The draw for the Middlesex Charity Cup has been released today and Ashford will be away to Southall in the 1st Round. Southall ground share at Hanwell Town so nobody will be too disappointed about a return to Reynolds Field, if the pitch remains in the same condition as when we played there last week.
There is clearly some embargo upon us receiving home draws in any competition at the moment as, were we to beat Southall, we would be away to North Greenford United in the 2nd Round, who are also our opponents in the Senior Cup where we have a rare home draw.
Ashford negitiated a tricky FA Cup tie in deepest Gloucestershire on Saturday coming away from South & West Division side Shortwood United with a 2-0 victory.
Finding the ground and successfully navigating the narrow road up to it took a bit of doing but we received a warm and friendly welcome from the Gloucestershire side who only three seasons ago had reached the 1st Round Proper of the competition.
In awful weather for August, wet and windy, neither side looked over penetrative in the first half. Shortwood probably had a little more of the match in terms of possession but apart from a couple of goalmouth scrambles at both ends, 0-0 was about right at half-time.
There was an improvement in the play in the second half with Ashford having as much of the game as their hosts but thoughts were very much drifting towards a replay at Short Lane on Tuesday. In the last ten minutes though the play became more intense and Shortwood were unfortunate to lose their central defender, sent off for a second yellow card. Whether or not the new initiatives at higher levels have found their way down to this level is hard to say but it is looking more and more as if just about every tackle carries the risk of a yellow card and in that sense this match was reminiscent of the game at Hanwell on Tuesday. The referee was fit, up with play and controlled the game well but he simply didn’t need to dish out all the cards that were incurred, in a match with only one foul that caught the eye, that being Scott Weight’s on a Shortwood player on the halfway line. It would have been OK but the ball was some ten yards away and our player was possibly fortunate with that one to escape with only a yellow. All the others looked harsh.
It looked to the writer that Shortwood, now down to ten, were keen to try to force the issue and probably didn’t over fancy a midweek trip to Ashford. Ashford though had introduced three vary capable substitutes in the shape of Tommy Brunton, Bailey Mummery and Jack Beadle and finally were able to take control. It was Beadle who made the breakthrough weaving his way past three defenders before swivelling and firing home with just four minutes of normal time to go.
Shortwood had no option now other than to throw caution to the wind and inevitably left themselves open at the back and in stoppage time, Mark Bitmead doubled the lead with a delightful chip over the home keeper.
The Ashford “Man of the Match” award went to Samad Kazi, in for Russell Canderton in defence. Samad was a rock at the back and fully deserving of the award. Well done also to all the Ashford supporters who made it down to Gloucestershire.
Ashford will now go on to visit Herne Bay (Ryman Division One South) in the 1st Qualifying Round on Saturday 3 September, the latter having beaten East Grinstead by a solitary goal yesterday. There is no match this midweek for the 1st Team, the next game being at home on Saturday to Aylesbury. There will be much more on both these matches in due course but the first opportunity to look at our new Under-18 side, under the management of Mark Oliver comes on Wednesday, when Staines Town U18 are the first visitors of the season in the Ryman Youth League, kick-off 7.45 p.m.
There is also a match at Short Lane on Tuesday when British Airways, second in the table after three matches in the Middlesex County League, will hope to preserve their unbeaten record when they take on Kensington Dragons, kick-off 7.45 p.m.
Finally we should like to say thank you to Shortwood United who were a lovely club all round and their hospitality was superb. Our best wishes go to them for a good season.
Manager Ben Murray has strengthened his squad with the signing of Callum O’Sullivan, son of coach Terry O’Sullivan. Callum is a combative midfield player, aged 19, and was released last season by Queens Park Rangers after being at Loftus Road since his school days. He is working his way back to full fitness and is likely to be a major asset to Murray’s squad.
On Saturday Ashford make the 96 mile trip into Gloucestershire to play Shortwood United in the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup, with the winners drawn away to East Grinstead or Herne Bay. Shortwood are fellow members of the Evostick League South but play in the South and Western Division of the competition in which, to date, they have won two and lost two and sit in 13th position in the fledgling table. On Tuesday evening, whilst we were drawing at Hanwell Town, they lost 0-3 at home to pre-season favourites Hereford.
There will not be any extra time tomorrow and if the scores are level after 90 minutes, there will be a reply at Short Lane on Tuesday evening.
The address of the ground is Meadow Bank, Stroud GL6 0SJ and Shortwood have the following notice on their web site: All visitors to the ground should note that the access road from Nailsworth to the ground is extremely narrow in parts and is not really suitable for a full size coach. This is out of the hands of the club and there is nothing we can do about it apart from issue fair warning that teams and supporters may want to consider mini bus or private cars when coming to Meadowbank.
Ashford do not have too bad a history in the FA Cup, making the 4th Qualifying Round twice and actually appearing in the 1st Round draw on the most recent occasion, following our draw at home to Forest Green Rovers, who were so nearly beaten when Gavin Smith’s effort deep in stoppage time beat the keeper and rolled agonisingly inches wide of the post. The news that we would be travelling to another non-league side, Team Bath, now defunct, in the 1st Round, were we to get through was something of a downer and we were well beaten by FGR in the replay on the Tuesday evening. FGR went on to play Derby County in a later round.
Shortwood, though, can better our record, having reached the 1st Round Proper in season 2013-2014 when they went down 0-4 at home to Port Vale. In an earlier round they had drawn at home to Aldershot but won the replay at the home of the Shots.