In case you aren't aware, the Club is open tomorrow evening for the annual New Year's Party and here is a message from Vice-Chairman, Nick Bailey, with al the details.  Everyone welcome!

Hi all

I hope you all had a brilliant Christmas.

Just to let you all know that we will be having a new year's eve party at the club, we have a DJ booked from 7PM until late.

If you haven't already made your plans, everyone is welcome to attend.

There will be plenty of bar deals on during the night with shots & cocktails on offer.

It would be great if you, your family & friends came along, the more the merrier.

I hope to see you on Saturday night.

Thanks,

Nick.

A fairly even match overall saw Ashford and Egham share the points on Boxing Day in a 1-1 draw, a result that most people thought accurately reflected the game.

The match itself marked skipper Russell Canderton’s 600th 1st Team competitive start for Ashford and supporters from both sides gave him generous applause and quite rightly as this is a terrific record that will certainly not be broken for a long time.

Ashford started well and dominated the very early possession but it didn’t last for too long and it was Egham who went ahead following a poor clearance from goalkeeper Tyler Tobin, back in league action for the first time since falling off a ladder at work several months ago.  Egham’s Jordan Berry, a recent recruit from AFC Hayes, made the most of the error to put his side ahead.  The visitors could have gone further ahead but for some excellent work by Tobin that more than made up for his slip, and, it has to be said, Ashford were grateful tot he woodwork.  Ashford’s best chance in the opening 45 came when Mark Bitmead got through but was unable to generate sufficient power in his shot.

The second half saw Ashford in determined mood and it was Dan Fleming who eventually notched the equaliser from the spot after he had been fouled just inside the area.  Ashford thought they had a second when referee Gill waved play on after a foul by an Egham player, allowing Alex Fisher to play on, crossing the ball to Fleming only for the referee then to bring play back and give the free kick instead as Fleming swept the ball into the net.  It didn’t look like great officiating, albeit an isolated incident, but it was Egham’s turn to be aggrieved later when a very strong penalty appeal was turned down.

As the match entered its dying moments both sides were determined not to let the precious point slip and thus it proved.  The Ashford “Man of the Match” by a close head was Max Webb.

In summary 2016 has been a good year for the Tangerines with promotion being sealed in the summer, followed by a very satisfactory consolidation in the first half of this season, from which we will hope to push on in the second half of the campaign.

A big thank you to all our supporters and we hope to see you at Farnborough on Monday 2 January, kick-off 3.00 p.m.  The next home match for the 1st Team is on Saturday 7 January, when Bedford Town will be making their first ever visit.

Vice Chairman Nick Bailey is planning the New Year’s Eve Celebrations at the Club and there will be more details in the next day or so.

Finally we send our deepest condolences to Fleet Town, whose Chairman Steve Cantle died suddenly on Christmas Eve, necessitating the postponement of the scheduled match between Fleet and Farnborough on Boxing Day.

Ashford won a competitive friendly at home to Guildford City by 4 goals to 1 on Wednesday evening.

The promised rain never arrived and in a fairly brisk first half neither side were able to trouble the scorers.  It was a different matter in the second period as both sides scored within a minute or so of the re-start.  Mark Bitmead put Ashford ahead only for the visitors to equalise following a slip by Tyler Tobin.

Ashford were then awarded a penalty after some doubt as to where the offence had taken place and Dan Fleming put it away.  There were now regular substitutions with Ashford introducing a number of younger players, including Lewis Haldane, who increased the Tangerines’ lead on 80 minutes.  Two minutes later, with Guildford looking as if they’d run out of puff, skipper Russell Canderton scored the final goal.

There were various positives to take from the game for Ashford but an ankle injury to Joe Green has probably made him doubtful for the match at home to Egham on Boxing Day.

Thank you to everyone who took part in the Christmas Draw on Sunday.  Here is the list of winners and prizes can be collected from the club any day from around midday on.

ASHFORD TOWN CHRISTMAS DRAW 2016

PRIZE

NUMBER

PRIZE

WINNER

TICKET NUMBER

01

Bombay Gin

Laura Butler

0266

02

Gordon’s Gin

Alan Cox

2627

03

Jack Daniels

Martin U-15

2916

04

Three Barrels Brandy

Tony Guttridge

4227

05

Case Budweiser

Roger Smart

0842

06

Case Coors Light

Martin U-15

4567

07

Case Fosters

Eddie Ashton, 31 The Avenue, Sunbury

3420

08

Case Real Ale

Tommy Brunton

1302

09

Jacobs Creek Wine (2 bottles)

Mark

1810

10

Bird Secretary wine (2 bottles)

Andy  c/o Alan Cox

2699

11

Vina Aroba wine (2 bottles)

R. Jaynt, 46 Peninsular Close, Bedfont

3685

12

Condorito Wine (2 bottles)

Darryl

0698

13

Prosecco Hamper

Chris Canderton

0429

14

Magnum Prosecco

Mandy Burne, 91 Worple Ave, Staines

2801

15

Magnum Prosecco

P. Playford c/o Geoff Knock

2068

16

Extra Large Turkey

Martin U-15

2960

17

Leg of lamb

Graham Felce

2387

18

Gammon Joint

Martin U-15, Kieran O

4008

19

Beef joint

Eddie

0812

20

Tub Heros Chocs

Brendan Costello

2876

21

Tub Celebration Chocs

Nick Bailey

4155

22

Victoria Biscuits

Chris Canderton

0463

23

Shortbread

Dan Butler

0221

24

Musical Biscuit Barrel

J.Dudley (c/o Sue Cox)   (collected by Liam)

2618

25

Panattone

Celia Munday

3560

26

Chocolate Tree

Martin U-15

4009

27

Biscuits & Toffee Tower

Tyler Tobin

1919

28

Hamper

Pat Munns

1110

29

Pamper Set

Bob Parker

4886

30

Body Lotion

Sandra Brent

2086

31

Gents Body Set

J.Dudley c/o Sue Cox (collected by Liam)

2610

32

Baylis Ladies Gift Set

Rudolf Petruso (c/o Graham Felce)

3674

33

Popcorn maker

Martin U-15

4620

34

Star Wars Toy set

Dave Baker

0167

35

Angry Birds Toy Set

Sally Hurst (c/o Paul U-13)

4194

36

Outdoor Planter

Rinia Sachdlua

2984

37

Biscuit Hamper

Gareth c/o Superior (c/o Graham Felce)

2307

38

Martini Rosso

Darryl

0627

39

Terracotta Serving Pots

Emma Bailey

4047

In what was probably a highly entertaining match for any neutral on Saturday, Ashford conspired to throw away the chance of at least a point in a 3-5 defeat at second place Royston Town.

It could be argued that, on the second half display alone, when Ashford fought back from 1-3 down to equalise and then have two more efforts kicked off the line, not to mention missing a penalty kick, the Tangerines deserved, at the very least a draw but the sobering thought is that if you concede five goals you cannot realistically expect anything other than defeat.

It was a funny old match from the beginning.  The home side started like a train forcing several corners in the opening few minutes, all well taken, and forcing the visitors on to the back foot.  After a number of prolonged attacks, Ashford finally broke clear for the first time and the ball found itself at the feet of leading scorer Mark Bitmead, who had been experiencing a lean run, but the experienced striker never hesitates to shoot and he duly found the corner of the net with a low effort from which Royston keeper Dodge should probably have done better.  He didn’t though and the visitors went ahead.

Royston were affronted and frankly took charge of the remainder of the half, with goals from Bridges and two from Frendo.  On the balance of play the scoreline was probably right although Ashford had always looked dangerous on the occasional breakaway.

At the half-time whistle, few would have expected any other result than a solid victory for the home side but it didn’t quite work out like that as, whatever Ben Murray said to his troops, it was a revitalised Ashford side that set out to recover what seemed a lost cause.  It didn’t go well at first when Bitmead missed a penalty kick after a wallop administered to Dan Fleming which might have brought greater punishment on another day than the sole yellow card of the game issued by referee Nigel Smith.

The thinking immediately after the miss was that any chance we might have had, had disappeared but suddenly it was Ashford controlling the match and on the hour mark, full back Joe Green popped up to reduce the arrears after a goalmouth scramble.  Ashford continued to push and even the most hard bitten of Royston supporters would have found it hard to deny that the Tangerines deserved an equaliser, which duly arrived on 81 minutes, once again courtesy of the free scoring (in this match at least) Green.

Within minutes two more goal line clearances prevented Ashford from taking the lead and it seemed that only one side could win the match.  That is always true of course, but sSadly for Ashford, it was not them but Royston who scored what turned out to be the killer blow with six minutes left on the clock.  Maybe Ashford should have tried to shut up shop after equalising but that is never the Ashford way and at least the effort from Royston’s Orlando-Young deserved to win any game, a fierce swerving effort from distance giving Kav Keadall no chance as it flew into the top corner of the net.  Why the striker wasn’t shut down though is another question.  A cruel fifth goal for Royston in stoppage time, with almost the whole of the Ashford side caught upfield as they made belated efforts to equalise again, resulted in a scoreline that was quite hard to take after the second half efforts but well done to Royston, who will certainly take some shifting from the promotion positions.

On we go though with the next competitive match at home to Egham Town on Boxing Day, which kicks off at 1.00 p.m.  It goes without saying that it will be another tough old match as we know the Sarnies have plenty of talented players but if Ashford can match their second half display on Saturday, who knows.

Before that, Ben Murray has organised a friendly for this Wednesday evening at home to CCL club Guildford City, kick-off 7.45, which will be an opportunity to experiment a little, although it will still be largely a 1st Team side.  Entry is reduced to just £3 (£2 OAP’s, free for children Under-16).

There is also an Under18 match this evening (Monday 19th) with the side taking on Staines Town U18 at Wheatsheaf Lane.

Finally it can be confirmed that Jack Beadle has left and has moved to Egham Town.  Jack played in 153 competitive matches for the club, scoring 44 goals, including 4 this season and we thank him for all his efforts on behalf of Ashford in recent seasons.

Ashford face another longish journey on Saturday when they travel to Royston Town in Hertfordshire.  The journey is one of 66 miles, so a bit less than last week, and the address of the ground is 8A Garden Walk, Royston, Herts, SG8 7HP.  Kick-off is at the usual 3.00 p.m.

Royston currently sit in 2nd position in the table, level on points with and with having matches in hand over leaders Farnborough.  They have recently enjoyed a successful run in the FA Trophy, finally losing at home in a replay on Tuesday evening against Dulwich Hamlet.  Last week they almost won at Dulwich before the home side scored two late goals to level the tie and ultimately take the game to a replay. 

