Ashford seem to be right back on form and certainly gave an excellent performance on Saturday, beating 7th placed Hartley Wintney by 5 goals to 1 on a day when the margin of victory could have been higher.

Two goals in the opening ten minutes for the Tangerines gave them a great start.  The first saw Rob Curtis sweeping the ball out to Samad Kazi on the left flank and his pace as he cut inside, saw him leave two defenders behind, before he pulled the ball back for ace marksman Mark Bitmead to score from close range.

Two minutes later Max Webb won a tough tackle in midfield and found Bitmead, this time on the right flank and his superbly angled cross found the speedy Kazi running in to score at the far post.

The visitors understandably looked a little shell shocked at this stage and Ashford, playing some lovely football at times, created plenty of further chances, none of which were taken.  As the match went on Hartley steadied themselves and showed that they were capable of some good football themselves but Tyler Tobin, in goal, was rarely threatened.

There was no further scoring before the break but Ashford were jolted out of any complacency within two minutes of the resumption.  Hartley’s main striker, Ross Cook, made no mistake with a second effort following a good save from Tobin.  It was a sloppy moment for the Ashford defence and one wondered if the failure to finish more of the chances that came their way in the first half might come back to haunt them.

Those fears were allayed just seven minutes later when Dan Fleming got himself in on the act, scoring Ashford’s third goal and then, just three minutes later it was Fleming again who finished off what may well be a candidate for goal of the season with numerous players involved in a flowing movement, with Tommy Brunton, later awarded an extremely tight “Ashford Man of the Match Award” prominent.

Soon after, any hopes that the visitors might have had of getting back in the game were extinguished when Cook found himself sent off for an alleged headbut after Alex Fisher had been upended on the edge of his own area.  Jack Mullan was cautioned for his part in the aftermath. Sadly, Cook rather lost his head and then reacted to some fairly innocuous comments, vaulting the fence to get at a group of spectators.  Fortunately, his own goalkeeper and other colleagues were sensible enough to block him off and he was eventually persuaded to leave the pitch.  Doubtless he will be subject to an additional misconduct charge in addition to the ban he will receive for the dismissal but it should be said that the match overall was played in a generally excellent spirit and that this was very much an isolated incident.

Ashford dominated possession for the final 20 minutes or so, although the visitors never stopped trying to play football and the icing on the cake was a fifth goal from Rob Curtis who smashed home from the edge of the penalty area.  Sam Baffour came on and with both him and Kazi on the field, Ashford currently have some incredible pace down the flanks.

The attendance was down yesterday which was surprising after last week’s win against Colliers Wood but still the second highest in the Division.  Camberley are continuing to look unbeatable and won again yesterday at Epsom & Ewell by four goals to two.  They led 3-0 at half-time but a fight back by the home side saw them claw the scoreline back to 2-3, before conceding a further goal at the death.

Cove also won but both Molesey and Windsor were surprisingly beaten which only goes to show that on their day any team in the League can beat anyone else.  That statement leads naturally to Ashford’s midweek match on Tuesday away to CB Hounslow in the Quarter Final of the Southern Combination Cup, to be played at Bedfont & Feltham FC.  CB are enjoying a rich vein of form at the moment in Division One and will present tough opposition, compared perhaps to previous seasons.  Although there may be a change or two, Ashford Ben Murray has his sights on this competition and will field a strong team.  Kick-off is 7.45 p.m.