see some of the Ladies side coming along to support the 1st Team recently.  The Sunday side are away to Hamilton Associates at the Fullers Sports Ground in Chiswick.  Junior fixtures to follow.

A match full of good football from both sides on Tuesday evening saw Ashford beating Beckenham Town by three goals to one in the 1st Round of the Surrey Senior Cup.  Ashford will now be away to Knaphill in the next round on Tuesday 1 December.

With Saturday’s FA Vase matches doubtless in mind, both teams had important players either on the bench or not present but it made little difference as an even first half ensued, played at a fast pace that, for much of the time, was a pleasure to watch.  With recently signed Josh Andrews and Will Boye both available, Ben Murray gave them both a start, with just Bradley Wainwright up front, replacing Dan Fleming who has a niggling ham string injury.  Scott Weight also started butGeorge Marks, Tommy Brunton and Samad Kazi were all left on the bench in reserve, although none of them were required to take the field in the end.

Despite the best efforts of both reams there were no goals in the first half but just seven minutes into the second period, it was Boye who opened the scoring with an unstoppable header from Alex Fisher’s corner.  At that point Ashford seemed to be assuming some form of control for the first time in the game but it was the visitors who scored the next goal on 67 minutes when a decent finish from James Humphreys saw them level.

Goals tend to change mind sets and for a while it was the visitors who looked more threatening but it was Ashford who went ahead again soon afterwards when Jack Beadle picked the ball up on the left flank and cut inside before unleashing a swerving effort that gave the keeper little chance. 

Ashford tails were now back up and a flowing movement worthy of the entrance money alone saw Andrews in the right place to score the third and final goal of the game with seven minutes left on the clock.

Against an excellent side with eleven unbeaten matches behind them, who would definitely enhance the CCL, should the FA gods ever consider same, Ashford gave a competent display, that left it difficult to pick anyone out but a special mention should perhaps be given to Bradley Wainwright, whose non-stop running and harrying kept the visitors’ defence on their toes for the full 90 minutes, and did not go unappreciated by the Ashford support.

We now look forward to the 1st Round Proper of the FA Vase on Saturday when we travel to Hellenic League side Kidlington FC.  It looks like one of the hardest draws we could have got at this stage, with Kidlington doing very well in their league but they will doubtless be thinking along similar lines.  More on that later in the week but just to confirm that we have a supporters’ mini bus going to Kidlington, leaving Short Lane at 12.30.  There are limited spaces available so you need to get your name down on the list on the notice board (first come, first served).  If you can’t get down in person, you can ring the club on 01784 245908 (after midday any day) to get them to add your name to the list.  Cost of travel on the bus will be £10, payable upon boarding.

Not such a good story to tell from the Under-18’s who were beaten 2-5 at Staines Town on Monday evening.  A very useful Staines side scored four before the interval and a rout looked possible but manager Nick Bailey shuffled things round and to be fair Ashford had a far more determined look about them in the second period, pulling two goals back, before Staines hit their fifth at the death.  This season is very much a learning curve for the Under-18’s most of whom were playing junior Sunday football last season and they can only benefit from playing in the Ryman Youth League, which is full of good sides.  This evening (Wednesday) the lads have their second match of the week, when they will be at home to Bedfont Sports in the 1st Round of the Lucas-Fettes Cup (League Cup).  Sports are another very strong side who almost reached the 1st Round Proper of the FA Youth Cup last week.  Kick-off is 7.45 p.m.

If you give away three goals in the first 17 minutes of a match, it is very likely that you will lose the game.  So it proved for Ashford on Saturday against Epsom & Ewell who were presented with three very preventable goals in that opening period.  One could be said to fortunate in that there was an unfortunate ricochet in the build up but the other two can only be put down to poor defending, and, to be fair, the ability of the visitors to take the chances on offer, especially the second one when Epsom’s main striker Kyle Hough went in bravely to stab the ball past Tyler Tobin, collecting a bang for his troubles that saw him unable to carry on. We wish him a speedy recovery.

Having been shell shocked by these early developments, Ashford to their credit and spurred on by an incandescent Ben Murray, set about retrieving the situation and pulled one back very quickly with a slide rule effort by Jack Beadle.  Just two minutes later Samad Kazi scrambled the ball home after a shot had hit the post and the come-back seemed very much on with just 25 minutes on the clock.

Somehow though the game seemed to fizzle out after that and although they enjoyed the greater possession Ashford never really troubled their visitors’ goal again.  Epsom defended well, wasted as much time as they could and the realisation struck home before the end that Ashford were not going to get anything from the match as they rather ran out of ideas.  Indeed Epsom had opportunities themselves to score again so it was a less than perfect day after another run of five straight wins. 

It is hardly a disaster though as the League seems tighter than ever this season which can be demonstrated by the fact that Chertsey won at Epsom last week whilst on Saturday Sutton Common Rovers won at Camberley, who played part of the game with ten men, following the sending off of Bobby Dormer.  The one exception at present seems to be Hartley Wintney who won again, this time narrowly at Knaphill by the only goal of the game.  Well done to them but it’s a long, long season.  One only has to look at Cove to see how fortunes can change quickly, which they did for Cove after Christmas last year after they looked like running away with the League in the first half of the season.

A word for our referee on Saturday, Mr. Luis Pinto Nunes.  Mr. Nunes showed exactly how it should be done exercising both common sense and restraint throughout the afternoon.  There were very few fouls in the match anyway but a spat between Dan Fleming and Epsom defender, Matt Tanton could easily have seen both players sent off, and neither could really have complained, but Mr. Nunes took his time, took into account the general good discipline from both sides and allowed both players to stay on the field.  That’s what most clubs would want from referees i.e. some individuality and common sense and Mr. Nunes will receive an excellent mark from Ashford and probably from Epsom as well and not just because of the one incident.

Ashford welcomed new signing Will Boye into the squad and he came on towards the end, albeit in an unfamiliar midfield position and there is plenty more going on behind the scenes to strengthen the squad.  No signings are ever announced until they have been sealed and settled but hopefully there will be more news this week.

Going the other way, until Christmas, by way of a gentleman’s agreement, is Harry Driver who needs game time and he has moved to Guildford City where he went straight into their line-up for their remarkable 9-3 win at Chessington on Saturday.  He was substituted in the second half and hopefully that was tactical rather than any re-occurrence of the injury that has kept him out for much of the season.

Mark Bitmead is getting closer to fitness but sadly it looks as if Lewis Taylor’s season may be over.  It was good to see him at the ground albeit on crutches on Saturday and we all wish him the best for as speedy a recovery as possible.

This week there are three matches involving Ashford sides.  The 1st Team will be at home on Tuesday evening to Beckenham Town from the South East Combination (ex-Kent League) in the 1st Round of the Surrey Senior Cup and it looks another tough match as Beckenham are in 5th place in their table with an unbeaten 11 match run behind them in all competitions.  We have not played each other since September 2000, over fifteen years ago, when we came out on top by 2 goals to 1 in the 2nd Qualifying Round of the FA Vase, courtesy of goals from Des Vertannes (penalty) and Scott Todd, now playing for Frimley Green by the way.  That was the only previous meeting between our clubs.  The winners will play away to Knaphill in the 2nd Round.

Quite why it is necessary at this time of the season is not known but the Under-18’s have two matches this week.  This evening (Monday) they will be away to Staines Town in a Ryman Youth League match whilst on Wednesday they will play at home to Bedfont Sports in the 1st Round of the Lucas Fettes Youth Cup.

Manager Nick Bailey has sent in a brief summary from last week’s Youth defeat at the hands of Northwood which is below:

“A very disappointing evening for our 18s because the side that played against Northwood played and beat Wealdstone the week before in such a convincing manor.  It was an easy decision to start with the same side but unlike last week the players decided not to show up until they were 3 down with time running out. 