It will obviously be a tough match but Ashford should be more or less at full strength, apart from a couple of longer term injuries and will also be buoyed by the availability of Scott Weight, back from suspension.  Just as importantly, the Tangerines have rather restored confidence over the last two games, banging in nine goals and not one of them from leading scorer Mark Bitmead who rarely goes too many games without a goal.  It is true that last week’s opponents Histon are rooted at the foot of the table but they have not lost too many other than by a solitary goal and despite them giving us a hard match we were generally very good value for the three points.  Despite the recent indifferent spell, hopefully now behind us, we remain the 3rd top scorers in the Division.

Our past record against Royston is less encouraging as over four previous encounters we have only managed two draws and two defeats.  The most recent match was in March 2014 when we drew two apiece at Royson, our goals coming from Scott Weight and Conor Moody.

Following tomorrow’s match, we face an equally tough match on Boxing Day, 26 December, when we entertain neighbours Egham Town at Short Lane, kicking off at 1.00 p.m.  We can hopefully look forward to a sizeable attendance for that one.

Beforehand though, we have the Christmas Draw this Sunday, the 18th, commencing sharp at 3.00 p.m.  There are lots of prizes this year and a big thank you goes to everyone who has been kind enough to donate a prize or two and thank you also of course, to everyone who has bought tickets.

Next Friday, 23 December, is party night when Father Christmas will be around earlier in the evening.  Everyone is welcome.

Finally, as a club, we send our commiserations to ex-Ashford player Andy Smith, who has now lost both mum and dad within a 2-3 weeks of each other.  Arthur, who reached the age of 94, used to be a regular supporter of the club and often used to regale us with tales of his seafaring days.  RIP Mr. & Mrs. Smith, well remembered at Ashford Town.

Ashford emphasised their return to form easing to a 4-1 win away at Histon on Saturday.

The home side, looking extremely young for the most part, were full of enthusiasm and to their credit maintained it throughout the match, even after the destiny of the three points had become clear.  But for better finishing, that enthusiasm could have manifested itself into a goal in the opening stages as Histon took the early initiative but in just about their first meaningful attack on 9 minutes it was Ashford who took the lead.  Playing wide for much of the time, Kam English was Histon’s main tormentor throughout and his pace took him to the bye line from where he cut it back and Dan Fleming managed to squeeze it into the net from a fine angle.

Just seven minutes later Ashford doubled the lead, albeit fortuitous.  The ball found itself to Tommy Brunton (later voted "Ashford man of the match") in midfield who advanced and shot.  It would probably have been comfortable for the keeper but it took a big deflection and ended up in the back of the net.

Histon plugged away and hit the woodwork as they attempted to pull things round but it is fair to say that Ashford were mostly in control and could well have scored again themselves before Bailey Mummery, excellent in midfield throughout, took advantage of another mazy run from English, as he banged in a rebound from close range.

The second half saw Histon fighting hard as they did all afternoon but Ashford were playing some delightful stuff at times and the fourth goal arrived on 67 minutes.  Mark Bitmead was the architect receiving the ball from a defensive error and when it came out again, crossing to English who was on hand to crash home for a very deserved goal.

We then had two fairly bizarre happenings.  Referee  Hart came racing over to the benches in a very purposeful manner, but neither manager was in trouble.  It turned out that an excessively verbal spectator behind the goal had gone too far and issued a threat to one of the assistants and the ref wanted him removed from the ground (the spectator that is, not the assistant).  He was duly escorted out but apparently came back later and then had to be asked to leave the bar after the game.  10 out of 10 for sauce, but Histon said they didn’t know him and he certainly wasn’t amongst the meagre few who travelled with the Tangerines, so it was all a bit of a mystery, especially as he was heard to have a pop at both teams as well as the officials.

Then with ten minutes to go, Kav Keadell in goal for the Tangerines, who had played well on a greasy and fast surface, misjudged a bouncing ball, seemingly leaving the attacker with an open goal but Samad Kazi, with lightning pace, got back and against all odds got in a tackle which saw the ball seemingly deflected for a corner.  Albeit from the stands, it looked a brilliant interception but Mr. Hart saw it differently and awarded a penalty kick which was duly scored by Joe Peacock.  Kazi was shown just a yellow card which was correct under the new law as there was no doubt that he was attempting a tackle, as opposed to deliberately fouling his opponent, but it did seem quite a baffling incident, which should not though take away from the experienced manner in which Mr. Hart refereed the match.

It spoilt Ashford’s clean sheet but otherwise, the Tangerines saw out the last ten minutes safely enough.  Apart from the result it was a good day, despite the incessant rain.  Histon made us very welcome and the ground, fully covered on all four sides, is impressive and superb for this level of football.   We look forward to welcoming their team and officials in the return match on 1 April.

After making us play on a Sunday a few weeks ago, the League has been kind enough to give us our two longest away trips in successive weeks just before Christmas and next Saturday we make a similar trip to the same part of the world to play league leaders Royston Town.  More on that one later except that we need a minibus driver.  Any volunteers please?

There is no midweek match for the 1st Team but on Wednesday the Under-18’s, who have picked up in recent weeks, will play at home against Hampton & Richmond Borough U18, kick-off 7.45 p.m.

Finally today, well done to all four (I think) of our junior sides competing in the later rounds of the various Middlesex County Cups, with all four winning their matches.

 

Ashford will break new ground on Saturday with their first ever visit to Histon FC, who play at the Glassworld Stadium, Bridge Road, Impington, Cambridge, CB24 9PH.  It will be the longest league journey of the season at around 82 miles, via the M25 (north), A1M, A505, M11 and then A414.  Kick-off is 3.00 p.m.

Histon rose to become members of the National Conference in time for the 2007-08 season and finished in 7th place in their first season at that level and then bettered it the following season with a 3rd placed finish.  Since then though they have slipped and find themselves competing at this level for the first time in many years following their relegation from the Premier Division of the Southern League last season.  They have not endured a great time this season, last winning in the League on 5 November but the win was notable, being a 6-2 victory at Barton, with five goals in the last 20 minutes.  The defeats since then though have all been by a solitary goal bar one whilst our League form, of course, has been equally poor in recent weeks.

In Wednesday's win we came close to reproducing our early season form though and Ben Murray, hopefully fortified by the return to the squad of Russell Canderton from suspension and Max Webb from injury, will look for that form to continue.  Histon will doubtless see the match as one they can win and it will probably be a close affair.

If selected, the game, incidentally will mark Russell's 599th 1st Team competitive start, with hopefully the big 600 to come at Royston next week.

 

For those who used the M25/M40/A40 route to reach Hanwell Town last night, where Southall play, it was a nightmare journey that took 2 hours to complete, despite the clubs being only 15 miles apart.  It was little better on the return journey, with a nasty looking accident reducing the A40 to a single lane at one point, resulting in a massive traffic jam.  Possibly a small price to pay if someone lost their life in what looked a very serious incident, so let’s hope that wasn’t the case.

From an Ashford perspective, the journey was worth it as the Tangerines played some excellent football in a 5-2 victory over Spartan S. Midlands side Southall.  That may be looked upon as nothing less than expected, given the current status of both clubs, but with Ashford’s recent poor form plus the fact that Southall are a very decent side and still going strong in the FA Vase, it was enough to re-build confidence and put Ashford in much finer fettle for the trip to Histon on Saturday.

The game could not have started any better for Murray’s men:  within the first 8 minutes Ashford were two up and seemingly coasting.  The first came on 7 minutes when the excellent Dan Fleming converted a low cross and then, a minute later, the second when Kam English generally giving his full back a torrid time, smashed in a shot that gave the keeper no chance.

The third goal arrived on 27 minutes and it rivalled the previous one for “goal of the game”.  A flowing movement down the left flank saw Fleming once again in the right place to make it count.

At this stage Southall had hardly been in the match but they did not lay down and some of their football was equally admirable.  It still came as a bit of a shock though when they quickly pulled one back before half-time and then another just six minutes into the second period.

On a nigh perfect surface for this time of the year and with perfect playing conditions, Ashford controlled the situation well on this occasion and eventually clinched the game when Fleming hammered in the fourth goal and Alex Fisher then popped up with the 5th very soon afterwards.

Southall’s Adam Louth was perhaps fortunate to escape with any sanction when he seemed to punch Harry Herdman in a clash before half-time but following the spate of bookings in Ashford’s two previous matches, it was possibly a relief that the match was controlled by referee Marvin Thompson, who did not once reach for his book, even when he possibly should have done so.  Mr. Thompson, incidentally was refereeing Ashford for the first time since 2008.

Apart from the result, there were other clear positives for Ashford, not least the return to action of goalkeeper Tyler Tobin after three months out.  Young Harry Herdman, stepping up from the Under-18’s, looked a far stronger player than last season and certainly did himself no harm with his performance whilst there was also a very encouraging display from the sub’s bench of debutant Arlan Kadima.

There will be more on the trip to Histon tomorrow but with Max Webb expected to be fit enough to return and no obvious injuries last night, Murray will have almost a full squad from which to select his side.

The Under-18’s, under the control of Nick Bailey, with manager Will Boye engaged with the 1st Team, emphasised their recent improvement with a 6-2 victory at home to Northwood U18 in the Ryman Youth League.  A good night all round!

 

The Clubhouse and Bar will be open at the Club over the holiday period as follows:

CHRISTMAS EVE, 24 DEC                     Midday – 11.00 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY, 25 DEC                    11.00 a.m. – 3.00 p.m.

BOXING DAY, 26 DEC                           10.30 a.m. – 10.30 p.m.  (Match v Egham, 1.30 p.m.)

TUE 27 DEC                                            Midday – 11.00 p.m.

WED 28 DEC                                          Midday – 11.00 p.m.

THU 29 DEC                                           Midday – 11.00 p.m.

FRI 30 DEC                                             Midday – 11.00 p.m.

SAT 31 DEC                                            Midday – late (New Years Eve party)

SUN 1 JAN                                              Midday – 5.00 p.m.

MON 2 JAN on                                      Normal hours resume                                                        

It was another very busy and largely successful Sunday for our various Junior sides and here are all the results:

Michael U7s 12-0 Woking

Matt U9s 2-1 Sheen Lions

Rhys U9s 5-0 Hampton

Ryan U9s 0-2 Old Isworthians

Matt U10s 3-1 Kew Park

Joe U12s 1-2 South Park

Larry U13s 4-2 Esher Royals

John U13s 6-4 Carshalton

Paul U13s 4-1 Sutton

Craig U14s 1-1 Kew Park Rangers

Fin U14s 4-3 Corinthians

Martin U15s 6-0 Oxshott

Ben U16s 4-3 Sheen Lions

Simon U16s 2-6 NPL

 The Ladies drew one apiece with Colne Valley but remain at the top of the Division 2 South table of the Greater London Women’s League, one point clear of Carshalton Athletic Dev and Crystal Palace Dev, but with one and three matches in hand respectively.

