Ashford gave yet another reasonable performance on Saturday away to Bedford Town but just can’t seem to break the current losing sequence that now extends to six matches as they lost to the only goal of the game, scored by Bedford’s Ollie Swain in the 71st minute of the match.  The goal came from a simple corner kick that, for once, Ashford failed to properly defend.

In truth, chances throughout the match had been at a minimum and as the game progressed, it was hard to see either side breaking the deadlock.  Ashford’s best opportunity was probably in the first period when a fierce effort from James Cottee was beaten out somehow by the Bedford keeper Kyle Forster to Romario Jonas who sent it flying back towards goal only for the stopper to make another excellent save.  Indeed such was his performance, especially his handling, that he was voted the Bedford man of the match.

Tyler Tobin was equally proficient at the other end and play went from end to end all afternoon.  Despite the wealth of talent in the squad, no-one has taken on Mark Bitmead’s mantle as out and out scorer and it was much the same today as all Ashford’s attempts were thwarted but every player could walk off the field knowing they had given their all  but it just didn’t happen.  Right at the death Forster finally missed one but the cross was a little high for Cottee who still got to it but his effort just cleared the bar.

If Ashford were playing poorly, this sequence of defeats would perhaps be easier to accept in a funny sort of way but, there were positives:  skipper Russ Canderton was back and lasted the full 90 minutes whilst newcomer Tom Howard looks a good acquisition, especially as he has not played for several months. 

We move on and the next match is at home to Hanworth Villa on Tuesday evening in the 2nd Round of the Middlesex Charity Cup, the competition we won last season.  Villa are never an easy proposition although they didn’t so well on Saturday, losing 1-4 at Guildford City.  Their manager is Rufus Brevett who is remembered as an excellent pro.  The match has to be decided on the night and the winners will be at home in the next round to either Rayners Lane or Harrow Borough.

Prior to that the Under-18’s this evening (Monday) are at home to Bedfont Sports and with a host of new signings, there is hope that we may do a little better tonight after what has been an indifferent season for the Under-18’s so far.  Kick-off is 7.45.

As has been said, despite the run of defeats recently, usually by the odd goal (Hanwell being an exception) we have played well in many of those matches, certainly for large parts of games.   You can’t blame luck but it is certainly true that we haven’t had much of it lately.  As a result although we face another very tough match away to Bedford Town on Saturday we will be up for it, and whilst they would never think that anyway, the home side should not be anticipating an easy ride.

The match kicks off at 3.00 at Bedford’s superb home ground and the address is The Eyrie, Meadow Lane, Cardington, Bedfordshire, MK44 3LW.  It is a journey of around 61 miles from ground to ground, one of the longest of the season, via the M25 and M1, leaving the M1 at Junction 13 on to the A421  Our opponents have not been without their own problems this season, including one occasion when the players apparently refused to take the field.  That seems to be all over now though and they are in a good run of form having won their last three matches against Fleet Town, Egham and Aylesbury United.  Their last defeat was on Saturday 6 January when they lost 0-2 at Hartley Wintney.

Previous meetings (just three in league games) have all been tight, and have all ended level.  In our home match in November we drew two apiece, our scorers being Will Boye and Alex Fisher, from the spot.  Even the one other match, a friendly played in August 2006, was drawn one apiece.

Below are this week’s junior fixtures, as received from Nick Bailey

Ashford Sports Club - Club House 11-a-side Pitch
Paul U14s v Bracknell 12:30
Fin U14s v Sheen Lions 2pm

Ashford Sports Club – Short Lane 11-a-side Pitch
Martin U16s v Epsom & Ewell 10am
Ian U13s v Met Police 11:30

Ashford Town 5 – 5 Pitch 1
Red U7s v Whitton 10am
Colin U8s v Esher Blues 12pm

Ashford Town 7 – 7 Pitch 1
Andy U10s v Motspur 11am

Ashford Town 7 – 7 Pitch 3
Sam U9s v Whitton 9:30am
Steve U9s v Woking 11am

Ashford Town 9 – 9 Pitch
Darren U11s v Met Police 9am
Iain U11s v Spelthorne 10am
Matt U11s v Ruts Youth 11:15am