Ashford were unlucky with the goals that they conceded, the first came after 15 minutes when one of our midfield players was off the pitch receiving treatment leaving us to defend a set piece with 10 men - having said that the goal was a defensive mistake with a free header inside the 6 yard box. Northwood's two other goals came in the second half, one was a freak own goal that flicked off our defender leaving our keeper no chance and the third was a gift from the centre back leaving a one on one with our keeper. We certainly made it easy for Northwood but they deserved the 3 points on the night.”

 

Ashford are at home on Saturday when 5th placed Epsom & Ewell are the visitors.  Despite a rapid exit from most of the cup competitions, they have made a fairly decent start to the season, only losing their first league match last Saturday when Chertsey Town rather surprisingly came away with all three points.  Indeed Epsom’s overall record this season is better on the road, with big wins coming at both Cove and Spelthorne Sports, the latter being before their recent change of management which seems to have revitalised the club.

Last season honours were shared with Epsom winning at Short Lane and the Tangerines doing likewise at Epsom (Chipstead).  We will be facing two trips to Epsom later in the season as we have been drawn away to them in the 3rd Round of the League Cup (The Cherry Red Records Premier Challenge Cup) to give it its full title.

Ashford will still be without Mark Bitmead and Lewis Taylor on Saturday but the return from holiday of Joey Robson and the arrival this week of Will Boye from Colliers Wood plus  the recent return from injury of Dan Fleming still gives Ben Murray a difficult task in picking his opening eleven, with just about everyone in good form at the moment.  A special mention goes to George Marks, who has installed a toughness at the back since his return and that has been a significant factor in Ashford’s current run of five consecutive wins in all competitions, none of them spectacular but all solid enough.

Kick-off as always is at 3.00 p.m. and we thank the Villager Newspaper for their generous sponsorship of the match.

Of our other immediate rivals near the top of the table, Camberley Town are at home to Sutton Common Rovers whilst Hartley Wintney are away to Knaphill.  Horley Town probably have the toughest test of those three playing just down the road at Spelthorne.

The Under-18’s suffered a disappointing defeat on Wednesday evening at home to Northwood, losing 0-3, in a match where Ashford only showed up after they had gone three down.  After beating Wealdstone the previous week, such a poor display was unexpected but it will add to the squad’s growing experience and they are actually playing twice next week, once against Staines Town and once against Bedfont Sports, on Monday and Thursday respectively.  More details on those games later.

The 1st Team are in Surrey Senior Cup action on Tuesday when we entertain Beckenham Town with the winner to play away to Knaphill in the 2nd Round, the latter having got the better of Camberley on Tuesday evening, winning on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

Other matches this weekend are as follows:

British Airways are away to Indian Gymkhana in the Premier Division of the Middlesex Couty League

There are less junior matches on Sunday than normal due to half-term but the games are:

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

Conor U15s v Woking Cougars 11.30 a.m.

Joe U17s v Walton Casuals 1pm (Friendly)

Ashford Town 7 – 7 Pitch

Graham U10s v Spelthorne Sports 10.00 a.m.

Away Matches

Larry U12s v Kew Association

Fin U13s v Hook Youth

Martin U14s v Wallington Wanderers

Ben U15s v Ewell Saxons

The Sunday Men’s team are at home to Fulwell City whilst the Ladies are at home to South London Women FC, who are in 3rd place in the table.

ASHFORD U-18  v  NORTHWOOD U-18 TONIGHT, 7.45 p.m.

Inspired football at times during the match enabled Ashford to win at Hanworth Villa on Tuesday evening in the 1st Round of the Middlesex Senior Cup.  The reward is a 2nd Round tie at home to AFC Hayes, who overcame Harefield United 4-2 last night, on Tuesday 17 November.

It is Ashford’s intention to treat all the cups we are in this season with the utmost respect and manager Ben Murray named just about his strongest available squad for the match.  He was rewarded by some exhilarating football from his side in the opening 25 minutes.  Hanworth Villa, who are a good side as we all know, were hard pressed to man the pumps in that period but they could not prevent a crisp effort from Jack Beadle putting the Ash Trees ahead on 16 minutes.  There should really have been one or two more goals during that period but as the half wore on, the match finally evened up to a degree, although Tyler Tobin’s goal was never seriously threatened.

The second half began as the first half had ended with the Villains on the attack and within four minutes of the re-start, they were level from the penalty spot.  It was impossible to see through a crowd of players what had happened but there were minimal protests as Adam Baigent struck his kick just beyond Tobin’s effort to keep it out.

The goal obviously gave the home side hope that they would be able to turn the tie around but Ashford did not allow that to happen, gradually re-asserting their authority, which was rewarded with a goal on 67 minutes from free-scoring full back Alex Fisher.  This time it was from a direct free kick which he curled expertly round the wall and beyond the despairing grasp of Tom Martin in the Villa goal.

Eight minutes later, Samad Kazi,  later named “Ashford Player of the Match” and playing at right back, capped a superb performance as he hammered home the third goal to ensure Ashford’s passage.

Villa were not quite finished and another soft foul three minutes into stoppage time saw them awarded a second penalty, again well finished by Argent.  The whistle went a few moments later though and that was that.

It is pleasing to report that there was only one caution in the match (for Villa) but that possibly owed something to referee Andrew’s apparent policy of “anything goes”, with maybe Villa a little more fortunate than Ashford to escape virtually unscathed.  That said, it was far from a dirty match and both sides provided  some good entertainment at times.

Ashford in this sort of mood are an exciting side to watch at the moment.  Kazi won the “Ashford Man of the Match” award whilst Bailey Mummery also took the writer’s eye with his non-stop running from start to finish.  Just about everyone though could walk off the field last night knowing they had played well.

There is good news on the player front as well.   Ashford have signed Will Boye, transferred from Colliers Wood United.  Will, of course, runs our Ladies’ side and we were hoping that he might have signed in pre-season but his decision to stay with Colliers was obviously respected.  When he announced recently though that he had decided to leave the Wood, we have managed to snap him up.  Will, who was the skipper of Colliers Wood, is a tall, tough but elegant defender and we thank Colliers for facilitating the transfer following our notice of approach.

Of our longer term injuries, both Mark Bitmead and Lewis Taylor remain under treatment but it was good to see Mark taking part in the warm-up last night and he will hopefully not be too far away from returning.

This evening (Wednesday), the Under-18’s are back in action at Short Lane when they will be entertaining Northwood in a Ryman Youth League encounter, kick-off 7.45 p.m.  The lads will be buzzing one would imagine, following last week’s win at Wealdstone and will certainly be after revenge following the defeat at Northwood in the FA Youth Cup a week or so back.

Another piece of news is that Knaphill defeated Camberley yesterday evening in the Surrey Senior Cup, which means, of course, that whoever comes out on top between ourselves and Beckenham Town next week, will be going to Knaphill in the next round.

The 1st Team will be at home on Saturday when high flying Epsom & Ewell are the visitors, although they had a setback last Saturday losing at home to Chertsey Town.  There will be more on that one though later in the week.

Local derbies are always tough, especially when playing away, so Ashford were pleased enough to take all three points at Bedfont Sports on Saturday, courtesy of a solitary goal from Max Webb.

It came on the half-hour mark and was an unstoppable header, from an Alex Fisher corner.  It has been captured perfectly in this week’s Non-League Paper.

It is fair to say that the visitors dominated the possession for much of the first half, despite an injury suffered by Lewis Taylor, who collapsed with nobody near him and had to be taken to hospital.  Needless to say we all send our best wishes to Lewis and hope to see him back soon.  Fortunately Ashford had skipper Russell Canderton on the bench and he formed an immediate strong partnership with George Marks at the back.  Despite the possession, Ashford were unable to increase the lead and with the ever stiffer breeze behind them in the second half, Bedfont manager Mick Snowden visibly changed his side’s tactics with them seemingly instructed to play long at every opportunity.