Firstly an update upon fixtures:

The midweek match this week, which was to be played at home against Southall in the Middlesex Charity Cup on Tuesday evening has been switched to Southall’s adopted home at Hanwell Town and will be played on Wednesday.  Southall were drawn at home in the first place but the switch has come because apparently they are also playing in their League on Tuesday evening.  It all seems a bit odd but our match is definitely on Wednesday evening, kick-off 7.45 p.m. at Hanwell Town, with the winners drawn away to North Greenford United.

Next, the kick-off time for the home match against Egham on Boxing Day has been brought forward to 1.00 p.m. by mutual agreement, whilst the new date for the Marlow match, postponed last week due to a frozen pitch, is Tuesday 10 January, at Marlow, kick-off 7.45 p.m.

Back to Saturday and sadly the recent poor run went on in the cruellest of ways, with Beaconsfield snatching the winner in the 6th minute of stoppage time from the penalty spot.  It is hard to understand why we have suddenly lost form.  Earlier in the season we played some of the best football an Ashford team has played for a long time but right now we are plagued by poor finishing, poor defending and on Saturday, by poor discipline.

Beaconsfield had suddenly found some form coming into the match with two solid wins behind them but nevertheless Ashford started well and had three reasonable chances within the opening five minutes which, had any been taken, would have put a different complexion on the match.  None were though and the match evened out.  Ashford still had more of it and all looked well when Kam English raced in to meet a superb cross from Mark Bitmead to open the scoring on the stroke of half-time.

Sadly Ashford were unable to hold on to the lead for more than five minutes as SYCOB equalised very quickly in the second period when Jack McKnight was allowed the time to shoot past Kav Keadell.

After that the visitors improved significantly in the possession stakes as Ashford seemed to sit back.  In a match that was devoid of any nasty stuff, referee Gill managed to take six names and there was then a curious moment when Scott Weight committed one foul too many and was sent off for persistent infringement.  The foul itself was not worthy of any disciplinary action but Mr. Gill had been quick with the cards all afternoon  and in that sense he was consistent.  Before play could re-start though, with both sides lining up for the free kick, a Beaconsfield player kicked an Ashford defender.  There was probably a reason why he did so but you can’t blatantly kick out and he joined his fellow miscreant in the dressing room.

A few minutes later with Ashford defending desperately to hold on to at least the one point, Will Boye then gave away the foul for a penalty smashed home by Beaconsfield’s Callum Bunting, to signal another bad day.

The squad is mostly the same as when we were winning and looking good.  Confidence has obviously dropped for no good reason and we now need the squad and management to work hard to turn matters round, starting on Wednesday. One win and it will all come flooding back.  We also need our supporters to help.  It is frustrating when things go wrong but there is no lack of effort and the lads need your support to help us get through this annoying little period, which all clubs suffer from time to time.

On a superbly prepared surface at Short Lane, and looking at the match over the full 90 minutes, there was little doubt that Ashford deserved to take all three points, despite the apparent closeness of the 2-1 scoreline.  In fact, the match was hugely one-sided in terms of possession until the last 15 minutes when Windsor suddenly came alive and almost punished Ashford for their failure to finish the match off earlier.

An unchanged Ashford looked well up for the game right from the start and it took just four minutes for them to go in front.  Excellent work from Alex Fisher enabled the rejuvenated Dan Fleming to send in a powerful effort but Windsor skipper and keeper Carl Dennison was in magnificent form and managed to keep it out.  Unfortunately for him, the ball rolled into the path of predator in chief  Mark Bitmead who was left with a tap in.

At this early stage both sides were looking to play good football, with Ashford mainly dominant, but the next incident of note some ten minutes before half-time didn’t really help the flow of the match.  It was a sending off for Windsor’s main striker George Dunbar, who having received an early caution for dissent, found himself the recipient of a second yellow card for something of a lunge on Max Webb.  Although it is probably difficult to criticise the referee, it somehow seemed harsh in the overall context of the match.  Windsor were further annoyed when a late tackle from Ashford’s flying centre-back Josh Andrew was not punished by a yellow card.

The reaction of Ashford’s opponents for a long period thereafter though seemed surprising, given that they were already a goal down.  For a long, long time it almost seemed as if they were content to defend deep and try to keep the score down, hoping maybe to get one on the break.  As a result, Ashford found themselves with the ball almost all the time and Tommy Brunton, immaculate in midfield yet again, seemed to have the freedom of the park to spread it around.  It should have led to more goals but some fairly indifferent finishing, allied with the almost unbeatable Dennison, ensured that it wasn’t until the 65th minute that the lead was doubled.  Another shot was saved but this time Fleming was not to be denied and he notched the goal his all round game deserved.

That should, of course, have been the cue for Windsor to lay down and accept their fate but despite their overall lack of possession, they possess players of some class and as Ashford seemed to ease off, they pulled one back in the 77th minute through Charlie Samuel.  It came from a cross lofted high into the danger area and Ashford found themselves unable to defend it properly, with the aforementioned result.

Inevitably, the goal changed things, with the visitors suddenly sensing that, despite everything that had gone before, they could get something from the match.  In the end they didn’t but there were a few sticky moments before Ashford could finally claim the three points.

Afterwards,, manager Ben Murray was pleased enough with his side’s efforts, with the team now having won six out of their last seven league matches, plus a draw and certainly much of the football was a joy to watch at times.  The vote for the “Ashford Supporters’ Man of the Match” went to Samad Kazi, currently our other flying central defender, although Tommy Brunton ran him mighty close, plus any number of other contenders.  It was also the first time for a while that no yellow/red cards were incurred, although that possibly owed a little to good fortune, as mentioned above.

We now look forward to the home match against Knaphill on Saturday, kick-off 3.00 p.m.  They surprised us at their own ground in the Surrey Senior Cup a few weeks ago, when they generally played football that belied their mid table status, but Ashford will be well prepared on this occasion and doubtless fielding their strongest available squad.

Finally, the whole club will wish to send it’s love and best wishes to our General Secretary Keith Balmer, who sadly has been in hospital throughout the Christmas period.  Keith, get well mate and we hope to see you soon.

With Ashford players showing their absolute dedication with some Christmas Day morning training, everyone at Short Lane will look forward to the match against Windsor on Monday 28 December, kicking off at 1.00 p.m.

It is a “big” day at or near the top of the League on Monday, with Camberley taking on Hartley Wintney and Horley Town entertaining Epsom & Ewell.  Windsor will arrive at Short Lane in 8th place but they have lost just five league matches all season and on their day they are a quality team who play good football.  Within their ranks they have Jake Jenkins, son of Gary, of course, and he played in a couple of matches for Ashford in the 2011-2012 season but he is now a regular in the Windsor ranks.

It has been reported this week that our opponents have lost their captain Adam Kirby who is trying his luck at Step 4 with Chalfont St. Peter, where incidentally, he will be joining up with ex-Ashford players Kofi Lockhart-Adams and Jack Mullen, who are both at Chalfont at the moment.  One player doesn’t make a team though and Windsor have moved swiftly to appoint their goalkeeper Carl Dennison as their new captain.

Ashford will come into the match in excellent spirits after blowing away AFC Hayes by 5 goals to nil on their own pitch last week.  It was a specially meritorious victory as Hayes are not a poor side by any means but they had no answer last week and the win was all the more impressive, given the sticky and very soft surface.

Last season against Windsor, honours were shared, with Windsor winning at Short Lane by 3 goals to 2.  It was possibly not so easy for Ashford supporters to appreciate the quality of the game in the immediate aftermath of the match, because Ashford played superbly well in the opening half, going two up, only for Windsor to do even better in the second period, drawing level, and then scoring the winner right at the death.

There was a degree of revenge though in the match at Windsor, when Ashford triumphed by 4 goals to 3 back in March.

Following Monday, we are at home again on Saturday 2 January, when Knaphill are the visitors but there is a double doubt over our fixture away to Sutton Common Rovers on Saturday 16 January.  Firstly, they are still in the FA Vase but their opponents have still to be resolved following a number of postponements, so there is the possibility that their Vase match could encroach.  Also, if their landlords, Sutton United, recently restored to the FA Trophy, following the fielding of an ineligible player by their opponents, win their next round match on 2 January, they are then scheduled to be at home in the competition on Saturday 16 January, which would, of course, take precedence.  We obviously have an eye on the situation and will let everyone know as soon as the actual situation is established.

You can follow Ashford on Facebook - Ashford Town (Middlesex) Supporters and on Twitter - @ashfordtownmx

Ashford faced the prospect of what seemed a very tough match yesterday at AFC Hayes, where the home side had shown greatly improved form and against whom Ashford had already completed two very close games, one cup, one league, at Short Lane.

The pitch was very soft and heavy and at one point the referee apparently had some misgivings as to whether to go ahead or not but he did and Ashford were grateful as their performance turned into one of the most complete of the season, more or less dominating the proceedings from start to finish.

With neither regular central defenders Will Boye or Russell Canderton available, it was a master stroke to pair up Samad Kazi and Josh Andrew together in the central defensive positions as they both made up for any perceived lack of height with incredible pace, and were generally successful in nullifying the threat of the dangerous Sam Saydee up front for AFC.

Making light of the conditions, Ashford attacked from the off and were rewarded on 14 minutes when Mark Bitmead was brought down in the area and he converted the penalty with ease. 

For a period the home side fought back and certainly had one or two chances to equalise but Ashford were looking good on the day and on the half hour mark it was Bailey Mummery who struck with aplomb to double the lead.  After that, the only thing between the Tangerines and their opponents was AFC Hayes keeper Bobby Khairia who single handedly at times it seemed, kept Ashford out.

Mark Bitmead hit the post with one effort before Jack Beadle cut in from the left and rifled home the third goal, followed two minutes later on the stroke of half-time with another penalty, this time for an inexplicable hand ball offence.  Bitmead duly made it four before the whistle.

The paper on the home dressing wall must have close to peeling at half-time but try as they might AFC could get nothing right on the day and the fifth goal for Ashford on 57 minutes was arguably the best of the bunch as Beadle, unchallenged, advanced and hit another unstoppable effort past  to make it five.  Another one was disallowed for offside which must have been mighty close and Bitmead hit the woodwork for the second time.

In the meantime, the home side went down to ten men, when the offender might actually have gone earlier but it made little difference.  With a little more determination, Ashford might have scored more but if there was a criticism yesterday, it was that the later attempts were not quite as clinical as they had been earlier.  Manager Ben Murray found himself able to give game time to three of the Under-18’s, Ilia Perovic, Charlie Rose and Gene Vincent lookalike, Harry Herdman and all looked more than confident.  All round it was an excellent day for the Club as they try to keep the pressure on league leaders Hartley Wintney.  Ashford "Man of the Match" award, voted by supporters, went jointly to Tommy Brunton and Jack Beadle.  Both were superb but there were plenty of candidates yesterday.

A word also for referee Andy Connor who, whilst not pleasing Ashford with his early booking for Kazi, had an excellent match which was echoed by both clubs’ officials, using all the maturity not always seen in the younger officials, to keep everyone in line.

