Ashford Town (Middlesex) 1
AFC Hornchurch 0
AFC Hornchurch

FA Carlsberg Trophy, 1st Round Proper
Robert Parker Stadium
11th December 2010

Ashford entertained old friends from the Ryman Premier League AFC Hornchurch in this FA Trophy 1st round match, the first time the men from Short Lane had reached this round. Jamie Lawrence looked to get his side back on track following last Saturday’s reverse to Slough Town and their extra time exit from this season’s Middlesex Senior Cup on Tuesday at the hands of Harrow Borough.

With iconic striker Isaiah Rankin not quite ready to return from injury, Jamie Lawrence continued to partner Jones Awuah up front, with Tyrone Berry operating wide right and Jordan Kiffin left.

Despite creating fewer chances than their Essex rivals, Ashford rode their luck to dump the Ryman Premier League side out of this year’s competition. Twice Hornchurch struck the woodwork, with the profligacy of their strikers coupled with fine defending by a resolute Ashford defence, notably Paul Burgess, Russ Canderton and club skipper Billy Jeffreys, accounting for their downfall.

Burgess was called into action early in the match to make saves from Martin Tuohy and Lewis Smith then Smith latched on to a weak headed back-pass but could only hit the side netting as Burgess forced him wide.

The Middlesex side survived a scare on the quarter hour when Rickie Hayles headed against the bar from a corner then, on 19 minutes, Frankie Curley became the first of 7 Hornchurch players to be yellow carded by referee Mr Breaksper for bringing down Akwasi Edusei from behind as the Ashford wing-back sprinted clear. Luke Hickie curled his free-kick too close to Darren Behcet who gathered comfortably.

A cross from the Hornchurch left, after a neat back flick by Smith, found the usually prolific Tuohy whose weak shot was easily saved by Burgess then, at the other end, Hickie played in a ball to Lawrence’s feet and took the return in his stride before firing just wide from 25 yards.

Hornchurch’s skipper Elliot Styles climbed above Lawrence to make an important headed clearance from Tyrone Berry’s teasing cross from the right, just before the break then, 5 minutes into the second half, the lively Smith embarked on a jinking run before curling a shot just wide.

Smith managed to get past Oscar Lubwama, shortly after, cleverly making time to deliver a dangerous, measured cross that just eluded attackers and defenders alike to run out to safety. Smith prodded just wide after the ball had been half cleared from a corner but gradually the Hornchurch attacks became more sporadic as Ashford pushed on with Hickie, Kiffin and Alain Behi getting further forward to support their strikers.

Joe Benjamin replaced Tuohy on 77 minutes and immediately found Michael Spencer to the left who shifted the ball on to his right foot before curling a great shot past Burgess that, to the relief of the home side, struck Burgess’ left hand post.

Ronnie Fletcher thoroughly deserved the caution received for his dangerously late challenge on Jeffreys, we heard the crack of what turned out to be studs on shin pads, and were concerned when Jeffreys stayed down fearing a repeat of the broken leg sustained against Dartford last season, but, after receiving treatment from physio Andy Tomkins, he resumed his place alongside Canderton for the remainder of the match.

Ashford Town (Middlesex) FC

 

AFC Hornchurch

Paul Burgess

GK

Darren Behcet

Oscar Lubwama

2

Dave McSweeny

Akwasi Edusei

3

Rickie Hayles

Russ Canderton

4

Elliot Styles (C)

Billy Jeffreys (C)

5

Ronnie Fletcher

Alain Behi

6

Dave Collis

Tyrone Berry 87 for 12

7

Johnathan Hunt 84 for 16

Luke Hickie

8

Frankie Curley

Jamie Lawrence

9

Martin Tuohy 77 for 12

Jones Awuah 90+5 for 16, Goal 90+1

10

Lewis Smith

Jordan Kiffin

11

Michael Spencer

Mark Bitmead 87 for 7

12

Joe Benjamin 77 for 9

Jack Franks

13/17

Sam Holloway

Spencer Taffurelli

14

Tommy Black

Tom Kanek

15

Billy Coyne

Martynas Butkus 90+5 for 10

16

Tambeson Eyong 84 for 7

 

Referee:

Mr. C Breakspear

       

With a trip to Essex on Tuesday in everyone’s thoughts and just four minutes of time added on to play, Ashford finally broke the deadlock. With Hornchurch’s discipline once again letting them down, they gave away yet another free kick on the Ashford left that was played into the Hornchurch penalty area where Behi reacted fastest to aim a shot goal-wards but the ball was deflected to Jamie Lawrence who squared to Jones Awuah and the Ghanaian international made no mistake from 10 yards. Cue delirium from the small but vociferous band of Ashford supporters.

Predictably, Hornchurch came back for the final minutes in search of the equaliser but Canderton, Jeffreys et al held on to deny them the chance of being pulled out of the hat in Monday’s 2nd round draw.

Ashford will play a lot better than this, but it is the mark of what Jamie is trying to achieve at Short Lane, when his men can grind out a win against very good opposition when not completely firing on all cylinders.

Final note, having read Hornchurch’s account of the match, written by someone called Tony Middleton, I am amazed at the unprofessional tirade at the start of his report. To précis it for those that haven’t seen it, according to this ‘representative’ of a fellow senior non-league club, we have “a depressing ground at the best of times” and we play in “insipid tangerine and white stripes” and in front of a “pathetically low crowd” (that, incidentally, out sung the ‘thousands’ of travelling Hornchurch supporters for most of the match). He goes on to suggest that the seven cautions metered out to the Hornchurch players were on the whim of the referee and completely undeserved.

It’s well known throughout the leagues that Hornchurch’s match reports are completely biased and laughably inaccurate; you only have to read previous accounts of matches to see that. I suggest, if we meet in the future, that Mr Middleton, who obviously despises all things Ashford, doesn’t put himself out to light up our ‘depressing’ ground with his glorious presence.

He liked the parakeets though!

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