It did result in a few opportunities for the home side but they did not have their shooting boots on, with ex-Ashford Jamie Read arguably guilty of the worst miss.  Although the match was now far more even, Ashford also forged opportunities, the best being a snap shot near the end from Webb, which hit the bar with some ferocity.  If that had gone in, it would have eased any Ashford nerves over the last ten minutes or so but as it was, the Tangerines generally defended well and held out reasonably comfortably.

The match was refereed by a Spanish referee and there were one or two incidents that were a little unusual.  The most bizarre was when there was a head injury following a collision between two players.  The ref seemed to call on the physios but then proceeded to caution Pat Munns for coming onto the field without permission, much to our worthy physio’s annoyance.


On to other matters and it’s another cup match on Tuesday evening when we have another short trip, this time to Hanworth Villa, in the 1st Round of the Middlesex Senior Cup.  Dark suspicions have already been voiced, not by us we hasten to say, that the eight Step 5 clubs drawn to play in the 1st Round are all playing each other and then the four winners will play each other in two matches in the 2nd Round.  We have been assured that it is simply pot luck and we have no reason not to believe that but would it not be a good idea for all Counties to follow the Surrey way of conducting their Senior Cup draw publicly on local radio, or at least inviting an observer or two for the Senior Cup, which would then quash all such suspicions.  The match tomorrow evening kicks off at 7.30 p.m. and in case anyone isn’t aware, the address of the ground is Rectory Meadows, Park Road, Hanworth, TW13 6PN.  The winners will be at home to either Harefield United or AFC Hayes.  In the meantime Staines have the plum draw at home to Barnet who are in the competition, if not for the first time, then certainly not for a long time.

It was another good weekend for the Ladies who won 5-2 yesterday at Colne Valley Reserves in the 1st Round of the Capital Ladies Junior Cup and will now play at home to Brook House Ladies in the 2nd Round on Sunday 15 November. 

There were some mixed results for the various junior sides but Ben Murray’s Under-15’s enjoyed an excellent 4-2 win over Celtic FC in the County Cup, whilst Conor Moody’s Under 15’s beat Esher FC in a league match 11-2.  All the results will be put on the web site in due course.

The Sunday side did not do so well, losing 0-8 at home to Hanworth Sports, who have a 100% record so far.

BA though won 2-1 at home against Deportivo Galicia, a win that takes them to 5th in the table.  They have an interesting match tomorrow evening away to Westfield from the CCL, in the S. Comb. Cup.

Finally, adverting to the 1st Team, Samad Kazi made his 100th competitive start in the 1st Team at Bedfont on Saturday, a milestone also recently passed by Tyler Tobin.  Tom Brunton has also made more than 100 appearances including sub appearances whilst Jack Beadle needs four more to complete his 100th appearance for the club.

It’s back to the League on Saturday for Ashford as they make the short trip to Bedfont Sports FC.

Under Mick Snowden, Sports currently sit in 18th place in the table but they have games in hand on all the clubs around them and are in something of a false position at the moment.  Our opponents have a number of players who have played for Ashford including, of course, recent recruit Paul Johnson from Spelthorne Sports.  Others are Joe Hughes, Danny Byron and Adam Fearn.

Ashford managed to do the double last season last season in the League but our neighbours had their revenge in the Middlesex Senior Cup, which they won on penalties, following a four all draw.  The address of the ground is Bedfont Sports Club, Hatton Road, Bedfont, TW14 8JA and kick-off is 3.00 p.m. 

Ashford will come into the game with three successive wins behind them and with key players rested on Tuesday in the League Cup match, should be in good heart.  Sports drew at Redhill in their most recent match and lost narrowly 2-3 at home to AFC Hayes last Tuesday week.

Our partners British Airways are at home in the Middlesex County League to Deportivo Galicia on Saturday. whilst on Sunday the Ladies are away to Colne Valley Reserves in the 1st Round of the Capital Women’s Junior Cup at Kenyngton Manor Rec, Sunbury, kick-off 2.00 p.m.  Colne Valley Reserves play in Division Two of the Greater London Women’s League, one higher than Ashford Ladies, and have won two, drawn one and lost one of their matches to date, so it should be a tougher test than usual for the girls.  The winners will be at home to Brook House Ladies in the 2nd Round.

 

Ashford's Under 18 Ryman Youth side playing away in the League for the first time this season on Wednesday evening, returned home with all three points following a 2-1 victory which sees Ashford up to 4th place in the fledgling table.  Manager Nick Bailey has sent the following brief report.

"Playing slightly up the slope in the first half Ashford pressed from the start and it paid off when Keegan Stewart won the ball and fed Ashford's pacey striker Isaac Mplana who outpaced Wealdstone’s flat back line and calmly slotted past the keeper to make it 1-0  to Ashford after 7 minutes. 

Ashford didn't drop their tempo and continued to press all over the pitch and once again it paid off as Isaac got his second of the match after 10 minutes. Wealdstone did pull one back on the 35th minute when their winger got in behind our back line and cut his pass back to the oncoming midfielder who gave our keeper Nick Bennett no chance with a rocket finish, the first half finished 1-2.

As the second half started Ashford continued to set the tempo of the match, as the midfield three of Aaron Lovett, Charlie Bailey and Carlo Caruso continued to press high and didn't give Wealdstone time to settle.  This resulted in Wealdstone having to play long and direct which our back line of Kasey Williams, Ilia Perovic, Josh Bates and Tommy Fright dealt with superbly. 

We had an excellent chance of extending our lead when Mason Roseboom slid Isaac in with a perfectly weighted ball but this time he could only manage the side net. Sub Harry Herdman came on with 20 minutes to go, following his 1st team game on Tuesday and tested the keeper with a well taken free kick resulting in the save of the match. 

Man of the match was a difficult decision last night but was eventually awarded to the goal scorer Isaac for his hard work and constant threat going forward. "

There was good news also for the Ladies side this week, with two of our girls, Lavanna Neufville and Ashley Cheatley being selected to play for Middlesex County last night at Uxbridge, against Sussex, which ended in a 4-2 win for Middlesex.

Neither of our players got on the scoresheet but both played extremely well and they are now due to be involved in the upcoming fixtures against the Army Ladies and Kent Ladies.

Ashford duly beat Epsom Athletic on Tuesday evening in the 2nd Round of the Cherry Red Records Premier Challenge Cup and will now travel to Epsom & Ewell (at Chipstead FC) in the 3rd Round on a date to be determined.

It should firstly be said that Epsom Athletic impressed everyone last night with both their spirit and discipline, especially in the face of some seemingly rather odd offside decisions in the first half that never came and which generally favoured Ashford.  Referee Tesilyurt was making his second appearance of the season at Short Lane and this time there were no problems whatsoever with neither side incurring a caution, which was good and he generally refereed the game well despite incurring manager Murray's displeasure on one occasion when he failed to stop play following a head injury.

The manager made a number of changes from Saturday’s side, including a full debut for 16 year old Harry Herdman, who did well enough to impress sufficient numbers of Ashford supporters for him to be voted Ashford “Man of the Match”.  A touch sentimental perhaps but he certainly showed he is one for the future.

The first half saw Ashford dominating possession without making it count.  Visiting keeper Jason McGregor was on top form and it took until five minutes before half-time before the break through was finally made.  A ball was squared to Scott Elgar who held it up well before slipping it to Alex Fisher, who slammed it home giving McGregor no chance.  Full back Fisher will doubtless now be wishing he had negotiated a goal scoring bonus in pre-season as this was his third goal in as many matches.

Having finally taken the lead, many expected the floodgates to open in the second half but Ashford continued to border on the lethargic and their visitors grew into the game to some extent.  Their hopes were dampened on 64 minutes though when a left wing corner from Scott Elgar eluded everyone and nestled into the far corner to double the lead.