The next match is back at Short Lane, where the pitch for yesterday’s BA match was immaculate, we understand, when Windsor FC will be the visitors on Monday 28 December, kick-off 1.00 p.m..  Windsor play good football and it has the makings of an excellent match.  Indeed with Camberley playing at home to Hartley Wintney and Horley entertaining Epsom & Ewell, it will be an interesting day all round.

Finally, we have the Christmas Draw this very afternoon (Sunday), which will get under way around 3.00 p.m. rather than 2.00 as previously assumed, everyone welcome.  Ashford is also distributing bottles of wine etc. to all the residents in Short Lane today as a little gesture of neighbourliness.

You can follow Ashford on Facebook - Ashford Town (Middlesex) Supporters and on Twitter - @ashfordtownmx

It’s a big weekend at Short Lane as we look forward to our Christmas match away to AFC Hayes on Saturday.  Relegated, like ourselves, from the Southern League, they struggled at first to find their feet at Step 5 but after going through a recent change of manager, now find themselves on the up, currently sitting in 9th place in the table, and some good form behind them with only one defeat in their last six matches.

That said, Ashford have managed to get the better of their opponents twice already this season, once on the opening day of the season, when a solitary Dan Fleming goal was enough to do the trick, and then again in November when another narrow victory, 3-2, saw us go through in the Middlesex Senior Cup.  Scorers on that evening were Mark Bitmead (2) and Max Webb.

Kick-off on Saturday is at the usual 3.00 p.m. and the address of the ground is Farm Park, Kingshill Avenue, Hayes, Middlesex, UB4 8DD.  There is a large car park.

Off the field, the Club Christmas party will take place on Saturday evening, everyone welcome.  Proceedings commence at 7.00 p.m. and Father Christmas will be making an appearance around 8.00 p.m. and we go on till late.  Please make a mental note now to leave the club quietly.

On Sunday, the annual Christmas Draw takes place, around 2.00 p.m. and tickets at £1 a book can still be purchased.  The Club needs your help to make this annual event a success so please buy a few more tickets if you can and also, if you can donate a prize (any Christmas fare would be fine) please do so.  Ideally we need them sometime on Saturday if you can.  If every single member of the club donated a prize, it would make it our best draw ever.  As it is, we will probably have at least 40-50 prizes, so please be generous if you can.  If you are one of the people still to return your tickets, please do so tomorrow (Saturday).

Christmas will come and go before our next match, which is at home to Windsor on Monday 28 December.  It is still holiday time, of course, and both clubs have agreed to kick off at 1.00 p.m.  We shall be hoping for a sizeable attendance that day against one of the sides in the League who invariably play good football.

Last week’s junior results are to hand, as follows:

Larry U12s 1-0 Spelthorne

Craig U13s 2-3 Croygas

Fin U13s 4-1 Corinthian

Martin U15s 4-3 Ewell Saxons

Ben U15s 0-7 CB Hounslow

Conor U15s 4-4 Wandgas

Carl U17s 2-2 Abbey Rangers 

It remains only to thank all our supporters for continuing to support the club this  last year, our players who have given us a lot of pleasure over the last 12 months and, of course, management, committee members, junior members and others who have pitched in to get so much done to ensure that the club can keep going.  Running a senior football club, even at our level, is no easy task and but for everyone who volunteers their services and expertise, it would be a massive struggle.

Ashford 18s fell at the quarter final stage of the Ryman Youth League Lucas Fettes cup going out on penalties in what was a very exciting match between two very good counter attacking teams.

Big thanks to Dave Baker for volunteering to drive the minibus to the ground, the traffic was dreadful and the journey took just over two hours to get to our destination.

Hendon sitting top of the league and full of confidence were playing at home on their usual 3G pitch started the match very strong, dragging our midfield all over the park, they opened the score sheet shortly after with a long ball in the box that took a nasty deflection which found their inform front man who calmly slotted past Ashford’s keeper to make it 1-0.  Hendon were truly in the driving seat and shortly after extended their lead to make the first half finish 2-0 to the home side.

Our lads knew that they were 45 minutes from being knocked out of the competition which has seen us beat Bedfont & Carshalton to reach this stage, with a slight tweak to the midfield positioning we came out with all guns blazing.

Mason sat in the holding position which allowed Charlie and Ilia to push forward and link up play with the front three of Keegan, Isaac and Harry.

Within minutes of the change Ilia and Charlie done a neat one two cutting Hendon’s midfield in half, Charlie who looked like shooting but instead slid in a wonderful ball to our prolific striker Isaac who made no mistake and buried it in the back of the net, 2-1 game on !!

Ashford were well and truly back in the tie and kept pressing and creating chances, our second goal shortly followed when Harry won a 50/50 header and fed Isaac who dragged the ball out wide and delivered a wonderful cross which was met by the head of substitute Jacob Bennett.

2-2 and everyone including the Hendon players and management could see that the balance had swung Ashford’s way, we created a couple more chances but the tie eventually finished and the game went straight to penalties.

My message was clear to the lads, I couldn’t be more proud of the team, coming from 2 down against a very strong well organised side, we were possibly unlucky not to win the game in normal time but Hendon may feel the same.

Penalties is a lottery and all I ask is we make their keeper work by hitting the target which we did on our first two strikes, Harry stepped up and the keeper made a fantastic save, he repeated his form by saving Roses penalty. Our fate was sealed when Aaron missed the target and Hendon finally won which takes them into the semi-finals.

Ashford MOTM goes to Mason for controlling the midfield in the second half.   The Hendon keeper though was fantastic and made some outstanding saves on the night.

We come away with our heads held high and despite a feeling of bitter disappointment, these lads are improving week by week which is all I can ask from them, well done to them and to Hendon, a cracking game and perfect advertisement for youth football.  

Last Saturday Ashford scored three goals in 14 minutes to rescue a point against Horley Town.  They did even better on Saturday, scoring three in six minutes, to see off Guildford City after trailing from the 54th minutes.

Some of the drama came before the match with skipper Russell Canderton somehow hurting his back so badly in the warm-up that an ambulance had to be summoned leading to Russell receiving both gas and air.  The latest news is good though in that our popular captain is back at home and feeling a lot better we understand although the extent of the injury may not be known for a day or so.

The next incident was whether or not the game should take place at all.  Ashford manager Ben Murray felt that the vertical sand filled tramlines, on a heavy surface, were dangerous and could lead to ankle injuries and the like and he was not alone in that view.  It was understandable that Guildford took the opposite point of view, having not played at home for some eight weeks.  The writer’s view is certainly that a number of match officials would not have played the match but Mr. Westlake decided that it should proceed, so we all got on with it, although Ashford remained unhappy with the decision. 

The first half played in yet another high wind had little to commend it with chances few and far between.  It was hard to criticise the players though as the overall conditions made good football almost impossible.

Guildford though made a bright start to the second period, despite the fact that the wind was against them and on 54 minutes they took the lead through Adam Nditi.  It was time for Ashford to get going and to be fair their play improved considerably despite a sending off for Bradley Wainwright.  Whilst on another day he might have got away with a caution, a silly piece of attempted retaliation suddenly gave the Tangerines a far harder task.

The break through was slow in coming, even after the award of a fairly soft penalty which the usually totally reliable Mark Bitmead put over the bar.  Despite the one man disadvantage, and Guildford could count themselves lucky they were not in the same situation, given one or two tackles, Ashford’s ten men were finally starting to take a grip though and in the 85th minute they had their deserved reward, Bitmead the scorer.

The game had changed and just two minutes later Bailey Mummery turned it on its head as he put the Tangerines ahead.  There was only going to be one winner now and it was fitting that the final goal was also scored by Bitmead who took advantage of a wayward clearance followed by a rather headstrong rush by the home keeper from his goal, taking his time and planting a firm shot into the empty net.

Murray was ecstatic, not least because his whole team, sorely depleted on the day with the absence or loss of Dan Fleming (unavailable), Scott Elgar (injured), Max Webb (ill) and Canderton (injured) and others, kept on to the very end just as they had last week and as the manager said himself, they never know when they are beaten.   

The usual “Ashford man of the match” poll took place and it was a dead heat between Will Boye, magnificent at the back today, and Samad Kazi, equally impressive in an unusual position, so they jointly received the award.

After wishing for a quieter game this week, which didn’t happen, Ashford now make the short trip to AFC Hayes next Saturday.  More of that one during the week.

It was a great day for the League in general on Saturday with three clubs through to the 4th Round of the FA Vase, with Camberley facing a home replay on Tuesday evening as they try to make it four.  One of Colliers Wood or Hartley Wintney were bound to go through as they played each other, the latter coming out on top, but superb away performances by Knaphill (at Canterbury City) and Sutton Common Rovers (at hot favourites Eastbourne Town) absolutely stand out and the CCL family will be wishing all our remaining clubs a favourable draw in the 4th Round on Monday.

 

Ashford make the short trip down to Guildford City on Saturday for the first meeting this season between the clubs.  Guildford will be playing at home for the first time in eight weeks following renovation work at their ground designed to cure a specific drainage problem.  We have been warned that the pitch will not look pretty but that it is playable.

The home side currently sit in 16th place in the table with seven victories and eleven defeats from their twenty league matches to date.  Last time out they found themselves on the wrong end of a 0-4 defeat at Epsom & Ewell, preceded by a 2-4 defeat at Camberley Town.  Within their ranks is currently Harry Driver, ostensibly on loan, along with Nathan Turner who had a few matches for us in the Southern League two seasons back.

Last season, we managed to win 3-2 at Guildford, courtesy of goals from Dan Fleming, Russell Canderton and Jack Beadle, although we made hard work of it.

The address of the ground is, of course, The Spectrum, Parkway, Guildford, GU1 1UP and there is plenty of parking.  Kick-off is at 3.00 p.m.

The junior fixtures for this Sunday for Ashford are:

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

Craig U13s v Croygas 12.30

Martin U14s v Ewell Saxons 2pm 

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

Fin U13s v Corinthian Casuals 10am

Ben U15s v CB Hounslow 11.30

Conor U15s v Wandgas 1pm 

Ashford Sports Club – 9 – 9 Pitch

Larry U12s v Spelthorne Sports 10am  

Ashford Town 5 – 5 Pitch

Billy U7s v Walton & Hersham 10am

Andy U8s v Mitcham Park 11.15

Matt U8s v Mitcham Park 12.30 

Ashford Town 7 – 7 Pitch

No Fixture 

Ashford Town – Outfield

Jo U17s v Paynes Park Vale 12pm 

Ashford Town Stadium

Ladies v Club Langley 2pm 

Away Games

Matt U9s v Westside

Graham U10s v Hampton Rangers

Nelson U10s v CB Hounslow

Carl U17s v Abbey Rangers 

No Games

Marco U15s

Tim U16s

News from the League is that Cove FC have been granted a three match suspension of fixtures.  It is hoped this wil help the club to stabilise after finding themselves unable to raise a side in two recent away matches.

