It took 120 minutes of often pulsating football to separate two teams both flying high in their respective leagues but in the end Ashford came out on top, scoring three goals in extra time to win this 1st Round Middlesex Senior Cup tie by four goals to one.

Ben Murray continues to rotate his squad with finesse and this time Ryan Dearden and Tom Hill took the full back positions.  Kieran Wright came back in to partner Russell Canderton at the back, with Jack Mullan having a rest from the bench.  Ashford were without  Elliott Jones, Joe Hughes and Rob Curtis, who took a knock on Saturday, but the latter two will hopefully be back raring to go on Saturday.  Elliott is now just 2-3 weeks away from returning.

The start was delayed due to referee Cresswell deciding at the last moment that Harefield’s white shirts clashed with Ashford’s tangerine and white stripes, not, for what it’s worth, an opinion shared by this writer.  Harefield did not have a second strip with them so Ashford were obliged to wear their alternative colours.

The match was fast and sometimes furious from the start with Harefield looking strong, with the stiff breeze, although hardly a hurricane, behind them.  Their long ball game allied with some fast front runners caused Ashford’s generally mean defence a few  problems and it was indeed the visitors who drew first blood on 15 minutes when a looping header found the top corner of the net.

Referee Cresswell, quick to caution Mark Bitmead and an opponent for overdoing the banter, then angered the Ashford bench by arguably not dealing properly in home eyes with a dangerous looking two footed tackle on Bitmead that left the Ashford man needing considerable treatment.  It merited just a yellow in the referee’s eyes.

Generally though both sides kept playing football and, following the turn round it was Ashford who benefited from the elements.   Nevertheless it took a long time to break the visitors down but finally, with just under 20 minutes left, it was Dan Fleming  who was slipped in and he made no mistake from close range.

Mr. Cresswell had only added just over two minutes in the first period despite several stoppages but seemed to want the match settled over 90 minutes as he added on more than six minutes in the second period.  It was to no avail though and extra time commenced.  Conor Moody then made the break through that Ashford had been threatening and, as so often happens in extra time, further goals followed.  Moody made it 3-1 with a blistering effort and just three minutes later Fleming made it safe as the referee played a good advantage, to make the final score 4-1.

It was CCL 2 Spartan League nil on the night as Bedfont Sports saw off the challenge of Hillingdon Borough just down the road, and Bedfont will now visit Ashford in the next round, which incidentally will necessitate the postponement of Ashford’s scheduled league clash at Chertsey Town on Tuesday 11 November.

In the League there were two interesting matches.  Windsor, who knocked seven past Chertsey last week, won by four goals to nil at Hartley Wintney, whilst Saturday’s opponents Mole Valley SCR surprisingly lost 2-5 at home to Horley Town.

There is another match at Short Lane this evening, when Ashford U18’s take on Chertsey U18’s in the Ryman Youth League, kick-off 7.45 p.m.

Finally, a word for groundsmen Steve Honey and Liam Balmer.  Ashford’s pitch has been improving week by week and last night it would be fair to describe it as absolutely immaculate, and surely appreciated by the players.  Thank you Steve and Liam for your hard work.