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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other matches this weekend are as follows:

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

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

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

Conor U15s v Woking Cougars 11.30 a.m.

Joe U17s v Walton Casuals 1pm (Friendly)

Ashford Town 7 – 7 Pitch

Graham U10s v Spelthorne Sports 10.00 a.m.

Away Matches

Larry U12s v Kew Association

Fin U13s v Hook Youth

Martin U14s v Wallington Wanderers

Ben U15s v Ewell Saxons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

FC Hatton 10.30

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

Conor U-15s v Esher Colts 10am

 

Ben U15s v Celtic – County Cup 11.30

 

Joe U17s v Oxshott Royals 1.30

Ashford Sports Club – 9 – 9 Pitch

Larry U12s v Kew Association 11am

 

Ashford Town 5 – 5 Pitch

 

Matt U8s v Hampton Youth 11am

 

 

Ashford Town 7 – 7 Pitch

 

Nelson U10s v Spelthorne Sports 10.30

 

Matt U9s v Raynes Park 11.30

 

 

Ashford Town – Outfield

 

Gary v Hanworth Sports 10.30

 

Marco U15s v Rushmoor Saints 12.30

Ashford Town Stadium

 

No Fixture

Away Games

 

Tommy U7s v Kingstonian

 

Andy U8s v Claygate

 

Craig U13s v Kew Park Rangers

 

Fin U13s v Hampton – County Cup

 

Martin U14s v Victoria

 

Tim U16s v Doverhouse Lions

 

Carl U17s v Horsley

 

Ladies v Colne Valley

No Games

 

Billy U7s

 

Graham U10s

 

 

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

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

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

Man of the match: James Cartwright

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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