Also, as has been reported, our match at home to Windsor on Monday 28 December will kick off at 1.00  p.m by mutual agreement.

 

 

Good Morning All,
 
This Sunday sees the final game of 2015 at The Robert Parker Stadium for Ashford Town (Middx) Ladies Football Club and I want to get a great buzz and atmosphere around the stadium for this fixture.

It would be great to see you, family and friends all there to show your support for the club and the team who are performing so well this season having won every league and cup game played in this calendar year.
 
It's a 2pm kick off on Sunday, it's free but most importantly you're guaranteed good football, entertainment and goals!
 
Please come and show support to the newest members your Ashford Town (Middx) Football Club family!
 
 
Thank you very much
Will Boye

 

It was a good day for our junior sides on Sunday, after our managers' Christmas party in Kingston.   Some braved their games while others cancelled their fixtures in advance, I got up and made my way to the ground to watch our under 13s play against Stoneleigh, a very entertaining match and after coming back from behind twice they eventually won by 3 goals to 2.

At the football club our 7s and 10s were all at home, Bill's under 7s beat local rivals CB Hounslow 3-2 while Tom's 7s lost by a couple of goals to a well organised Staines Albion side.

Nelson's 10s lost 3-2 at home against Hanworth in what was a very good and evenly contested match, both sides wouldn’t have complained if the result had gone either way.

Graham who was at the Christmas party and one of the last men standing, did the right thing and requested an afternoon kick off for his 10s, and they won by 5 goals to 3. Tthese lads are improving week by week and some really decent football is always on display when they play.

Larry’s 12s played in the quarter final of the league cup at home against a well drilled Doverhouse side, until the last 10 minutes our lads were in the game with the score at 1 a piece but the final 10 minutes Doverhouse showed why they are a couple of leagues above to score a further 3 to win the game 4-1, Larry’s lads look favourites for the league so there is still lots to play for, well done boys.

Fin's 13s are going from strength to strength as once again they recorded another impressive win beating Sheen Lions 8-1 at home, another Ashford side who are favourite to win the league, a real pleasure to watch these lads play.

Martin's 14s once again recorded another win that makes them unbeaten in 4, these lads have improved 100% since the start of the season, very proud of the boys as I know what effort the coaches put into developing the squad.

Ben's 15s came back from 4-2 down to keep their undefeated record going by scoring 2 stoppage time goals to draw the match 4-4 against Ewell Saxons.

I made my way to West Drayton Explorers to support Conor and his under 15's side who were playing for a spot in the quarter final stage of the county cup, Having looked at West Drayton’s previous results on paper this looked a tough test for the lads as the league has West Drayton sitting comfortably on top with a huge goal difference.

The pitch was long and boggy and the Middlesex ref failed to show, but I will say that the coach who stepped in to ref was superb and very fair so no complaints can be aimed his way.

I’ve watched Connor’s team a few times this season and they look like a squad that is very balanced and very comfortable in possession, in fairness West Drayton couldn’t handle the tempo that our lads set and the score line reflect that.

The match finally finished with our lads running out 11-0 winners and securing their place in the quarter final stage, they now look forward to an away trip to Wembley and they know that a win will put us within touching distance of one of the best trophies you can win at our level. The match is scheduled in January, I will send out details nearer the time.

Next weekend fixtures is the last before the Christmas break and we have loads of home games, well done everyone this week.

You can follow Ashford on Facebook - Ashford Town (Middlesex) Supporters and on Twitter - @ashfordtownmx

Several matches have come close to being ruined by strong winds lately and yesterday’s affair against Horley was probably the worst yet as far as the elements were concerned, with five of the six goals in the game being scored when the team concerned had the strong wind behind them.

Horley won the toss and elected to play with the gale in their favour and an incident packed match did not take too long to get going.  In just the 3rd minute Russell Canderton seemed to be in full control of a poke forward albeit with a Horley attacker hot on his heels.  Suddenly Russell was on the ground for what seemed a routine free kick and the ball was in the net.  Referee Stoyanov though saw no foul and allowed the goal to stand.

Matters became heated quickly and some dubious tackles were going in for a while.  Scott Weight seemed to be badly brought down on the edge of the penalty area only for Mr. Stoyanov to decide it wasn’t even a foul whilst Josh Andrew could hardly complain about his retaliatory caution soon afterwards.  Fortunately it calmed down and as the half went on, Ashford were reasonably pleased with the manner in which they were coping with Horley’s attacking play, even though they clearly possess a potent force up front.

Disaster struck though on 32 minutes when the visitors doubled their lead and from their point of view it was an excellent goal.  It came from an Ashford corner, taken by left back Alex Fisher, as is the norm, but on this occasion it was quickly cleared and a sweeping movement saw Ashford stretched at the back, leaving Adam Pullen to score.

There was no further scoring before half-time and Ashford remained hopeful that with the help of the elements they could still pull the match round.  Confidence was though taking something of a dip as they were unable to make the break through  and it seemed a hopeless task when Horley broke out and notched their third goal on 63 minutes again through Nadesan – a superb player who could certainly play at a higher level but seemingly one without the ambition to do so, which, of course, is Horley’s great fortune and good luck to him.  Loyalty is a rare commodity sometimes.

Anyway, it was looking like a second home defeat of the season for Ashford, even though a Horley substitute performed the daftest act of the day by getting himself needlessly sent off for kicking the ball at Josh Andrew, for no obvious reason, while the Ashford player was on the ground.

If there is one thing in this Ashford side though it is that they never know when they are beaten and for the second time in five days they were fighting a three goal deficit with time running out.  Manager Ben Murray, not to everyone’s pleasure, brought on fresh legs in Dan Fleming and Bailey Mummery, soon followed by Samad Kazi and suddenly Horley’s defences were breached as Canderton pulled one back.  It seemed no more than a consolation but when Dan Fleming got another two minutes later, the match turned on its head with Ashford having just over ten minutes to rescue what had looked an unlikely point, or even better.  Manager Murray knew what he was doing!

The next incident though was the dismissal of Will Boye, giving Mr. Stoyanov the honour of being the first referee to send an Ashford player off the field this season.  It was a last ditch tackle and Boye was sent off for violent conduct rather than preventing a goal scoring opportunity.  On another day, or earlier in the match, it might only have been a yellow but it was difficult to argue too convincingly against the decision, especially in the light of the earlier sending off as referees all too often, and possibly sub-consciously, look to even things up.

The play though remained all in one direction and in the second minute of stoppage time Ashford equalised.  A cross was swung in and Horley’s Ryan Brackpool in attempting to clear the ball, headed into his own net to bring to an end a controversial but absorbing contest and perhaps a well done should go to both sides for their endeavours in such difficult circumstances.

Ashford will hope for a quieter contest in their next game, which is not until next Saturday, when they travel to meet Guildford City.

There was late news last night when Middlesex County FA released the draw for the 3rd Round (Quarter-Final) of the Middlesex Senior Cup, in which we understand that Ashford have been drawn at home to Ryman League Harrow Borough in a match that will take place on  Tuesday 19 January, unless there is an agreement to bring the match forward.

FINAL REMINDER RE CHRISTMAS DRAW TICKETS – STUBS AND PAYMENT DUE TODAY PLEASE

Ashford take on Horley Town this afternoon in what threatens to be a windy affair.  Kick-off at Short lane is 3.00 p.m. and Ashford expect a stern test against their 5th placed visitors.

In recent home games though, Ashford have managed the elements well, the obvious ploy being to keep the ball on the ground as much as possible.  With five wins out of six behind them in the League, Ashford should certainly be confident in their approach.

Last season this fixture ended in a 3-3 draw, when Ashford found themselves two goals and a man down with only ten minutes left but pulled it round against the odds to salvage a valuable point. 

Apologies that this is a bit late but here is Junior Chairman Nick Bailey’s summary of last week’s junior results:

Winter is definitely kicking in as this Sunday once again was a cold and windy morning, I picked up club Chairman Dave Baker and head of team motivation Chad Beadle for a trip into Whitton to see our under 13s take on Whitton Wanderers.  Early on in the season we ran out winners by 3 goals to 2 but on this occasion Whitton took all 3 points during a very entertaining 5-3 defeat.

With Dave, Chad, Emma and Myself there the Ashford support continued to grow as we were joined by our very own Alan Bitmead (Marks Dad) and 18s striker Isaac Mplane, it was a very entertaining match and until the final 10 minutes it could have gone either way.

Tommy and his under 7s recorded their first win of the season beating Bedfont Sports 9-2, I’m very proud of Tom as he’s been my player since he was 7 and now he’s showing great promise and potential coaching his youngsters, this age group the score is irrelevant as it’s all about development, well done lads.

I must mention Martins under 14s, they always try and play the correct way regardless of the opposition and score line and in the last few weeks the results have been positive, this week they beat SRC Colts by 4 goals to 1 and now go unbeaten in the last three weeks, well done Martin and his team, it’s nice to see your hard work is paying off.

Bens 15s once again recorded a vital win to keep them firmly at the top of the table and still unbeaten all season, they beat Met Police 3-0 and look unstoppable, they have had a fair share of injuries but always seem to get the results, well done lads, you certainly look like champions in the making.

Connor’s 15s went 7 games unbeaten yesterday in all competitions, they won by 2 goals to 1 against Binfield and now look good for a promotion, next week they play in the County Cup away against Explorers, if they overcome that they will be away in the quarter final of the competition, that would be a huge achievement and we wish them all the luck.

Next weekend we have loads of teams at home, it’s our Managers Christmas party on the Saturday so there may be a few sore heads in the morning – good luck all. 

Here now are this week’s junior fixtures:

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

Craig U13s v Stoneleigh Athletic 11.30

Fin U13s v Sheen Lions 1pm

 

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

Carl U17s v Abbey Rangers 10am

Ben U15s v Ewell Saxons 11.30

 

Ashford Sports Club – 9 – 9 Pitch

Larry U12s v Doverhouse 11am  

 

Ashford Town 5 – 5 Pitch

Tommy U7s v Staines Albion 10.30am

Billy U7s v CB Hounslow 11.45

 

Ashford Town 7 – 7 Pitch

Nelson U10s v Hanworth Sports 11am

Graham U10s v Kew Association 12.30

 

Ashford Town – Outfield

Gary Sunday Men v Fulwell City 10.30

Marco U15s v Claygate 12.30

 

Ashford Town Stadium

No Fixture

 

Away Games

Matt U8s v Walton Casuals

Martin U14s v Kew Association

Conor U15s v Explorers COUNTY CUP 

Ladies v Putney Vale

 

No Games

Andy U8s

Matt U9s

Tim U16s

Joe U17s

 

There are some important County Cup matches this Sunday, as follows:

Larry's Under 12s are in the quarter final of the county cup this week at home to Doverhouse Lions. 