Away Games
Chris U7s Juniors v Barnes Eagles
Michael U8s v Sheen Lions
Neil U9s v Spelthorne
Bill U9s v Epsom Athletic
Chris U9s v Hampton & Richmond
Matt U10s v Staines
Rhys U10s v Kingston Town
Ryan U10s v Claygate
Graham U12s v Lyne
Andy U12s v CB Hounslow
Darren U12s v Lyne
Craig U15s v Old Coulsdon
Steve U15s v Kew Park Rangers

Ashford Ladies are at home to Brentford Ladies on Sunday, kick-off 2.00 p.m. and will be hoping to repeat the cup success they enjoyed recently against Brentford when they won 3-1.

British Airways are also at home on Saturday to Sporting Hackney, kick-off 3.00 p.m. and will be looking for a further three points as they look to intensify their bid for promotion into the Combined Counties League at the end of the season.

Before summarising yesterday evening’s match, I wish to make it clear that the match summaries on this page are meant to be just that, not fully blown match reports.  I have no wish to spend time during games recording every incident as it spoils my enjoyment of the game.  I am sorry that, as a result, they are apparently regarded as tardy.

As to last night we lost the match by the only goal, scored in the third minute of stoppage time in the first half when only two minutes had been signalled and there seemed no reason to go beyond that.  That is typical of what has been happening lately and it came from a rare individual error when Romario Jonas was unfortunate to mistime his header, leading to a goal for Aylesbury’s Horatio Hirst.

Much of the rest of the match was a hard determined performance by both sides, who gave their all.  The general view was that a draw would have been the fairest outcome and we certainly pressed hard for much of the second half, but without finding a real cutting edge.  In many of the matches we have lost recently, we have played some excellent football, such as at Hartley Wintney last week, when a draw was the least we deserved.  Late goals at the end of matches though or at half-time have been our downfall too often but everyone’s view of last night’s match would doubtless have been different if we had sneaked the goal rather than our opponents.  Aylesbury have put a more factual and very fair report upon their website for anyone who wants to read it.

We had two debutants last night.  One was Tom Howard who has not played for a while, but was previously with Met Police and Merstham plus goalkeeper Craig Bradshaw who many supporters recognised from his time at Camberley.  Craig deputised for Tyler Tobin, who had been taken ill in the morning and could do nothing about the goal.  Other than that he was solid as a rock while Tom, who spent a long time at Chelsea as a youngster showed some very skilful touches and looks to be a good acquisition.

We go to Bedford Town on Saturday and there will be more on that one later in the week.

The Under-18’s are due to be at home to Staines Town U18 this evening but the weather may put the game in doubt.  Best check with the club (01784 245908) beforehand.

Ashford are going through an annoying patch at the moment when they can’t even pick up any points when they play well, let alone in a match of this nature where only one side deserved to win.  That said in the match on Saturday against Hanwell Town, there was a rousing fight back in the first half after conceding twice, only to be followed by a second half performance that can only be described as deflating for all concerned.

Hanwell started well and made it count on 9 minutes when Oliver Duffy struck from a free kick.  Samad Kazi then seemed to have done everything right when he broke through, rounded the keeper and rolled the ball towards the empty goal.  It looked all the world as if it was going in and probably would have done in normal conditions but with the pitch in a heavy condition, a defender made it back and just managed to clear it off the line.

To add insult to injury Hanwell doubled their lead very quickly.  Tyler Tobin beat out a hard effort but he couldn’t hold it and it rebounded to Wayne Carter who made no mistake.

Ashford rallied well and were knocking on the door, culminating in arguably the best goal of the game when Jack Beadle cleverly released Alex Fisher down the left flank and his cross was fired home by Max Webb.