Game over?  No was the answer as Epsom’s Carl Thomas got one back for his side five minutes later and the visitors suddenly started to believe they might get something from the game.  Ashford always had that extra little bit of class though and repelled boarders without too much difficulty seeing the match out with no additions to the score line.

Looking at the other results, although Cobham were the only Div One side to actually beat a Premier club, a few others went close, including Banstead who were defeated by the narrowest of margins by our next opponents in this competition, Epsom & Ewell, who went through on penalties (7-6) after a 1-1 draw after extra time.

Ashford’s Under-18 side are back in action tonight (Wednesday) when they travel to meet Wealdstone in the Ryman Youth League, kicking off at 7.30 p.m.  They have already drawn with Wealdstone this season at home, four apiece, after surrendering a 4-1 lead.  Whether young Herdman will be up for it again tonight after leaving the field looking exhausted in the last few minutes last night remains to be seen!

It’s back to the League on Saturday with the short trip to Bedfont Sports and there will be more on that one later in the week.

Ashford Ladies extended their lead at the top of Division 3 South with a 5-0 victory over Hammersmith Starz.

Hammersmith, with a new look squad, had the better of the early chances with wave after wave of attacks at the Ashford goal however it was Ashley Cheatley who capped off a well worked goal after brilliant work from Irisha Smith on the wing.

Hammersmith again went close shortly after, however came up against a resilient Lauren Restel who was determined to keep her fourth clean sheet of the season.

It was also an assist from Restel which saw Lavana Neufville beat the offside trap and finish at the second time of asking after the ball rebounded off the goalkeeper into her path.

The halftime whistle then blew and it was a relief for Ashford who needed to regroup which is what they did in the very one sided second half.

Smith got her reward after tireless work on the wing, new signing Charmaine Benham capped her debut with a goal just before the hour mark and Smith made it five for Ashford at the death.

Hammersmith proved a challenging outfit for Ashford, and could have seen them take something out of this game on another day.

Ashford proved the quality outfit they are and made a real statement of intent as to where they want to end this season and begin the next.

 

 

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

 

FC Hatton 10.30

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

Conor U-15s v Esher Colts 10am

 

Ben U15s v Celtic – County Cup 11.30

 

Joe U17s v Oxshott Royals 1.30

Ashford Sports Club – 9 – 9 Pitch

Larry U12s v Kew Association 11am

 

Ashford Town 5 – 5 Pitch

 

Matt U8s v Hampton Youth 11am

 

 

Ashford Town 7 – 7 Pitch

 

Nelson U10s v Spelthorne Sports 10.30

 

Matt U9s v Raynes Park 11.30

 

 

Ashford Town – Outfield

 

Gary v Hanworth Sports 10.30

 

Marco U15s v Rushmoor Saints 12.30

Ashford Town Stadium

 

No Fixture

Away Games

 

Tommy U7s v Kingstonian

 

Andy U8s v Claygate

 

Craig U13s v Kew Park Rangers

 

Fin U13s v Hampton – County Cup

 

Martin U14s v Victoria

 

Tim U16s v Doverhouse Lions

 

Carl U17s v Horsley

 

Ladies v Colne Valley

No Games

 

Billy U7s

 

Graham U10s

 

 

Ashford Town Sunday team started the season with a 2-0 defeat at home to Park Royals in the Cup, followed by a 1-1 draw away against VOS in their first league game of the season.

On Sunday, they hosted AFC Grove in their first home league game of the campaign. Ashford Town, fielding several league debutants, started the match brightly and went ahead thanks to a 7th minute goal from Levi Jefford from close range. Ashford continued on the front foot and were awarded a penalty midway through the first half when Jefford was fouled 8 yards out just as he was about to shoot. Jefford took the penalty himself but his effort was saved by the keeper low to his right. Despite missing that great chance to double the lead, Ashford stayed in full control of the match and were creating chance after chance, only to be denied on several occasions by the AFC Grove keeper. In the 43rd minute, the visitors equalised against the run of play when the striker was played through and finished the chance nicely, which meant the half-time score was 1-1.

The second half started in the same fashion with Ashford well on top and scored 3 goals within 10 minutes to take a 4-1 lead. Firstly, James Cartwright scored with a powerful strike from 20 yards out before scoring again from even further out with an audacious effort which caught the keeper off his line, just 4 minutes later. He then turned provider with an excellent cross from the right which was headed in from 8 yards out by Will Haskins. This 10 minute spell effectively killed the game off and Ashford were now in total dominance. Jefford scored his second of the game in the 69th minute with a strong left-footed shot from just outside the area, before first-half substitute Jordan Smither made it 6-1 in the 75th minute. A minute later, it was 7-1 as centre-back Grant Kelly powered his way through the AFC Grove defence before latching onto a precise pass from Kelvin Karanja and sliding the ball underneath the keeper. It’s fair to say that, at this point, Ashford took their foot off the gas and conceded two sloppy late goals in the 78th and 81st minutes, but still ran out convincing 7-3 winners to register their first win of the season.

Man of the match: James Cartwright

 

It’s another little break from the League on Tuesday evening as Ashford entertain Epsom Athletic from Division One in the 2nd Round of the Cherry Red Records Premier Challenge Cup.  It is understood that the draw for the 3rd Round of the Competition will be made tonight and published on Wednesday morning when all the 2nd Round ties have been completed.

Epsom Athletic were promoted from the Surrey Elite League in time for the 2013-2013 season and in their first two campaigns finished in 9th and 6th place respectively.  They endured something of a slump last season finishing just one off the bottom in 15th place but have been doing better this time round with some notable victories, including scoring five goals in home games on no less than three occasions, against Ash United, Staines Lammas and Farleigh Rovers.   On the other side of the coin they also suffered a 1-8 defeat at the hands of Bedfont & Feltham.  In general terms they started the season well, with three wins out of four but have now lost their last four matches.

Ashford know better than to under-estimate anyone and manager Ben Murray has already stated that he will be fielding a very strong side, although youngster Harry Herdman may get the chance to add to his 1st Team experience.  It is worth bearing in mind that League Cup matches in the CCL are taken more seriously than maybe in other some other leagues and that realistically this competition represents Ashford’s best chance of actually winning a cup.

All the remaining ties are being played tomorrow evening as well, the highlight possibly being Hartley Wintney at home to Horley Town, which in crude terms will get rid of one of the big hitters in the competition.  There are plenty of other intriguing ties though, including AFC Hayes at home to Raynes Park Vale and Badshot Lea at home to Spelthorne.  Eversley & California, now top of Division One go to Camberley.

All the junior results and those from the Ladies and the Sunday side are now in and there will be a compilation on the web site tomorrow along with next week's fixtures.

With Ricky Farnden unavailable, Ashford were delighted to see Lewis Taylor back in defence, partnering George Marks against Raynes Park Vale on Saturday.  Up front Bradley Wainwright was given another opportunity to make his mark with Dan Fleming kept in reserve on the bench, along with Russell Canderton and Scott Weight

The game started with a bang, with no less than three goals in the first eight minutes.  The visitors got the show on the road with just three minutes on the clock with the Ashford defence seemingly frozen.  It took just two minutes though for the Tangerines to level with Wainwright being barged off the ball to give the referee an easy decision to award a penalty.  Up stepped Alex Fisher who duly scored to make it his second from the spot in as many matches.

Three minutes after that Samad Kazi was in the right place to make it 2-1 and when Jack Beadle made it 3-1 with barely twenty minutes on the clock, Ashford supporters settled down in the anticipation of a goal fest.  The match though lost its intensity to a degree and the visitors showed why they are in 6th place at times as they mounted some attacks of their own, hitting the woodwork twice and seeing Tyler Tobin making two good stops.  Overall though, Ashford remained in the ascendancy and both Wainwright and Kazi missed opportunities to increase the lead.

