This was a massive win for the Tangerines after their trials and tribulations of the last 10 days and yet in some ways this was the hardest match of the lot, with Colliers Wood more or less laying siege to the Ashford goal for a full 25 minutes from the start of the second half in a sustained way that none of the three clubs who had won their games against Ashford recently had done.  Ashford’s makeshift defence, with new pairing George Marks and Ricky Farnden at the centre of it, had to work overtime to contain the speedy home forwards.  They were also assisted by some profligate finishing plus a couple or more sparkling saves from Tyler Tobin.

That was of course only for one period of the match and beforehand, an evenly matched first half with some excellent football had seen Ashford get their noses in front when a hurried clearance found its way to Max Webb more or less on the touchline and his deft first time volley from around 25 yards sailed over the keeper and into the net.  There was a touch of good fortune about it indeed in that it was not a particularly poor clearance, but it was an exquisite finish and went a long way to earning Webb the “Ashford Town Man of the Match” award.  It should be mentioned that Colliers Wood had what looked from the other end a fairly good shout for a penalty but this was waived away.

Back to the second half and the pressure from the home side eventually told and they deservedly equalised through Mario Embalo. 

Soon afterwards though came the moment that seemed to change the game.  Ashford were maybe just about starting to claw their way back into the match when there was a clear foul in midfield but the ball had found its way to Jack Beadle in on goal with only the keeper to beat.  The referee started to make a gesture as if to wave play on but inexplicably then blew his whistle to bring play all the way back for a free kick to the visitors.  There was no excuse:  it was a crass error as the advantage was obvious and not a difficult one to apply.  That said, the referee did at least not try to make any excuses, apologising and holding his hands up for the error both at the time and afterwards.

Somehow the perceived injustice seemed to galvanise Ashford and shortly afterwards came the next controversy when the visitors were eventually awarded a penalty for a foul by Colliers’ Will Boye, whose tackle put Samad Kazi on the ground as he advanced on goal.  The referee’s initial reaction was to award a corner but his assistant, who possibly had a clearer view, convinced him it was a penalty and so it was that, in the absence of both Mark Bitmead and Dan Fleming, who was at least on the bench, young Alex Fisher stepped up and scored with the perfect penalty, sending the keeper the wrong way. 

There were still 15 minutes left and once more it was generally even-stevens but there were no further goals and everyone from Ashford knew this had been a hard fought and very welcome three points against yet another excellent side who need only to improve their finishing to be right up there, at least on the basis of this performance.

Every game is a drama at the moment and judging by their 4-2 win at Chalky Lane on Tuesday against Chessington, Saturday’s visitors Raynes Park Vale will provide another stiff test.  On the injury front, there could be a welcome return for Lewis Taylor whilst Jack Beadle played a full 90 last night and Dan Fleming was on the bench, close to fitness, so the injured players are gradually returning, although players who have come in like George Marks and Ricky Farnden, who was close to the Ashford man of the match award himself last night, will ensure that picking a starting eleven is no easy task.