This evening (Monday) Ashford’s Under-18 side, now bolstered by many of Nick Bailey’s U16 side, will stage their final home match of the season at Short Lane against neighbours Bedfont Sports, who have enjoyed a fantastic season, finishing in 2nd spot in the Ryman Youth League and winning the County Senior Youth Cup

For Ashford it is now very much a case of starting to prepare for the future.  Although those involved obviously want to win, the main purpose of the Under-18’s and indeed, every other team in the club, is to prepare and ultimately bring on players to play in the 1st Team.  Over many years now, this has been a highly successful policy at Ashford and even this season, when the Under-18’s have generally not performed as we would have hoped, we have still seen players gradually coming through into 1st Team football.  The most obvious one recently has been Ilia Petrovic, who has been quietly impressive and with his massive frame he certainly has the physique to adapt to 1st Team football.  Another player to have made it into the 1st Team squad in April was Mason Roseboom.

Kick-off tonight is 7.45 pm as usual and the match will also mark the final “official” appearance of manager Sean Coldwell who is leaving us shortly to take up a coaching position in Austria.  Sean has been instrumental in various improvements at the Club and has played a full part in developing players.  We shall miss him and wish him every success in his new job.

With this season almost concluded, we now wait to see who will be coming into and who may be leaving the CCL next season.  We won’t find out until at least the third week of May when the FA usually make their decisions known as they affect Steps 5 and 6.  It is certain that champions Molesey will be promoted, although to which League is yet to be known.  Also definite, as far as anything can be in football, is the relegation of bottom club Frimley Green and possibly Chertsey Town.  Coming up from Division One will be AFC Croydon Athletic and possibly Chessington & Hook United, where a magnificent run in recent weeks has seen them needing to beat Alton Town next Saturday to clinch 3rd place and with it, promotion.  We hope that this season, the FA will not use the CCL as a supply chain for other leagues, with any number of clubs playing outside the CCL when their natural geographical area is within this league but, as all clubs have been warned, anyone can be moved if it is so deemed.

Coming down from Step 4 should be, inter alia, AFC Hayes, North Greenford United, Redhill, Horsham and East Grinstead, all of whom the CCL would see as potential “joinees”.  It won’t happen in every case though, as various clubs who were at higher levels have folded, creating reprieves.  There is a rule now requiring the bottom club in each division to be relegated whatever happens, so that should ensure both AFC Hayes and Horsham (surprisingly) come down, but both are on the fringes as far as the CCL is concerned.  All that can be reasonably asked though is that, at the very least, the League gets at least one club back in place of Molesey.

In Division One, a big well done to Abbey Rangers, who have finished in a promotion position in the Surrey Elite League and, having achieved the grade required to join the CCL, will be with us next season.

Other news is that we will be returning to Sutton United next season, not to play them, but to meet Mole Valley SCR, soon to be known as Sutton Common Rovers, who have secured a ground share at Gander Green Lane, a highly enterprising move indeed.

More news as we get it.