The second half did not have the excitement that the early stages of the first half had provided and the game seemed to be just meandering along.  With an hour on the clock though, Ashford were jolted out of their complacency when Callum Forbes drew his side back into the match with a second goal for the visitors.

Ashford remained calm though and restored the two goal margin, arguably with the goal of the match, when Tommy Brunton hit a rocket with his right foot to give the keeper no chance and that was it.  Young sub Harry Herdman came on showing some nice touches and he may well get more 1st Team exposure as the season progresses.

There were no further goals and whilst the victory suggested that Ashford are now just about back on form, there was a lingering feeling that the margin of victory could have been higher.  Samad Kazi was voted by supporters as “Ashford Man of the Match” although there was more than one contender

There is another home game on Tuesday evening when Ashford will meet Epsom Athletic from Division One for the first time ever, in the 2nd Round of the Cherry Red Records Premier Challenge Cup, kick-off 7.45 p.m.  More on that one and news on the Ladies tomorrow.

Ashford welcome 7th placed Raynes Park Vale to Short Lane on Saturday, kick-off 3.00 p.m. and will be glad to be back at home after four consecutive away matches.

Vale are never easy opposition to play and last season, honours were shared between the sides with Ashford winning at home by 2 goals to 1 but losing at Raynes Park Vale by 3 goals to 1, in arguably Ashford’s worst performance of the season.

Whilst not at their absolute best, Ashford returned to winning ways on Tuesday at Colliers Wood to go back to the top of the table, whilst Raynes Park Vale enjoyed a good win at Chessington & Hook by 4 goals to 2.  Prior to that they lost 3-5 at Guildford City.

Of the clubs around us, Hartley Wintney will fall further back in their league fixtures as they travel to Eastbourne Borough in the FA Cup, Epsom are without a match as they were due to play Hartley, whilst Camberley are away to Knaphill.  Hanworth Villa are away to Farnham whilst Horley who ran up a 6-0 win over Windsor in midweek, are away to Badshot Lea.

If you fancy watching the England match in good company on Monday evening, the bar will be opening especially from 7.00 p.m., whilst on Tuesday evening we will be entertaining new opposition in the shape of Epsom Athletic from Division One in the 2nd Round of the League Cup, known as the Cherry Red Records Premier Challenge Cup.  Of all the cups we enter, this is the one in which we have the most realistic chance of silverware and we will obviously be looking to progress.

This was a massive win for the Tangerines after their trials and tribulations of the last 10 days and yet in some ways this was the hardest match of the lot, with Colliers Wood more or less laying siege to the Ashford goal for a full 25 minutes from the start of the second half in a sustained way that none of the three clubs who had won their games against Ashford recently had done.  Ashford’s makeshift defence, with new pairing George Marks and Ricky Farnden at the centre of it, had to work overtime to contain the speedy home forwards.  They were also assisted by some profligate finishing plus a couple or more sparkling saves from Tyler Tobin.

That was of course only for one period of the match and beforehand, an evenly matched first half with some excellent football had seen Ashford get their noses in front when a hurried clearance found its way to Max Webb more or less on the touchline and his deft first time volley from around 25 yards sailed over the keeper and into the net.  There was a touch of good fortune about it indeed in that it was not a particularly poor clearance, but it was an exquisite finish and went a long way to earning Webb the “Ashford Town Man of the Match” award.  It should be mentioned that Colliers Wood had what looked from the other end a fairly good shout for a penalty but this was waived away.

Back to the second half and the pressure from the home side eventually told and they deservedly equalised through Mario Embalo. 

Soon afterwards though came the moment that seemed to change the game.  Ashford were maybe just about starting to claw their way back into the match when there was a clear foul in midfield but the ball had found its way to Jack Beadle in on goal with only the keeper to beat.  The referee started to make a gesture as if to wave play on but inexplicably then blew his whistle to bring play all the way back for a free kick to the visitors.  There was no excuse:  it was a crass error as the advantage was obvious and not a difficult one to apply.  That said, the referee did at least not try to make any excuses, apologising and holding his hands up for the error both at the time and afterwards.

Somehow the perceived injustice seemed to galvanise Ashford and shortly afterwards came the next controversy when the visitors were eventually awarded a penalty for a foul by Colliers’ Will Boye, whose tackle put Samad Kazi on the ground as he advanced on goal.  The referee’s initial reaction was to award a corner but his assistant, who possibly had a clearer view, convinced him it was a penalty and so it was that, in the absence of both Mark Bitmead and Dan Fleming, who was at least on the bench, young Alex Fisher stepped up and scored with the perfect penalty, sending the keeper the wrong way. 

There were still 15 minutes left and once more it was generally even-stevens but there were no further goals and everyone from Ashford knew this had been a hard fought and very welcome three points against yet another excellent side who need only to improve their finishing to be right up there, at least on the basis of this performance.

Every game is a drama at the moment and judging by their 4-2 win at Chalky Lane on Tuesday against Chessington, Saturday’s visitors Raynes Park Vale will provide another stiff test.  On the injury front, there could be a welcome return for Lewis Taylor whilst Jack Beadle played a full 90 last night and Dan Fleming was on the bench, close to fitness, so the injured players are gradually returning, although players who have come in like George Marks and Ricky Farnden, who was close to the Ashford man of the match award himself last night, will ensure that picking a starting eleven is no easy task.

 

Ashford travel to 9th placed Colliers Wood United FC on Wednesday evening, hoping to arrest the mini slide that has seen them lose three away matches in a row, after winning the first eight on the bounce.

The run of defeats has coincided with the loss through injury of crucial players and, whilst not an excuse, it is comforting to know that some of them will be back for this evening’s match, which as a 7.30 p.m. kick-off.

Colliers Wood are a team who try to play good fast football on the floor and on what we expect will be a perfect surface this evening, an excellent match will hopefully be on the cards.  Our opponents sit in 9th place in the table, having won five and lost four of their ten league matches to date.  They lost rather unexpectedly on Saturday at home to Spelthorne Sports but prior to that had won 4-0 at Guildford City.  One player to watch out for is Mario Embalo, who is a proven goal scorer for them over several seasons.

The address of the ground is the Wibbandune Sports Ground, Robin Hood Way (A3), Wimbledon, SW20 0AA.  There is a car park at the ground but it is small so unless you are very early it is probably better to park in the service road on the other side of the main road and walk over the footbridge.

Ashford will play away to Kidlington FC in the 1st Round of the FA Vase on Saturday 31 October.  They are members of the Hellenic League and are from Oxfordshire.

Ashford sustained a further defeat on Saturday losing narrowly at Camberley Town by 2 goals to 1.

Camberley have a distinctive style of play, well known in league circles, which generally involves bombarding their opponents with relentless long high balls.  There has been some criticism of such a style but what is often overlooked is that they play the system to perfection, especially down the hill on their own pitch, with all their players well drilled.  In addition, they also have a goal keeper in Craig Bradshaw, who is not only a fine keeper but arguably Camberley’s best attacker, with his penchant for accuracy and speed of clearance to front runners who know what is coming.  With the addition this season of central defender Chris Ellis they also arguably have the player with the longest throw in the League and that tactic is also used unceasingly.

It all adds up to a hard task for any club coming to Camberley, and whilst they can be beaten, as Horley showed in the first match of the season, it is never easy and Ashford found themselves two down early on from the afore mentioned tactics.  The first goal was of classic simplicity when a huge clearance from Bradshaw went over Max Webb’s head and with Tyler Tobin caught in no-man’s land, Marcus Cousins had an easy chance to score and he made no mistake.

The second goal was even worse from Ashford’s point of view.  A huge throw from Ellis was not properly defended and it was two, with only 20 minutes on the clock.