Ashford continued to have the better of it for the remainder of the half but were unable to equalise before half-time.  Everyone though had formed the impression that it was only a matter of time, an illusion shattered after just four minutes of the resumption when Tobin miscued a pass back, succeeding only in looping the ball into the air and presenting Hanwell’s Peter Dean with one of the easiest goals he will score.

It was a rare error and there was still 41 minutes to rescue the situation but the goal seemed to draw the life out of the team and it was fairly evident long before the end that the match was lost.  Hanwell only scored one more through Harvey Killeen on 78 minutes to give a final scoreline of 4-1 in favour of the visitors.  Things went from bad to worse when Mitchal Gough was sent off, quickly followed by debutant Lori Festus, who created something of an undesirable record by picking up two yellow cards within six minutes of entering the field.  We won’t comment on the referee  but this game was the first league match all season in which Ashford have suffered a sending-off, let alone two, the only previous one being that incurred by Yah-ya El Kabouche in the FA Trophy match against Hastings and for those who didn’t realise, the referee that day was also Mr. Rudd.  The sending-offs came late though and had little to do with the result, other than emphasising it.

The Tangerines have more pressing concerns.  The squad looked wafer thin on Saturday with Scott Weight, James Cottee and Jabir Laraba all unavailable.  Fortunately the next match, also at home, comes quickly, on Tuesday evening when Aylesbury United will be the visitors and it is a chance to rebound.  Whatever it takes, we need to quickly restore the confidence that saw us flying in the first three months of the season.

There are two matches scheduled at Short Lane this week, as Wednesday is due to see us entertaining Staines Town U18 in the Ryman Youth League when rumour has it that Ashford’s squad will be much boosted.

Ashford need their luck to change.  For the third game in a row and despite playing generally very well on a difficult heavy surface against a good  Hartley Wintney side, another match was lost on Tuesday evening, yet again as the result of a very late goal, two minutes into stoppage time.  This defeat was particularly frustrating as Ashford generally played better than their hosts and deserved a draw at the very least.  What matters though is who puts the ball in the net and the very late goal from Hartley’s Rowan Vines , his second of the game, ensured the points stayed at home.

As is procedure, there was no award for the” Hitchcock & King” Ashford Man of the Match last night, as the game was lost but had there been, it would surely have gone to Jack Beadle, playing down either flank, but mostly on the left side.  He gave his full back a torrid evening at times and was instrumental in Ashford’s opening goal, weaving his way past two defenders and crossing for James Cottee to help it on to the unmarked Max Herbert who made no mistake.

Despite the treacherous surface, both sides showed great endeavour and although the home side had enjoyed less of the ball, they always looked dangerous when coming forward and they equalised on the stroke of half-time.  Mitchal Gough, usually imperious as he brings the ball out of defence, hit a poor pass for once, leaving the dangerous Vine to score from close range with Ashford defenders caught out of position.

There was no let up in effort with both sides giving it their all and Ashford had ample opportunities to re-take the lead, all spurned sadly, although  Paul Strudley in the home goal pulled off several smart saves, one of which drew gasps of admiration from all.  Tyler Tobin was also busy and was perhaps fortunate not to concede a penalty at one point, the referee deeming that he had got something on the ball before his opponent tumbled.

As the conditions took their toll, play eventually slowed a little and a point apiece seemed reasonably fair as the game went past the 90th minute.  Hartley though broke Ashford hearts at the death when a deflected cross found Vines whose controlled header gave Tobin no chance in the 92nd minute.  Even after that Cottee had the opportunity to level matters up but it wasn’t to be.

It’s gone now and no point worrying as the Tangerines now have two home matches in quick succession starting with Hanwell Town on Saturday, followed on Tuesday evening by the visit of Aylesbury United. 

Two goals in the last eight minutes sent Ashford to defeat on Saturday when the match looked for all the world as if it would end in a point apiece.