Kick off 11:00 

Address: Ashford Cricket Club, Short Lane, Ashford, Middlesex 

 

Conor’s Under 15s are in the 4th round of the county cup this week away to West Drayton Explorers 

Kick off 13:00 

Address: Sipson Recreation Ground,Sipson Way, Sipson  UB7 0DQ

Fantastic achievement for these two sides, Larry's side face a tough opposition who are unbeaten this season while Conor’s lads are one game away from the quarter final stages. 

 

 

Manager Ben Murray made a number of changes to the side that beat Spelthorne on Saturday but whether that could used as an excuse for Ashford’s sluggish 1st half performance on Tuesday evening, which eventually saw them lose at Knaphill by 4 goals to 3 in the 2nd Round of the Surrey Senior Cup, is doubtful.

There was a lot to talk about after the match but there was no doubting the home club’s superiority throughout much of the 1st half, which saw them take a 3-1 lead, and then increase it to 4-1 just five minutes after the re-start.

Ashford had Mark Bitmead and Dan Fleming both in their opening line-up for the first time in ages, following their injuries, and it is telling that, despite some obvious rustiness, the pair between them scored all three of Ashford’s goals.  It would seem that they just need additional game time now to get back to that attacking force that terrorised CCL defences last season to the tune of 60 goals plus between them.

At the back Ashford were unusually hesitant last night.  Knaphill deservedly took the lead on 23 minutes.  Joe Green, after bringing down a high ball with considerable skill, then gave it away and the opponent’s through pass to a colleague found George Marks on the wrong side, allowing Knaphill’s Danny Turner to open the scoring.

Parity was quickly restored, within three minutes in fact, as Mark Bitmead sent in a rocket of a shot that gave the home keeper no chance.

Four minutes later though, Ashford failed to defend a corner and Jamie Doble duly scored to restore Knaphill’s lead.  They made it three before half-time when once again Tyler Tobin was left exposed and his dash to the ball was never going to be successful, resulting in a penalty, duly scored by Doble.  Tobin was rightly booked and but for Will Boye’s sprint back may well have found himself the last man and thus off the field.

Referee Ellsmore then incurred Ashford’s displeasure a few moments later when a scything tackle by Knaphill’s Connor Close, similar to and probably worse than Tobin’s attempt, went unpunished apart from the award of a free kick.

Ashford recently have not been used to being two goals down at half-time and attempted to take the second half by storm.  Indeed within three minutes of the re-start, the match could have been level with firstly Bitmead blasting over from short range and then Fleming unable to beat the keeper as he went through unchallenged.

Ashford were immediately made to pay as Knaphill scored their 4th goal, courtesy of Matt Morris.

It all looked over and everyone will have seen matches where at three down, clubs accept the situation almost and the game is over.

To the visitors’ credit that was not the case on this occasion as slowly but surely the pendulum swung and a comical mix-up in the home defence gave Fleming the opportunity to pull a goal back with what, in the end, became a simple tap in.  Two goals down with 20 minutes left – could the Tangerines pull it round?

The eventual answer was no but they gave it a good go, especially when Bitmead the predator got it back to 3-4 with around ten minutes on the clock.  It was time to throw caution to the wind with Ashford more or less leaving just keeper Tobin and one defender back and it should be mentioned that Knaphill could easily have scored again from more than one breakaway but Tobin was at his best keeping everything out enabling Ashford to attack ever more frantically.

The visitors thought they should have had a penalty when Josh Andrew was brought down in a similar manor to the penalty awarded to Knaphill in the first half.  It looked at first as if Mr. Ellsmore was just waiting to see if the ball, which had rebounded into the air, was going to drop over the line but to the away contingent’s disappointment, he did not give the award.  When everything has cooled down, that was the referee’s view and has to be accepted but Ashford cannot be as charitable concerning the official’s time keeping.  The match generally had been played at a fast pace and mostly within the laws of the game but an incident out on the touchline saw Knaphill’s Close dismissed from the field for what looked like an over the top piece of retaliation.  The player then took longer to get himself off the field than the amount of time added on by the referee, let alone all the stoppages, substitutions, injuries etc.  Mr. Close should surely have been told to take the shortest way off the pitch and Ashford were absolutely furious when Mr. Ellsmore blew his whistle with not quite two extra minutes added on and more than one person had an exact stop watch on it.  There should have been at least a further five minutes and with Ashford threatening all over the pitch, there was every chance of an equaliser.  It was very poor time-keeping and very disappointing but that said, Ashford have only themselves to blame for a sub-standard performance for much of the match. 

Some of that can be attributed to the enterprising and indeed efficient play of the home side, especially in the first half and they maybe should be asking why they are still in mid table when they can play as well as they did for much of the match.  Somehow one knew it was going to be a difficult evening when three of Ashford’s officials went through a door marked “officials” upon arrival but found themselves in the kitchen and ushered out again just as quickly! 

The usual Ashford “man of the match” award was not conducted last night but the writer would certainly have opted for Tommy Brunton, who seemed to have more running in him than one or two of his colleagues, especially when moves broke down.

At the end of it all we wish our friends from Knaphill every success in their forthcoming FA Vase match against Canterbury on Saturday week.  They were there doing a spot of spying last night and will surely be concerned if Knaphill can repeat their performance in this match.

Ashford meanwhile start preparations for their home match against Horley on Saturday and will hope to repeat last Saturday’s form rather than that of last night and quickly put this one behind them.

MATCH POSTPONED – This afternoon’s match at Farnham Town is OFF as Farnham’s pitch is waterlogged

Ashford start the New Year with a trip to Farnham Town FC on Saturday, their first since October 1999, when the two sides fought out a 0-0 draw.  The ground does though have some happy memories for Ashford as it was at Farnham’s Memorial Ground in May 1996 when they clinched one of their five CCL championships through the 90’s, when Paul German scored twice in a 2-0 victory.

As has been mentioned before, Farnham were the first club to inflict a defeat upon Ashford at senior level when they won by one goal to nil at Short Lane on 15 September 1990.

Earlier this season Ashford managed to win by three goals to one in September courtesy of goals from the three B’s, namely Mark Bitmead, Jack Beadle and Tommy Brunton.  Farnham’s playing record  though has improved significantly since the early part of the season, culminating last Saturday with an eye-opening 6-2 victory away at league leaders Cove, five of them coming in the second half, and it will not be an easy match.  Ashford though are right back on form and the recent wins at Cove and at home to Spelthorne has seen the confidence flooding back into the squad.

The address of the ground is The Memorial Ground, West Street, Farnham, GU9 7DY.  There is a small car park at the ground but it is advisable to park on the other side of the ground in the Municipal car park and walk across to the Club House.  Farnham is unusual in that the dressing rooms are just outside the ground, with the club house on the other side.

Given the prevailing cold conditions, it may be worth checking that the match is on before travelling, and the clubhouse number at Farnham is 01252 715305.  Kick-off as usual is at 3.00 p.m.

Ashford ended 2014 on a bright note with a fairly solid victory against neighbours Spelthorne Sports, winning by three goals to one, at Short Lane.

Matches sometimes have a certain look about them and right from the start on Saturday, Ashford were at it, taking the lead after just two minutes when Dan Fleming got on the end of a cross from Rob Curtis to steer the ball past Gary Phillips in the Spelthorne goal.

A decent match ensued though and although Spelthorne were without player/manager Paul Johnson, serving out a one match suspension, the visitors played some neat football at times, with the lively Jessie Atiase a fairly constant threat.  It was fair to say though that Ashford generally held sway and after one short corner had almost produced a goal, the visiting defenders still did not catch on and an identical piece of play in the 33rd minute saw Alex Fisher, given acres of time, swing in an excellent cross allowing the energetic Max Webb to get up and power the ball home.

The second half continued in the same vein with both teams playing their part in the entertainment but it was Ashford who scored the vital third goal on 65 minutes and it was Fleming again, who was given too much space, allowing him to look up and send a ball over Phillips and into the net.  It was a superb goal from Ashford’s point of view and effectively settled the match, although Ashford keeper Tyler Tobin, as he had had to be throughout the match, still needed to be sharp on more than one occasion.  Jack Beadle, on from the bench for the Tangerines, took the eye with his direct running and twice should have had the ball in the net with only Phillips to beat but twice shot narrowly wide, and on the day Ashford possibly deserved a slightly greater margin of victory.

It was Spelthorne though, who had the last word, when Atiase reduced the arrears in stoppage time, to make the final scoreline, 3-1.  In the meantime Ashford had introduced 16 year old Illia Petrovic into the fray for his first senior outing, stepping up from the Under-18’s.

Fleming took the “Ashford Man of the Match Award” although there were plenty of other contenders, especially at the back, with Alex Fisher looking ever more assured on the ball, whilst Jack Mullan and skipper Russ Canderton generally kept the potentially dangerous Spelthorne strike force at bay. 

Other results saw both Camberley and Windsor win to keep up the pressure, whilst Molesey’s match at home to Chertsey was postponed.  The big surprise of the day though was Farnham’s 6-2 win at Cove, five of the six coming in the second half, which has opened the League up to an extent although Cove still retain top spot.

There are no midweek matches for Ashford as the New Year approaches, so the next outing will be next Saturday away to Farnham Town, in what will be no easy affair.  More on that in due course.

May we wish a happy New Year to all readers.  The usual New Year Bash will be taking place at the Club on Wednesday 31 December when everyone will be very welcome, including children.  Unlike many pubs, there is no cost of entry and you are guaranteed a good evening.

 

Ashford Town

 

 

 

New Year’s Eve Party at Short Lane

 

 

 

Everyone Welcome

 

 

 

No Entry Charge

 

 

 

8.00 pm on, 31 December

 

 

 

Your DJ, Tyrone Fernando

 

The Directors and Committee of Ashford Town (Middlesex) FC wish all their supporters and everyone connected with the Club a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.  A big thank you goes out to everyone involved in turning the Club’s fortunes around after last season’s disaster, especially the players and the Management and we can hopefully face the future with confidence.  There are too many individuals who have either made donations or worked hard for the club (or both) in various respects to name but we thank every single one of you.

January and February are traditionally the months when income is at its lowest and we would ask all members, especially those from the Junior Section, who have embraced the club in so many ways this year, to use the clubhouse whenever you can, especially if you are thinking of holding a party or similar gathering.  As previously mentioned we will be open throughout the holiday, especially on Christmas Eve, to 1.00 a.m. and at lunchtime on Christmas Day.  There will also be New Year Celebrations to see in the New Year, when again, everyone is welcome.

In the meantime, Ashford have one match left in 2014, which will be the home game against Spelthorne on Saturday 27 December, kick-off 3.00 p.m.  Thanks to Spelthorne’s remarkable rise up the football ladder, upon which we congratulate them heartedly, it is now a match of great interest, with both teams harbouring thoughts of possible promotion at the end of the season.  We hope to see a very healthy attendance on Saturday.