It was though far from total doom and gloom.  Apart from the goals (admittedly the most important aspect) Ashford actually played some excellent football at times, which may well have seen off lesser opponents.  They were given a lifeline just before the interval when Dan Fleming was fouled in the box and the same player got up to narrowly beat Bradshaw from the spot.

Playing down the slope in the second period, Ashford had reason to believe that they were still very much in the match but whilst they enjoyed the greater amount of possession, they rarely looked penetrative and it is difficult to remember Bradshaw having a serious save to make.  Camberley were generally happy to protect their lead.

Whilst injuries are part and parcel of football, Ashford have suffered badly just recently and the loss of both regular centre backs and top scorer Mark Bitmead, as well as others, invariably take their toll.  That situation was not helped by both Jack Beadle, victim of a late tackle in the first half by ex-Ashford player Dale Webb, and Dan Fleming having to limp off in the second half.  Both will hopefully be fit for Wednesday’s match at Colliers Wood.

The players who came in should not be blamed.  Indeed George Marks playing for the first time since August did well enough to be voted “Ashford Man of the Match” , whilst Bradley Wainwright also looked lively when he came on.  Against clubs such as Camberley though, Ashford do look as if they need a little more brawn in the side.  They have the brains.

It will sound like a broken record but yet again Ashford, and probably Camberley, were not over happy with the referee’s performance.  None of the three officials managed to spot Webb’s foul, arguably the worst in a match that was hard but never dirty but more annoyingly, after not taking anyone’s name in the first half, he proceeded to punish what seemed like every tackle in the second half, with a yellow card.  Ashford ended up with five (that’s another £50) and Camberley four.  Some of the cautions seemed to take forever as well to the frustration of all.  That said, some of the cautions in recent matches for Ashford were avoidable and we don’t need suspensions which only add to the problems.

It’s gone now and having completed matches at arguably the two most difficult grounds to go to at the moment, Ashford can look to push on, starting on Wednesday evening with a trip to Colliers Wood United.  Once again the kick-off time is 7.30 p.m.  Colliers Wood are a very different side from both Camberley and Hartley Wintney but they have some very speedy players and it will be another tough match, as they all are, of course.  A preview will appear tomorrow.

Other news comes from the Ladies’ side, who knocked in no less than 16 goals without replay against Old Actonians on Sunday.  They have now scored an incredible 62 goals in winning their opening five league matches but will have their toughest test so far next Sunday when they travel to play Hammersmith Starz, at Barn Elms.  They have also won their opening four league matches.  You can read a full report of yesterday’s Ladies game at http://ashfordtownmiddlesexladies.com/2015/10/05/ashford-ladies-maintain-their-winning-start/

British Airways ended up on the losing side on Saturday when they were knocked out of the Middlesex Intermediate Cup, losing 2-3 at home to Kensington Dragons.

Finally, please note that this week’s Ryman Youth League match at home to Bedfont Sports is off, as Bedfont have an FA Youth Cup match.  Their next match is now Wednesday 14 October, when they travel to play Wealdstone U18’s.

As soon as we have the draw for the 1st Round Proper of the FA Vase, due any time now, it will be put on the web site.

 

Whether it is a lack of stamina or a failure of concentration, Ashford’s young Under-18 side lost again on Wednesday evening by two goals to three at home to Camberley Town, after twice being in the lead.

The writer has no information concerning the scorers for either team unfortunately but overall it was an excellent match well contested by two sides who both played some very good football at times.  Ashford went ahead early on, Camberley equalised soon afterwards leaving Ashford to re-take the lead immediately after half-time, only for Camberley to equalise again and then notch the winner near the end.

To anyone who wasn’t there, it will sound like a rant but Ashford were the victims of two incredibly poor refereeing decisions, one in each half and identical in nature.  On each occasion as Ashford broke forward with the goal seemingly at their mercy, the referee pulled play back, not once but twice, so that he could give a free kick to Ashford and caution the offender in each case.  They were not difficult advantages to play.

He said afterwards that he thought the fouls were serious enough to halt play immediately.  They weren’t and it was awful refereeing, although it should be said that he controlled the match well apart from these two incidents.  With all the money that goes into assessing schemes, mentoring, etc., one wonders if it is worth the effort when you see such serious errors of judgement, but it’s done now.

The Under-18’s have another home match next Wednesday when they will be at home to Bedfont Sports in the 1st Round of the Lucas-Fettes Cup, kick-off 7.45 p.m.

Would anyone like to write the summaries for the U18 matches, maybe even a player, even if it's no more than recording the names of the scorers and times of goals for web site reports? 

 

A nightmare journey, thanks to grid lock on the A30, and with Hartley Wintney in less than understanding mood concerning any possibility of a delayed kick-off, Ashford found their pre-match preparations hindered to say the least.

In the end the match kicked off barely late in front of the home side’s new influx of supporters and the first half was an even, bruising affair that led more than one person to wonder if the match would finish with 22 players on the field.  The worst incident was a lunging tackle from Mark Bitmead that rightly saw him cautioned.  The referee then missed not one but two blatant retaliatory kicks on Bitmead that should have seen the offender dismissed.  The assistant referee clearly saw what happened but decided to stay mute.

By half-time, the home side had hit the top of the crossbar twice, whilst Ashford saw a snap effort come off the post and be diverted to safety by a defender.

The war of attrition lessened to a degree in the second period and it was starting to look as if the first team to break the deadlock would put themselves in with a good chance of winning the match.  So it proved with Hartley scoring the first goal from a good finish by Ross Cook.

Ashford’s reaction was disappointing as they started to go long too often which played into the hands of the well drilled home defence.  As a result they rarely looked as if they would get back into the match, especially with Bitmead off the field, injured.   A second goal clinched the points for Hartley Wintney albeit that the referee had suddenly decided that Scott Weight had a drop of blood on him and controversially made Ashford’s tallest defender go off for the corner kick that led to the goal.  He hadn’t worried about it at any previous time in the half.  We managed to play football for 100 years or more without anyone dying from Aids or anything similar and this present day requirement can be so frustrating, especially when, as in this case, it came from a stray elbow in the first place.

Quite frankly though, the second goal, despite the individual circumstances, only underlined the stranglehold that Hartley Wintney had managed to secure on the match by this time and overall they deserved the three points.  That said, there were some good individual performances from Ashford and this writer would pick out Joe Robson who dealt with a tricky winger very well, and Samad Kazi who was determination personified throughout.

If Ashford had cause to complain about the assault on Bitmead, it could also be said that keeper Tyler Tobin was fortunate to stay on the pitch when he clattered a Hartley forward as he raced out.  It was just outside the area and with the attacker driven wide, it could not be said to be a clear goal scoring opportunity but the force of the collision could have seen him sent off for violent conduct.  As it was, the referee contented himself with a yellow card.

Ashford will look forward to the return match in March.  Let’s hope the visitors are not late.

The day’s highest attendance in the CCL saw Ashford score another three goals and secure a further three points as they beat a resolute Mole Valley side by three goals to one.

Ashford were not at their best until the latter stages of the match and were stung when the visitors took the lead from the spot just on the half-hour mark.  It was given away in a penalty area scramble by skipper Russell Canderton, who agreed afterwards that the ball did hit his hand but it was one of those where it could hardly be said to be deliberate, as the law demands, and will have to be put in the “harsh” category.  Valley’s Liam Holden gave Tyler Tobin no chance.  To add insult to injury, Canderton was cautioned over the incident.

As so often happens it wasn’t too long before matters were evened up when Ashford were awarded a penalty of their own when Mark Bitmead was impeded and he made no mistake.

The second half still did not find Ashford playing at their full capacity for which credit to some extent must go to the dogged approach of the visitors but after seeing two more efforts hitting the woodwork and rebounding to safety, which has now happened something like a dozen times this season, Ashford were enjoying greater possession and it finally told in the 75th minute, although the goal was controversial.