It was the second defeat in a row for the Tangerines, although they played far better than the previous Saturday, matching their promotion seeking opponents AFC Dunstable all the way until those last fateful minutes.  Ashford had the better of the opening exchanges but overall there wasn’t too much between the sides and the opening goal, scored by the visitors came rather out of the blue in the 37th minute.  Somehow, Tyler Tobin found himself racing from his goal and it looked as if he had successfully cleared the ball but it took a ricochet at some point and the matter ended with AFC’s Bernie Christie tapping home into an unguarded net.

It was a frustrating situation at half-time and as the game resumed, nothing too significant seemed to be happening.  That was until the 64th minute when Max Herbert, unchallenged some 10 yards outside the penalty area, unleashed an absolute blaster of a shot that gave the visiting keeper no chance.  For a good while after that Ashford were clearly on top overall, although breaking down the well organised defence of the visitors was not proving easy.

As the match meandered towards the end, a draw definitely looked on the cards but with just eight minutes left, the ball was bouncing in the box and AFC’s Jermaine Hall got his head on it to nudge his side ahead again.  Ashford had little choice now but to push men forward but it was to no avail and with just two minutes on the clock, Dunstable found themselves in the clear, leaving Hall to double his personal tally and ensure all three points for his side.

Ashford were unlucky to end up on the wrong end of a 1-3 defeat but the tendency to concede late goals was their undoing, just as it had been the previous week.

The next match is away on Tuesday evening to Hartley Wintney, when Ashford will hope to have Mitchal Gough back.  Kick-off is 7.30 p.m. and the address of the ground is Memorial Playing Fields, Green Lane, Hartley Wintney, RG27 8DL.  There is adequate parking and it is a journey of 27 miles each way along the M3 (take Junction 4 or 4A).  If there is a lot of rain as forecast, it would be sensible to check that the match is on before travelling – HW’s number is 01252 843586.

The next home match is next Saturday when Hanwell Town will provide the opposition.

The Ladies got back on track on Sunday, with a 3-1 win over Brentford Ladies, whilst the Under-18’s are due to be at home this evening (Monday) against Staines Town U18 in the Ryman Youth League, kick-off 7.45 p.m.

There are various events coming up shortly.  On Friday 26 January we have a quiz in the clubhouse.  It is just £3 per person and teams should be of 2-6 people.  We need at least one team from each section of the club and any visiting clubs who would like to enter are very welcome.  (Just phone 07956 930719 to enter).  It is intended as a fun evening although it is likely we will have prizes for the winning sides and bar offers on the night.

We also have planned an “end of winter” party in February and for the Ladies, a Hen Night, probably on Friday 2 March.  That will be strictly no men (other than the performers, of course).  Details on these two events to follow.

Ashford are back at home on Saturday and will face tough opposition in the shape of AFC Dunstable, who will arrive at Short Lane in 2nd place in the table.  Their recent form shows a 2-0 win at home to Aylesbury last Saturday followed on Tuesday evening by a 2-2 draw at Northwood, who came back from two goals down at half-time.

We drew two apiece at Dunstable earlier in the season, both goals coming from Mark Bitmead. The programme for the match is available to download by clicking here.

After two solid home wins, we suffered a setback last Saturday losing 1-2 away to Aylesbury United.  We possibly played them at the wrong time as they had just changed managers and had various players on show who were new to the club and eager to impress.  We probably did enough to merit a draw but too many of our players had something of an off day and we didn't realy deserve anything from the match.  The goal we did score though was an absolute rocket of a header from Max Webb.

We have a fun quiz coming up on Friday 26 January.  We need teams of between 2 - 6 people to enter, the cost being just £3 per person.  We want at least one team from the 1st Team, the Ladies, supporters, Committee, any visiting clubs, even referees.  There will be prizes for the winners and bar deals on the night.  Just put the name of your team on the noticeboard if you wish to enter.  Quizmaster is Mr. Paul Mann.