Spelthorne, under the control of one of Ashford’s best ever players, in player/manager Paul Johnson (and it still seems odd to see him in any colours other than tangerine) took Division One by storm last season and currently sit in 6th place in the table, 12 points behind Ashford but with two matches in hand.  The match at Spelthorne earlier in the season showed that he had not taken too long to learn the tricks of management and a tough game can be predicted with some confidence. 

Ashford, for their part, seem back on form with the win at Cove a fortnight ago a great morale booster and with hopefully a full squad from which to choose his side, Ben Murray will be expecting a performance from his team.

An unusually sparse attendance, no doubt due to the Christmas period, saw Ashford do enough to overcome a stubborn Raynes Park Vale side on Saturday by two goals to one.

With only occasional glimpses of the football Ashford are capable of, the early part of the match was largely a stalemate but the break through eventually came just four minutes before the break, when a clumsy tackle in the area saw Mark Bitmead step up and thrash the ball home from the spot.

In the opening period of the second half, Ashford looked more impressive and just after the hour mark Dan Fleming got on the end of a ball in the box and showed great technique to strike it home on the volley.  The visitors almost started to lose some discipline but they re-grouped and settled down to ensure that Ashford never had an easy ride.  Generally though Ashford looked strong at the back, with the visitors’ main threat coming from set pieces, especially corners, but when Vale’s Smart pulled one back in the 90th minute when the ball seemed to roll along the line before being forced home, it gave Ashford a torrid last five minutes as the referee allowed plenty of stoppage time.  They held out though and three valuable points were secured.

The Chad Beadle “Ashford Man of the Match” award went to Dan Fleming who was impressive all afternoon, not only for his dexterity in front of goal but his non-stop running and harrying, but it was a close thing with the rejuvenated Samad Kazi looking particularly energetic down the flanks.

Other results saw Molesey winning by three goals to nil in the “big” match of the day at Windsor, whilst Cove won 2-1 at Colliers Wood.  With Camberley and Spelthorne out of action though, the three points ensured that Ashford would retain second spot in the table going into Christmas.

Next Saturday Ashford entertain Spelthorne Sports, in an all-Spelthorne derby, kick-off 3.00 p.m. but more of that one later.  In the meantime, the Club will be open every day through the break, including Christmas Eve, and lunchtime on Christmas Day when it will be good to see anyone who can pop down.  Friends and relatives are all very welcome.

 

It’s back to the League for Ashford on Saturday, with a home match against Raynes Park Vale on offer at Short Lane, kick-off 3.00 p.m.

Following the successive victories over Cove and Chessington, Ashford seem to be back on track after a little wobble and will relish the opportunity of being at home on a pitch that may be soft but will certainly be in as good condition as could reasonably be expected at this time of the year.  As far as is known, manager Ben Murray has a virtually full squad to choose from, with just Rob Curtis possibly still on the sidelines, along with Ryan Dearden, out longer term.

Just as Ashford gained some ground back on Cove last week so the other challengers in the shape of Molesey, Windsor and Camberley in particular have all crept up lately and it would be a bold man who would bet on the final outcome for some time yet.  Ashford’s visitors have not been on such good form recently but it must be remembered that, to date, of the few clubs to have beaten Ashford in any competition this season, they are the only ones to have done it by a two goal margin.  Since beating Ashford in November though, the Vale have lost three of their last four games, including a 0-5 drubbing at home last Saturday against Windsor.

Two dates have been confirmed for cup matches to come.  On Tuesday 20 January, Ashford will entertain Southern League SW Division side Fleet Town in the quarter-finals of the Aldershot Senior Cup whilst on Tuesday 3 February the Tangerines will make the short trip to play CB Hounslow United in the quarter-final of the Southern Combination Cup

The match of the day tomorrow is surely the clash between Windsor and Molesey at Stag Meadow whilst  Cove and Camberley are both on the road, at Colliers Wood and Farnham respectively.

Ashford did enough on Tuesday evening to get themselves through to the 3rd Round (QF) of the Southern Combination Challenge Cup, beating Chessington & Hook United by three goals to one.  Ashford will now be away to CB Hounslow United on a date to be arranged.

The match was switched to Short Lane at Chessington’s request, as their own ground was waterlogged, and it was the visitors who took an early lead after just five minutes when a fierce effort gave Tyler Tobin no chance as it took a wicked deflection on its way into the net.  Chessington looked lively at that stage and with Ashford a little sluggish at the back on occasions, it would not have been  a major shock on the run of play if the visitors had not scored again.

Equilibrium was gradually restored though and Ashford levelled on 21 minutes, when an effort from Mark Bitmead was beaten out only for the lively Samad Kazi to firmly stroke the rebound home.

The match remained relatively even up to the halfway mark but the second period saw Ashford getting more on top and it was not a great surprise when, on the hour mark, Mitchal Gough headed spectacularly home from a corner kick.  Three minutes later Max Webb, later voted Ashford “man of the Match” struck home an effort that would definitely be a candidate for goal of the season as it rocketed home.  That effectively finished the visitors off as their earlier fluidity had gone, although to be fair there was no lack of effort from them.  They were also handicapped by an injury to their keeper Ian Hewitt, although he struggled on bravely, with no replacement available on the bench.

Ashford were content to retain much of the possession after that and gently see out the remaining 25 minutes despite the odd scare or two.  Referee Worrell had a quiet evening with everyone on their best behaviour with not a card in sight.  He certainly gave spectators their money’s worth as well, allowing a total of some 13 minutes stoppage time, equally spread over both halves.  It was hard to see where it all came from in the first half but there were two long stoppages for treatmennt to the visiting goalie in the second.

Contrary to yesterday's information, Tuesday's match against Chessington & Hook has now been switched to our ground, kick-off 7.45 p.m.

Chessington made the request this morning (Monday) as the overnight rain means their pitch will still be waterlogged and both parties have agreed that it makes sense to get the match played if possible.

WMSFL Div 2, as at 14/12/14

P

W

D

L

F

A

Pts

Ashford Town (Middlesex)

8

6

0

2

29

21

18

Marble Hill

6

5

1

0

24

12

16

AFC Feltham Sunday

6

5

0

1

22

8

15

Marble Hill Twickenham

7

5

0

2

24

14

15

Hampton Rovers

6

4

1

1

33

17

13

Continental Boys

8

3

1

4

26

25

10

Load of Gold

7

3

0

4

24

33

9

Bedfont Sunday

6

2

1

3

17

19

7

The Hare and Hounds Sunbury

9

2

1

6

22

37

7

Wayfarers

6

1

1

4

11

19

4

Langdon Park

5

1

0

4

10

15

3

Isleworth Workingmens Club

8

1

0

7

11

33

3

A match that had just about everything saw Ashford put their recent indifferent form behind them as they won by four goals to three at league leaders Cove, leading 4-1 at one stage, only for Cove to stage a fight back that almost saw them snatch a point.

Yet again a very young referee was in charge but his inexperience showed.  One or two abysmal failures to play advantage let him (and both sides) down and a bizarre refusal to award Ashford a blatant penalty which, if scored, would have put the visitors 5-1 up, led to an incident which eventually saw the Cove keeper sent off, and a totally unwarranted caution for Dan Fleming.  It was disappointing that a match between 1st and 2nd in the League did not warrant a more experienced official.

Ashford made a stirring start to the game and two goals in the opening fifteen minutes gave them a solid foundation from which to play.  Mark Bitmead on the right hand side seemed to be finding space at will and was frequently getting behind the Cove defence.  It was his cross that saw Jack Beadle forcing home the opener, with Max Webb doubling the lead soon afterwards.

Cove though are not top of the league for nothing and they play a direct game very well.  They pulled a goal back just before the half-hour mark from a free kick which deceived Tyler Tobin or may have taken something of a deflection.  Either way it flew into the net.

There was a determined look about the Tangerines though, which had been totally missing in midweek at Camberley, and just two minutes later when the Cove keeper came racing out of his goal but only succeeded in heading the ball backwards, Bitmead took full advantage with a skilful lob from distance into the empty net.

Thus it was 3-1 to the visitors at half-time and when Bitmead hit a superb cross shot just three minutes into the second period, to make it four, it looked as if it may be game over.  Cove are fighters though and Ashford were never able to relax.  Then we had the incident where Fleming turned inside of his marker and was tripped.  Anyone who doubts it can watch the excellent video on the CCL forum but somehow the referee saw it differently.  In the aftermath the keeper then pushed the ball into Tommy Brunton’s face with the referee two yards away although he still had to go over to his assistant to check before issuing a red card.

Cove were desperate to get something from the match and all credit to them as they fought like demons to overcome a three goal deficit.  They got one back with still 25 minutes to go and when they made it 3-4 with seven minutes on the clock, one sensed that Ashford may have blown it.  Not this time though as the defence held on despite another bizarre incident that saw debutant Mitchal Gough sent off whilst Cove were preparing to take a free kick.  Nobody knew what Gough was supposed to have done and watching the video makes no-one any the wiser.  He left the field completely bewildered.  According to the referee afterwards, he kicked out but there is just no sign of it.  It made life even more tricky in those closing seconds but Ashford managed to hold on for three points that over the full 90 minutes were deserved, despite the late pressure.

Not sure if he received the Ashford “man of the match” award or not but Elliott Jones in midfield must have come close, whilst Bitmead was a constant threat up front.  How Ashford missed him when he was injured!  Everyone did well though, either when attacking so well for much of the match, or defending for their lives especially in the closing period.

There is a break from the League on Tuesday evening when Ashford are due to visit Chessington & Hook United in the 2nd Round of the Southern Combination Challenge Cup, to see who will go through to play away at CB Hounslow in the quarter final.  Chessington have seen a high number of postponements at their Chalky Lane ground already this season but they are hopeful that the game will go ahead if there is no further rain.  There was a possibility that the match may have been switched to Short Lane but that has not happened and if their ground is unfit, it will be re-arranged for a later date.

On a wet and windy night at Krooner Park, Ashford’s recent indifferent form continued as they were well beaten by Camberley Town in the 3rd Round of the League Cup by three goals to nil.

There are various theories both in and outside the club as to why Ashford have suffered something of a slump in recent weeks such as those who think the team is too young, those who think the more difficult pitches in the winter time are to blame and those who think the team was knocked off course when leading striker Mark Bitmead injured himself and has been missing for several weeks, only making a tentative return this week.  It may well be a combination of all of those things but those who watched the club in the earlier stages of the season will be aware of the quality in the playing staff and it will be turned round.  Ashford are still in second place in the table and a win at Cove on Saturday would open up everything up again, especially with the news that the league leaders have not applied for promotion, which means that the battle for second place will be  ever more important now.  Belief and confidence are probably the two most important words for Ashford to concentrate upon!