Valley had conceded an unnecessary free kick out on their own right flank and Bitmead swung the ball inhigh towards the keeper.  He though misjudged it and although he managed to touch it on to the bar it dropped behind him before being cleared, but not before crossing the line according to the assistant referee.  It must have been a very close matter and maybe represents the sort of luck that Ashford never once seemed to get last season when they were at the foot of the table.

Valley protests were in vain though and just three minutes later there was no argument about Ashford’s third goal, which came from “Ashford man of the match” Jack Mullan.  A bullet header from a corner was without doubt the goal of the game and was enough to see Ashford through yet again.

New signing from Hanworth Villa, Philip Osuhar came on near the end for his debut and Ashford will be in good heart as they prepare for next Saturday’s 1st Round FA Vase tie at home to Sussex League side Loxwood.  There will be more on that one during the week, although it should be noted that if the scores are level after extra time the replay will be on the unusual night of Thursday 6 November.

Ashford were also aggrieved at a soft caution for Samad Kazi near the end but in a match that saw very few bad fouls, Mole Valley had more cause to be upset with referee Desai who managed to put six of their team in his notebook, which will undeservedly cost them an FA fine for so called multi-player misconduct, which really was not the case at all.

Other results yesterday were mixed as always but another defeat for Spelthorne at Farnham Town (1-2) saw them lose ground whilst Guildford City finally got their act together winning unexpectedly at Molesey by three goals to two, after being three up.  Ex-Ashford player Matt Baxter saw red for Molesey, with a Guildford player also leaving the field.  Cove scraped through 2-1 against Horley, as did Camberley at home to Epsom & Ewell (1-0) whilst Windsor were this week’s “odd man out” without a match.

There is no midweek match for Ashford this week but the Under-18’s will travel to Frimley Green on Tuesday evening for a Ryman Youth League match.

Finally it is good to see some consistency within the squad with a far lower turn over of players than in recent times.  To illustrate the point, Tyler Tobin, Conor Moody and Tom Brunton have all now passed the 50 match mark, whilst Samad Kazi is now over 100.  They all have a long way to go to beat Russell Canderton’s 529 whilst behind him are Mark Bitmead with 164 and Jack Mullan on 140.

 

It’s back to the League on Saturday as Ashford welcome visitors Mole Valley SCR for their first ever competitive match at Short Lane, kick-off 3.00 p.m.

Last season Mole Valley flirted dangerously with relegation and needed a point from their final match of the campaign, at home to Horley, to maintain their Premier Division status.  By an amazing co-incidence, Horley also needed just a point, a draw being good enough to keep both teams up, leaving Ash United in the final relegation position.  The League and Ash were present at the match to ensure fair play but there was no need as both teams went for the win, hell for leather and in the end a remarkable match, in which the initiative swung from one to the other, finally finished in a 4-4 draw.

This season our visitors have done far better and will arrive today in 9th place in the table with five wins and five defeats from their fourteen league matches to date.  Their best result in terms of goals alone, has been a 4-0 home win over Westfield, and their worst a 0-6 defeat at Windsor.  They experienced a hiccup on Tuesday evening, slipping to a 2-5 defeat at home to Horley.

For Ashford, it would seem that Ben Murray has an almost complete squad from which to pick his side, including possibly a new player, and inevitably, no matter who he selects, the team should be full of confidence, having hit four goals last Saturday at Epsom & Ewell and then another four against a strong Spartan S. Midlands side in Harefield United on Tuesday.  Indeed we have hit three goals or more in all but one of the last ten matches which takes some doing and  is a great credit to all the players not just the forwards.

Other matches on Saturday include Molesey at home to Guildford City, Cove at home to Horley and Camberley at home to Epsom & Ewell and it will be a surprise if any of our main challengers drop points this week.  Spelthorne are away to Farnham Town, who have shown signs of improvement lately whilst Windsor are this Saturday’s “odd man out” without a game.

Ashford’s next match is, of course, the FA Vase clash against Loxwood next Saturday but we can start to contemplate that one next week.

Our very young U18 side is getting closer to their first win, losing 2-3 to Chertsey on Wednesday evening, the visitors scoring the decisive goal in the 90th minute.

It took 120 minutes of often pulsating football to separate two teams both flying high in their respective leagues but in the end Ashford came out on top, scoring three goals in extra time to win this 1st Round Middlesex Senior Cup tie by four goals to one.

Ben Murray continues to rotate his squad with finesse and this time Ryan Dearden and Tom Hill took the full back positions.  Kieran Wright came back in to partner Russell Canderton at the back, with Jack Mullan having a rest from the bench.  Ashford were without  Elliott Jones, Joe Hughes and Rob Curtis, who took a knock on Saturday, but the latter two will hopefully be back raring to go on Saturday.  Elliott is now just 2-3 weeks away from returning.

The start was delayed due to referee Cresswell deciding at the last moment that Harefield’s white shirts clashed with Ashford’s tangerine and white stripes, not, for what it’s worth, an opinion shared by this writer.  Harefield did not have a second strip with them so Ashford were obliged to wear their alternative colours.

The match was fast and sometimes furious from the start with Harefield looking strong, with the stiff breeze, although hardly a hurricane, behind them.  Their long ball game allied with some fast front runners caused Ashford’s generally mean defence a few  problems and it was indeed the visitors who drew first blood on 15 minutes when a looping header found the top corner of the net.

Referee Cresswell, quick to caution Mark Bitmead and an opponent for overdoing the banter, then angered the Ashford bench by arguably not dealing properly in home eyes with a dangerous looking two footed tackle on Bitmead that left the Ashford man needing considerable treatment.  It merited just a yellow in the referee’s eyes.

Generally though both sides kept playing football and, following the turn round it was Ashford who benefited from the elements.   Nevertheless it took a long time to break the visitors down but finally, with just under 20 minutes left, it was Dan Fleming  who was slipped in and he made no mistake from close range.

Mr. Cresswell had only added just over two minutes in the first period despite several stoppages but seemed to want the match settled over 90 minutes as he added on more than six minutes in the second period.  It was to no avail though and extra time commenced.  Conor Moody then made the break through that Ashford had been threatening and, as so often happens in extra time, further goals followed.  Moody made it 3-1 with a blistering effort and just three minutes later Fleming made it safe as the referee played a good advantage, to make the final score 4-1.

It was CCL 2 Spartan League nil on the night as Bedfont Sports saw off the challenge of Hillingdon Borough just down the road, and Bedfont will now visit Ashford in the next round, which incidentally will necessitate the postponement of Ashford’s scheduled league clash at Chertsey Town on Tuesday 11 November.

In the League there were two interesting matches.  Windsor, who knocked seven past Chertsey last week, won by four goals to nil at Hartley Wintney, whilst Saturday’s opponents Mole Valley SCR surprisingly lost 2-5 at home to Horley Town.

There is another match at Short Lane this evening, when Ashford U18’s take on Chertsey U18’s in the Ryman Youth League, kick-off 7.45 p.m.

Finally, a word for groundsmen Steve Honey and Liam Balmer.  Ashford’s pitch has been improving week by week and last night it would be fair to describe it as absolutely immaculate, and surely appreciated by the players.  Thank you Steve and Liam for your hard work.

Ashford will entertain Harefield United from the Spartan South Midlands League on Tuesday evening in the 1st Round of the Middlesex Senior Cup, the prize for the winners being a home tie against either Bedfont Sports or Hillingdon Borough who also play on Tuesday.

Over the years we have only met Harefield on four occasions all in either the Senior Cup or the Charity Cup.  The most recent meeting was last season in the 3rd Round of this competition, when we contrived to throw away a one goal lead in the final minutes, the final result being a 2-1 win for the visitors.  Perhaps the match that stands out in the memory was the one in 2006 when an exciting match in the Senior Cup saw a 3-3 draw after extra time (Ashford scorers Matt Baxter 2, Darren Deegan) with Ashford finally winning 7-6 on penalties, although the shoot-out was not without its controversies.

