Ashford speed past Motormen
Isthmian League Cup, Fourth Round,
|Football in the modern era is a squad game, rather than just about the starting eleven and Mark Butler underlined the point by making seven changes from the side that defeated Dartford the previous weekend. Full debuts were awarded to youngsters Nick Hardy and Wayne Jackson, while Billy Jeffreys and Scott Harris returned from suspension and game time was provided for squad members Jon Palmer, Craig Ross and Scott Todd.
Their opponents were an enthusiastic Redbridge side, who may yet challenge for a place in the play-offs in Division One North but ultimately did not have quite as much in the tank as their visitors, who picked up their fourth win in an unbeaten run of five matches.
Ashford controlled the game from the outset, with Scott Todd firing over early on, while Scott Harris was twice denied by the legs of home goalkeeper Charlie Hasler. Ricky Wellard forced a save from Hasler in the 18th minute, before firing over from distance in the 22nd minute. Harris was again denied by Hasler on the half hour, before Wellard rattled the crossbar in the 36th minute, ensuring that the teams went in for tea with a blank scoresheet.
The Motormen started the second half well, and a header from Earl Sterling forced a save from Ross while his strike partner, Mark Nougher also headed wide. However, once the Tangerines had weathered this early storm they regained control of the match. It was therefore no great surprise when they opened the scoring in the 57th minute. A left sided corner was headed back across goal by Scott Weight for JON PALMER to score on what was both his 50th start and 100th appearance in Ashford colours.
Six minutes later, it was 2-0 when Ashford produced a passing movement of real quality to stretch out the home defence. The ball was eventually worked to SCOTT TODD, who nonchalantly flicked the ball over Hasler and into the net.
Redbridge responded immediately, with Nougher finding himself one-on-one with Ross, who saved well. Nougher again went close in the 73rd minute when his shot was scrambled away for a corner, from which Anton Agdomar headed wide. However, moments later, the hosts did pull a goal back when a fast break found substitute Harry Oniha, whose fierce strike gave Ross no chance.
That gave the Motormen a new impetus and although they enjoyed a lot of possession in the final twenty minutes, they were unable to test Craig Ross further. Part of the reason for that was the resolution of the defence in front of him, who helped the Tangerines to book a trip to Carshalton Athletic in the Quarter Final of this tournament, which they won in 2007.