Ashford Town (Middlesex) 0

Bishops Cleeve 0

The FA Cup with Budweiser, Preliminary Round
Robert Parker Stadium
31st August 201

For clubs like Ashford Town (Middlesex) and Bishops Cleeve, The FA Cup is a special competition because it offers a chance, however remote, to mix with the biggest clubs in the land. More importantly, success in the world's oldest football tournament can be lucrative to a club, thanks to The FA's generous prize fund.

Of course, the money and prestige can create pressure on teams and may have been a factor in this match becoming a turgid affair, despite an action-packed opening.

Ashford manager Paul Burgess was attending a wedding in Poland, so left assistant Steve Scott and coach Ben Murray in charge. Striker Kofi Lockhart-Adams made his second debut for the Ash Trees, rejoining after a brief spell at Hitchin Town, but it was the visitors' Edward Williams whose created the first chance of the game. The Mitres' winger hit a fierce shot which drew a fine save from Ashford's Paul McCarthy. Moments later, visiting 'keeper Jamie Moore raced off his line to save from Mark Bitmead.

Ashford forward Awoala Kpunpamo was denied by good defending from Ryan Paddock in the 21st minute, but by then the visitors were dominating possession and it was only profligate finishing that prevented them from taking the lead. During this dominant spell, the Mitres' best opportunity fell to Adam Mayo, whose shot was deflected wide.

Moments before half time, the home side produced the best move of the match. A rapid counter-attack sent Bitmead away down the right flank and his low cross was met by Lockhart-Adams, whose shot was brilliantly saved by Moore. After the match, referee Ellis Clark - who, along with his assistants, had a fine game - remarked that he had instinctively applauded Moore's reaction stop.

That was the last meaningful action of the first half, and the second half quickly settled into a midfield battle between two evenly matched sides. As a consequence, neither team ever really looked like scoring, although an overhit cross from Samad Kazi nearly caught out Moore and gave the Tangerines the lead.

There was a flurry of excitement in stoppage time, as Lockhart-Adams and Paddock tangled, the incident earning both players a yellow card. The draw was a fair reflection of a match that neither side deserved to lose and the replay promises to be an equally close affair.     

{pgslideshow id=63.|width=600|height=400|delay=3|image=...|pgslink=...|desc=Photos from the FA Cup match with Bishops Cleeve by Steve McCarthy}

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