It is hard to know what to expect from Ashford at the moment, even during the course of one match.

Indeed Tuesday evening was a classic demonstration that in football, you never know what is going to happen.  Last night Ashford produced a first half of stunning quality at times against Mole Valley SCR, turning round three goals ahead when with slightly better luck and finishing it could easily have been six or seven.  Mole Valley’s only real threat had come from the speedy Michael Campbell up front but he had little support. 

All three goals came from Dan Fleming.  On Saturday he couldn’t have hit a cow’s bottom with a banjo but his finishing last night was superb.  That said, the first one was a tad fortunate as, latching on to a long through ball from Mark Bitmead, playing in an unusual midfield role, he sent in a shot that should have been saved but the Mole Valley keeper allowed it to slip under his body.  It was about his only mistake though as he went on to make any number of excellent saves as the match progressed.

That first goal came on just four minutes and it was two six minutes later again courtesy of Fleming.  After knocking on the door regularly throughout the rest of the half, with Samad Kazi hitting the woodwork twice, and Bitmead once, not to mention all the saves, a third goal arrived on 40 minutes when a thunderous shot from Tommy Brunton rebounded from the bar and Fleming was on hand to steer home another cool finish.

Ashford then made it four just three minutes into the second half, when it looked as if Russell Canderton got the decisive touch (although that is subject to correction) and it seemed game over.  In the space of just under 15 minutes though it all threatened to go wrong for the visitors.  Firstly Mole Valley pulled a goal back from the spot when Bobby Dormer was adjudged to have fouled Campbell.  From the writer’s admittedly distant position it looked like six of one and half a dozen of the other but the penalty was given and Campbell made no mistake.  Dormer was unluckily cautioned.

Dan Fleming then sustained a knock and had to leave the field, followed a few minutes later by another foul from Dormer, who had been playing supremely well, and he was dismissed from the field for a second caution.  Ashford steadied, with the reliable Rob Curtis on for Fleming but suddenly referee Davis was at it again, awarding a second penalty for Mole Valley, this time for alleged handball by Curtis.  It was a low cross that was intercepted and Mr. Davis’ explanation afterwards was that the Ashford player had his hands down, which is normally a good reason for not awarding a penalty!  Tyler Tobin made a tremendous save form the spot kick but Campbell  was first to the rebound and tapped home.

Suddenly it was 4-2 and with Ashford down to ten, the home side suddenly felt, unlikely as it had seemed, that they could get something from the match.  Some dogged Ashford defending was required for a while and the Tangerines were extremely grateful on 81 minutes to the lively Kazi whose pace saw him latch on to another defence splitting pass and then win the ball in a tackle with the onrushing home keeper, who injured himself, as Kazi got up to stoke the ball into an empty net.

The highly vocal Ashford support once again relaxed but the home side had the last word when Campbell became the second player on the pitch to record a hatrick.  It was tough luck on Tobin as he made a tremendous initial save, only for Campbell to poke home with Ashford seemingly mesmorised as the ball bounced invitingly for someone to clear, before Campbell nipped in.

That made it 5-3 to Ashford with nine minutes on the clock, plus stoppage time.  There was always going to be plenty of that, following the injury to the home keeper, who had bravely played on, and referee Davis ensured that there could be no complaints from the home side by playing a full seven minutes worth before the match was finally over, with five goals and three points in the bag, albeit at a cost for Ashford.

Ashford return to Short Lane on Saturday after six games on the road, when Frimley Green are the visitors.  More on that later in the week and don’t forget that Ashford’s Under-18’s are in action this evening (Wednesday).  The lads have not pulled up any trees this season it has to be said, but preparations are now beginning as we look to next season and your support would be welcomed.

Also, the work to repair the fencing around the ground is progressing under master craftsman Simon Munns and is resuming this afternoon around 3.00 p.m.  If anyone has a few spare hours and can offer a bit of labour please come down.