On Tuesday we travel to Hartley Wintney for another tough league match and kick-off is 7.30 p.m..  There will be more details on the web site but the address of the ground is Green Lane, Hartley Wintney.  On Monday the Under-18's will be playing at home to Staines Town in a Ryman Youth League match.

Ashford were unable to build upon the two previous home wins on Saturday, losing 1-2 away to Aylesbury United, at Chesham FC.

Ashford patron Russell Grant was in attendance but even he could not have predicted such a flat performance with too many experienced players off their game.  That said, the result could still be considered a little harsh as Ashford did enough to merit a draw but the form that sent Marlow crashing on Tuesday was just not there.

There were no goals in the first half, although an effort from Jacki Beadle was ruled out for offside.  In the second half though on a dreary day weather wise it was Aylesbury who went ahead from the spot when Samad Kazi’s desperate tackle from behind  was adjudged a foul.  This was on 54 minutes.

The goal saw Ashford come to life and it took just two minutes to equalise, a corner being met by a thumping header from the unmarked Max Webb, to make the scores level.

One hoped that this would be the spark for Ashford to take the match by the scruff of the neck and go on to win and the Tangerines certainly played better than in the first half.  There were two half hearted penalty shouts but they would both have been harsh on the home side who then further stunned the Tangerines with a second and ultimately the winning goal with six or so minutes left on the clock.

Ashford can do no more than congratulate their opponents who certainly did not look like a side close to the foot of the table and re-group for the next game which is not until next Saturday when another tough match is in the offing as we entertain AFC Dunstable, kick-off 3.00 p.m. at Short Lane.

There is no youth match this week so at least the pitch will now have a good rest now before Saturday’s match.

Following two home wins in three days, Ashford seem to have found some of their early season form and are back into 7th place in the table.

This Saturday’s match sees the team travelling to play Aylesbury United who are based at Chesham United FC this season.  The address of the ground is Chesham United FC, The Meadow, Amy Lane, Chesham, Bucks, HP5 1NE  and kick off as usual is at 3.00 p.m.

This will be the first meeting this season against the Ducks as they are known.  Last season we managed to win away when Aylesbury were playing at Thame United, by two goals to one, courtesy of Mark Bitmead and Russell Canderton, whilst the home match was drawn.

Although it would be foolish to read anything into it, our opponents have been going through something of a poor run recently, their last league win coming at the end of November when they won by the only goal of the game at Chalfont St Peter, an achievement incidentally that we have not managed in our previous five matches at Chalfont who are surely now our main bogie side.  Aylesbury have slipped to 21st place in the table but have matches in hand over all the clubs immediately above them.

The four goals scored against Marlow on Tuesday evening have restored us to second place in the goals table, behind Cambridge City, who are five ahead.

As we get going again after the holidays, the Ladies are scheduled to be away to Hampton & Richmond on Sunday but one senses it would be wise to check that the game is on if you are thinking of going.  There are also plenty of junior matches scheduled and these will be listed tomorrow.

On a very wet and very windy evening, both Ashford and Marlow did their best to combat the elements and at times produced a fairly decent match considering the weather.  Ashford’s pitch also stood up to the test well, with no standing water appearing at any time, thanks to the gravel underneath and the drainage pipes underneath the pitch and of course, the hard work of those responsible.

The game was decided by a four goal burst by the Tangerines within the space of 11 minutes in the second half.  Marlow scored the first and last goals leaving the final scoreline 4-2 in Ashford’s favour.

The visitors had the better of the elements in the first half although it was doubtful if they were of great advantage.  Nevertheless it was Marlow who went ahead with a fairly bizarre goal direct from a corner kick taken by Charlie Barton.  Keeper Tyler Tobin seemed to have dealt with the wickedly swerving kick well enough, seemingly catching it cleanly on his goal line but the relevant assistant deemed that it had crossed the line.  Just eight minutes had passed but neither side were able to penetrate during the remainder of the half.