Ashford got off to the worst possible start last night despite playing down the slope in the opening period, conceding after just four minutes, when it looked as if the ball should most certainly have been cleared.  The grateful recipient from close range was Matt Bunyan.  The same could be said of the second goal on 33 minutes from Daniel Band.

Ashford’s only real response was a cracking effort on the turn from Dan Fleming from fully thirty yards or more which looked as if it may dip under the bar but a tip over from the very capable Camberley keeper thwarted the effort.

Ashford had a more determined look at the start of the second period and had the ball in the net only for offside to be given.  Indeed there was certainly no lack of effort but when Camberley’s Manny Quarshie  scored their third very soft goal, again from close range, following a throw in near the corner flag, which really should have been dealt with better, it was obvious that it would be the home side making deserved progression to the quarter finals.

Once again the refereeing seemed a little inconsistent, with one or two of the visitors’ fouls seemingly treated more harshly than those of the home side but that is a side issue, as indeed was the appearance of a substitute assistant at half-time from within the Camberley ranks.  That is never ideal but despite one or two shouts to the contrary, he was entirely fair.

Time to dust ourselves down, have faith in the team and the manager and get down to Cove on Saturday.  They have still lost just once in the league this season so fair play to them but they could only draw at Westfield on Saturday and lost at home yesterday evening 2-4 to Alresford, who are in the lower reaches of the Wessex League, in the Aldershot Cup.  Maybe the news that they will not be going up whatever happens will have an effect upon their players! Who knows but the address of the ground is Oak Farm Fields, Squirrel Lane, Cove, GU14 8PB.  Squirrel Lane is no more than a track and is the first left turn when you enter Romayne Close.  Follow the track round and the car park is front of you although there is a larger car park inside the ground alongside the pitch.  The Cove burger bar is also renowned for its excellent fare!

Back to the Camberley match and whilst there was not the usual enthusiasm for picking the Ashford “man of the match” (and a big thank you to all our supporters who made the effort to get there on a horrible evening weatherwise), the recipient was young Alex Fisher, who maybe came out of the match with the most credit within the Ashford ranks, certainly keeping the ball on the ground rather more readily than some of his team mates on this occasion.

On a day to forget for the Tangerines, Ashford lost to Molesey by the only goal of the match, scored on the stroke of half-time by ex-Ashford player Pietro Palladino on his debut for the Moles.

It was a niggly affair, with a referee who looked out of his depth at times but whilst possession overall was relatively even, Ashford found themselves unable to create barely a significant chance all afternoon. Dan Fleming hit one over the bar, whilst the returning Mark Bitmead, on from the bench, had a good opportunity late on but his control let him down.  The best chance was probably the one thwarted by the referee who decided to blow up for a free kick in Ashford’s favour some thirty yards behind play, when it did not look a difficult advantage to play.

Palladino had earlier hit a tremendous effort which rebounded from the woodwork and probably deserved his luck with the goal, when some felt that there had been a handball before, but the truth was that the visitors carved out more opportunities than Ashford and they deserved to win the match.  Russell Canderton was voted the “Ashford Man of the Match”.

We move on and look forward to the away trip at Camberley Town on Tuesday evening in the 3rd Round of the Cherry Red Records Premier Challenge Cup (League Cup), kick-off 7.45 p.m.  Camberley play at Krooner Park, Wilton Road, Camberley, GU15 2QW.  One senses that Ben Murray will have his troops well fired up for this one.

“I wanted to send out a statement about a couple of player movements within the squad.

Reluctantly, Joe Hughes and I came to a mutual agreement for him to leave us last Friday evening. Joe is a fantastic player with a professional attitude and I am truly sad to lose him at this stage of the season, but we both agreed that first team opportunities were limited at this stage of the season. I know that Joe has had a few offers from our league already. I am sure you will agree that he has a tremendous amount of talent and once fully fit and he has his confidence high, he will be a valuable asset to any team in this division or any team in the divisions above.


In the past few weeks we also have mutually agreed the release of Tom Hill, who again was a valuable asset to the squad, but first team league game opportunities were limited with the quality of our full backs we currently have, so it was agreed to let him go.

Both players have left on very good terms and on behalf of the club I would like to thank them for their services and wish them the very best of luck in their future football career.

In terms of current squad, we welcome back Mark Bitmead from his injury, which took longer than expected to allow him to recover 100%, he was on the bench on Tuesday night against Chertsey but was not needed to be risked and will train in full tonight.

The only long term injury we have in the squad is Ryan Dearden, who has broken his hand and will be out for the foreseeable future.

I have today put in our first 7-day approaches of the season and will be able to update you on those next week. We currently have a fit playing squad of 18 players and for me it is important to boost that to 20 players during this middle part of the season. I am also going to be focussing very hard on our youth team in the next few weeks to see which players are ready to get involved in the senior set up. Currently 13 of our first team squad have played for our youth team at Ashford Town, a remarkable stat and show’s our intent to promote local young players.

I am very happy with our squad; we have quality in all areas and have many versatile players that can replica other players’ positions if needed.”

The draw for the next round of the Surrey Senior Cup was made this morning and Ashford will travel to Leatherhead, on a date to be determined.

A generally impressive display saw Ashford back on track on Tuesday evening as they defeated hosts Chertsey Town by four goals to nil.

Chertsey had won their previous two home league matches and Ashford were well aware that they were capable of making things difficult but the seeds of victory were sown after 15 minutes of early domination when Russell Canderton made no mistake as he was put in by Tommy Brunton.

Dan Fleming could have made it two quite soon afterwards but an excellent stop from the home keeper denied him.  At this stage though, Chertsey were far from a spent force and they made their presence felt for much of the remainder of the half, with ace marksman John Pomroy missing a golden opportunity to level things up.

It was a different story after the break though as Ashford now had the strong breeze behind them.  It took just eight minutes to double the lead as Fleming struck and when he followed that up with a second just six minutes later, it was effectively game over.

Chertsey mounted the occasional spasmodic attack but it was largely all Ashford and no great surprise when Alex Fisher made it four on 66 minutes.  There was no further scoring but Ashford had done enough and there was a double boost after the match when manager Ben Murray confirmed that leading scorer Mark Bitmead is over the troublesome injury incurred at Hartley Wintney and will be available for the match against Molesey on Saturday.

In a match of just one caution for a Chertsey player, referee Jallow impressed with his calm handling of the match.

Ashford have agreed to release Joe Hughes who has made 20 appearances this season, 10 as sub, but he has struggled to make the opening line-up in recent weeks, especially following the arrival of Phil Osuhor and understandably wants more regular football.  His stand out moment for the Club was undoubtedly the last minute winner he scored against Camberley earlier in the season and if he goes to another CCL club they will be picking up a fine player.

Ashford are now embarking upon a very difficult set of fixtures in December, starting on Tuesday evening, with a visit to Chertsey Town.

Although the impressive win over a Brentford squad last Friday was a morale booster, Ashford need to get back to winning ways in the League, having surrendered the initiative to Cove in recent weeks, following two successive defeats at the hands of Raynes Park Vale and Windsor respectively.  There are a lot of points to be played for yet though. 

This will be the return match against Chertsey who were defeated at Short Lane at the beginning of October when Ashford won by three goals to one, courtesy of strikes from Jack Beadle, Joe Hughes and Russell Canderton.  Despite the two goal margin it was a hard fought victory and with Chertsey having won their last two home matches against Westfield and Raynes Park Vale, they will again undoubtedly prove tough opposition.

It’s a double date at Chertsey this week, with the Under-18’s also making the trip to Alwyns Lane on Thursday evening in search of Ryman Youth League points.

In case anyone is unaware, the address of the ground is Alwyns Lane, Chertsey, KT16 9DW.  Parking inside the ground is very limited and the side roads are invariably clogged so it is worth getting there early if you can.  Kick-off is 7.45 p.m.

St Ives Town

It was the same story on Saturday as Ashford sustained another 0-4 defeat this time at St. Ives Town.  Lewis Taylor made his debut at centre-half, with Javan Alexander preferred up front.

On a heavy pitch, Ashford effectively conceded the match by conceding two goals in the first twenty minutes.  The first, after just four minutes, was a straightforward lofted free kick to the far post that saw unmarked home forward Ellison rising high to give Tyler Tobin no chance.  The second came just as Ashford were showing some signs that they could trouble their hosts.  Cyril Ocansey gave the ball away carelessly on the half way line and inept defending then allowed Gibbs the opportunity to score.

In the second period Ashford at least had a more determined approach and had they pulled one back during this period, things may just have ended differently.  Despite reasonable levels of possession, chances were restricted, with Joe Bennett forcing a save and Ocansey putting a firm but inaccurate header over the bar.  St. Ives always looked dangerous though as Ashford contributed to their own downfall with more poor defensive work, leading to a final 4-0 drubbing, the second in a row.

To their credit Ashford never stopped playing or trying but it is hard going at the moment.  We try again on New Years Day (kick-off 3.00 p.m.) away at Egham Town and then at home on Saturday against Daventry Town, where in the first game of the season we were 2-1 up with fifteen minutes left and Daventry down to ten, only to lose 2-5!

MarlowRecent matches had given Ashford some hope that they were perhaps turning the corner but an abject defeat at the hands of Marlow on Boxing Day has left everyone wondering where we go from here.  The answer, of course, will be the Combined Counties League (or the Hellenic or the Spartan S. Midlands) unless things can be drastically turned round. 

Marlow dominated the proceedings for much of the first half, despite the return of Joe Bennett who has at least given Ashford a genuine scoring threat up front.  Indeed Bennett had the ball in the net twice in the first half but both were ruled offside and it was the visitors who deservedly went in two up at the break.  When the third goal went in after the resumption and the match was effectively lost, Ashford finally started to play a bit and for a while it was hard to accept that the club was marooned at the foot of the table when they played as they did.  Bennett missed a good opportunity as did Perry Luckins and substitute Javan Alexander, who certainly gave everything he had and must be in line for a starting place.  When it’s not your day though (or your season in this case) nothing goes for you and a realistic shout when Alexander seemed to be tripped in the area was turned down only for Marlow to go straight down the field and notch a freak fourth goal as a clearance from Jack Mullan rebounded off a team mate to present the visitors with an open goal.

On Saturday Ashford make the long trip to St. Ives, the address of the ground being Westwood Road, St. Ives, Cambridgeshire, PE27 6DT

Marlow

The storms have hit The Robert Parker Stadium quite badly with some fence panels down along with a fallen tree (or part thereof).  It will be difficult to effect repairs before the Boxing Day match at home to Marlow but the pitch is not affected and it is hoped the match will go ahead, with a 3.00 p.m. kick-off.

Marlow, five places ahead of Ashford in the table are not currently in good form, having lost their last four league matches and in many ways the Christmas/New Year period, with three games in quick succession, is crucial for Ashford if they are to have any chance of getting away from the foot of the table, although doubtless no-one needs to be told that.

A happy Christmas to all.