Harefield currently sit in 6th position in their table with 24 points from 13 matches.  On Saturday they needed a late goal to rescue a point in a 2-2 draw at Hoddesdon and prior to that they beat London Colney by two goals to one, a week after sustaining quite a heavy defeat against one of the title favourites Colney Heath by four goals to nil.

We have not given too much publicity to Gary Tomany’s Sunday side this season.  They are now playing in Division 2 of the West Middlesex Sunday League and have started well in the division with two league wins from three games, the most recent being a 7-4 home win against Bedfont Sunday, with Tom Chaffey scoring four of them.  Unfortunately they could not maintain that form yesterday, losing by seven goals to two against the eloquently named Load of Gold FC.  Next Sunday the lads have another cup competition when they will play away to AFC Feltham Sunday in the 1st Round of the Keel Cup, kick-off 1.30 p.m. according to the Mittoo website.

It looked a tricky encounter on paper and home side Epsom & Ewell certainly made it harder for Ashford than many of the teams they have played this season but in the end, the Tangerines came away with a 4-2 victory, taking their chances clinically when the opportunity arose.  There was no doubt as to the Ashford “Man of the Match” in the returning shape of Dan Fleming, who showed how much he had been missed whilst injured, notching his first competitive hatrick for the club, with the ever reliable Mark Bitmead getting the other.

Ashford were still without Elliott Jones so Joe Green made only his second 1st team start at right back, whilst power house Max Webb also returned to the starting line-up.

After a fairly uneventful opening period, Ashford opened the scoring on 15 minutes when Fleming charged down a clearance and re-acted swiftly to neatly plant the ball past the lumbering Michael Eacott in the home goal.  Ashford supporters, present in good numbers, relaxed as the Tangerines seemed to have gained the whip hand but credit to the home side who fought back and equalised on 39 minutes when everyone seemed to stop, leaving Tyler Tobin to race out of his goal but he was never going to make it and a low cross saw Jack Mullan putting the ball into his own net.

Instead of building upon the goal though, Epsom then pressed the suicide button conceding two further goals in the few minutes that remained before half-time.  The first was largely due to a strong run by Conor Moody, on as sub for the injured Rob Curtis.  Two or three attempts to knock him off the ball failed and a perfect ball out wide to Fleming saw the latter slip it across to Bitmead who made no mistake.  From an attacking point of view, it was a quality goal.  Two minutes later it was Fleming once again, who left Eacott floundering, to give Ashford a comfortable two goal cushion at half-time.

Epsom though showed they are made of strong stuff and despite almost conceding again at the re-start, they gradually got on top, and central defenders Russell Canderton and Jack Mullan had to be at their best to stem the tide.  Tobin, superb all afternoon, then had to make the save of the match as Russell Canderton almost emulated his partner in scoring an own goal but eventually the pressure told and with just over 15 minutes left, Epsom’s Ferdinando was first to a cross, glancing the ball home.

Epsom sensed blood but as they pushed forward they were leaving gaps at the back, which was always dangerous given Ashford’s quick fire strikers and Eacott, who had looked very uncertain in the first half, made two flying saves that would otherwise have made the game safe rather earlier for the visitors.

As the game wore on, one sensed that Epsom had given it their best shot but it was still a mighty relief for the Ashford supporters when Fleming hit another quality strike to close the scoring at 4-2 to Ashford.

The pleasure of victory was slightly tarnished right at the death when Conor Moody was though on goal only to be tripped as he went through.  Instead of going down he tried to keep his feet but in going for the ball he caught the keeper who got there just in front of him.  Ashford were amazed to see the referee who otherwise had done well, pull out the red card.  It was very harsh on Moody and with the decision being a free kick to Ashford just outside the box, the visitors were entitled to wonder why the defender who, seconds earlier, had committed the foul, was not red carded himself for preventing a goal scoring opportunity.  At least though, this referee managed to turn up on time, blow the whistle at the right time for half-time and add on an appropriate amount of time at the end, a minute longer incidentally than allowed by last week’s referee at Spelthorne.

News came through that Spelthorne had beaten Cove but all the other challengers won.  Nevertheless Ashford are now just one point behind the Hampshire side, with a match in hand.

There is some fixture news this week.  Firstly the Surrey Senior Cup match away to Woking has been fixed for Tuesday 4 November, which means that the home game against Ash has been put back for a fortnight to Tuesday 18 November.  In the meantime, another busy week looms with the 1st Team playing at home to Spartan S. Midlands side Harefield United on Tuesday evening in the Middlesex Senior Cup.  We lost to them last season in the same competition when two late goals gave them a 2-1 victory after James Awosifan had given us the lead.  Also, there is now a date for the League Cup tie away to Camberley Town, which will be on Tuesday 9 December.

Next Saturday we have a home league match when we will have the pleasure of entertaining Mole Valley SCR for the first time ever in a competitive match.  They have been doing well this season after narrowly avoiding relegation last time round and it is bound to be a difficult encounter but more on that later in the week.

The Under-18’s are also at home this midweek, on Wednesday, when they will play Chertsey Town U18 in a Ryman Youth League match.

 

 

Ashford travel to meet 7th placed Epsom & Ewell on Saturday at their adopted home of Chipstead FC.  It goes without saying that it will be a difficult match as Epsom are certainly one of the clubs with promotion in mind.  They were right up there last season until falling away a little near the end to finish in 3rd position, whilst this season, after a fairly indifferent start, they have hit some form with four wins out of six in recent league matches and they also registered a 2-1 home win over Knaphill in the League Cup on Tuesday.

It is known that Epsom always try to play good football and the generally excellent Chipstead pitch should suit both teams.  The address of the ground is High Road, Chipstead, CR5 3SF.  It’s quite a trek off the A217 along narrow roads but you do get there in the end!

Whether past form can be used as any kind of reliable indicator is very doubtful, which is a shame as we have generally had the better of things, whenever we have met over the years.  The very first meeting, back at their original ground if the writer’s memory serves him well was in the Preliminary Round of the FA Vase in October 1993, when an Andy Smith goal helped us to a 1-1 draw after extra time  For whatever reason, the replay did not take place until 17 October 1993, when once again extra time was required before we managed to go through by three goals to one, scorers Keith Hoad 2 and Michael Scott.

Meetings between the two clubs were fairly sparse after that until the early 2000’s when we met regularly in the Ryman League but in recent times the only two meetings have been in the Surrey Senior Cup, in 2005 and 2009, the latter occasion being the semi-final prior to our victory over Woking in the Final.  It was an even game and the final score of 4-1 in our favour possibly did not reflect the overall play but no-one from Ashford was too concerned, our scorers being Billy Jeffreys, Scott and Warren Harris, and Ricky Wellard, now at Sutton, of course.

The fates have been fairly kind to us in terms of cup draws this season but not so in the 3rd Round of the League Cup (the Cherry Red Records Premier Challenge Cup to give it its full name) as we will travel to Camberley Town, who ousted Molesey on penalties earlier this week, after a nil-nil draw.  There is no date yet nor a new date for the postponed encounter at Chessington & Hook on Tuesday in the S. Comb. Cup

With tonight's match off, don't forget that we have a social evening at the Club on Thursday when Ben Murray and the players will all be present.  Just about every player has now been sponsored, which is absolutely brilliant and this will be an opportunity for sponsors and supporters generally to meet with and mingle with all the players.  Ben will be giving a short summary of how the season has gone and how he sees it panning out.

The evening starts around 8.00 pm at the Club and everyone with an interest in Ashford Town is very welcome to attend, especially our members from the Junior Section.

Please note that this evening's match away to Chessington & Hook is OFF, as their pitch is waterlogged.