The half time break saw the wind and rain ever more prominent and Ashford were starting to knock on the door.  A hard pressed Marlow defence held out until the 57th minute when Ashford were awarded a penalty for a trip on Alex Fisher.  The visitors disputed it but there was no changing Mr. Simpson’s mind and Fisher made no mistake to bring the sides level, after a long delay while Marlow keeper Simon Grant decided he needed to take his boots off and put them on again.  It was quite an interesting spot of gamesmanship but he was wasting his time with the ice cool Fisher waiting calmly until he was ready.

Ashford tails were up and Marlow suddenly had no answer as the goalsy piled up.  Just three minutes after levelling, a superb square ball from Jack Beadle freed up Tommy Brunton who shot powerfully from the edge of the area.  Marlow keeper Simon Grant was able to push it out but only to Dan Fleming who hit the back of the net with gusto.

Just three minutes later it was 3-1 as another crisp movement ended with the excellent James Cottee hammering home another full blooded effort that hit the underside the bar and bounced in.  To emphasise their domination at that point, the fourth goal came just five minutes later when another excellent move saw Scott Weight back flicking the ball in.

The chances continued to accrue but Marlow steadied the boat a little and with Ashford taking their foot off the gas, it was the visitors who reduced the arrears on 82 minutes from a deflected free kick off the wall, scored by Kelvin Bossman.

Another free kick moments afterwards came in dangerously but it was dealt with and Ashford saw the match out for their second home win in three days and a jump into 7th place in the table.

Next up is an away trip to Aylesbury United on Saturday and they are ground sharing at Chesham United this season.  There will be more on this one later in the week.

Ashford’s first ever match against their Portsmouth opponents, Moneyfields FC, on Saturday resulted in a hard fought win for the Tangerines by two goals to one.

This is Moneyfields’ first season at this level but they have already established a reputation as being tough opponents, arriving at Short Lane in 4th place after going some 15 league games at the start of the season without tasting defeat.  They have wobbled a little lately though and with Ashford looking determined to put the disappointment of the Cambridge City result behind them from last Saturday, an evenly matched and keenly fought encounter ensued.

Ashford were without Kameron English who has decided to return to Marlow, and also skipper Russell Canderton whose fight against back injury goes on.  Scott Weight returned though and Mitchal Gough also played, forming a good partnership with Romario Jonas at the back.  Indeed it was Gough who came closest for Ashford in the first half, seeing a ferocious header from Jack Beadle’s corner hitting the bar and rebounding to safety.  At the other end two super saves in quick succession from Tyler Tobin ensured parity as the teams turned round.

The endeavour from both sides did not slacken and it was looking as if whoever scored first may well go on to win and on this occasion it was the Tangerines who went ahead on 67 minutes, the goal being scored by James Cottee who just about got the final touch following a prolonged goalmouth scramble.  It was controversial as the visitors were adamant the ball had not crossed the line and it took some time for matters to cool down.  The protests went for a long time and more than one of Ashford’s opponents could not have complained if they had been sent off for the ferocity of their protests.

Ashford’s determination to put one or two indifferent performances behind them in recent weeks had been evident throughout, the goal only serving to enforce that determination.  The the destiny of the points seemed assured when the lead was doubled, this time from the spot following a handling offence.  The penalty was taken by Alex Fisher, who made no mistake..

Once again there were protests but far more muted this time which possibly tells its own story but Ashford were now two up.  As Ashford supporters will be only too aware, the Tangerines have contrived to throw away such leads more than once this season but not on this occasion although there was a late scare inevitably when Ryan Penney scored for the visitors with a minute of normal time on the clock.  That was it though and a valuable three points against a top four side were in the bag and Ashford were  back up to ninth.

It doesn’t get any easier with Ashford now at home again tomorrow evening (Tuesday) in a re-arranged match against Marlow, kick-off 7.45 p.m. at Short Lane.