ASHFORD U-18  v  NORTHWOOD U-18 TONIGHT, 7.45 p.m.

Inspired football at times during the match enabled Ashford to win at Hanworth Villa on Tuesday evening in the 1st Round of the Middlesex Senior Cup.  The reward is a 2nd Round tie at home to AFC Hayes, who overcame Harefield United 4-2 last night, on Tuesday 17 November.

It is Ashford’s intention to treat all the cups we are in this season with the utmost respect and manager Ben Murray named just about his strongest available squad for the match.  He was rewarded by some exhilarating football from his side in the opening 25 minutes.  Hanworth Villa, who are a good side as we all know, were hard pressed to man the pumps in that period but they could not prevent a crisp effort from Jack Beadle putting the Ash Trees ahead on 16 minutes.  There should really have been one or two more goals during that period but as the half wore on, the match finally evened up to a degree, although Tyler Tobin’s goal was never seriously threatened.

The second half began as the first half had ended with the Villains on the attack and within four minutes of the re-start, they were level from the penalty spot.  It was impossible to see through a crowd of players what had happened but there were minimal protests as Adam Baigent struck his kick just beyond Tobin’s effort to keep it out.

The goal obviously gave the home side hope that they would be able to turn the tie around but Ashford did not allow that to happen, gradually re-asserting their authority, which was rewarded with a goal on 67 minutes from free-scoring full back Alex Fisher.  This time it was from a direct free kick which he curled expertly round the wall and beyond the despairing grasp of Tom Martin in the Villa goal.

Eight minutes later, Samad Kazi,  later named “Ashford Player of the Match” and playing at right back, capped a superb performance as he hammered home the third goal to ensure Ashford’s passage.

Villa were not quite finished and another soft foul three minutes into stoppage time saw them awarded a second penalty, again well finished by Argent.  The whistle went a few moments later though and that was that.

It is pleasing to report that there was only one caution in the match (for Villa) but that possibly owed something to referee Andrew’s apparent policy of “anything goes”, with maybe Villa a little more fortunate than Ashford to escape virtually unscathed.  That said, it was far from a dirty match and both sides provided  some good entertainment at times.

Ashford in this sort of mood are an exciting side to watch at the moment.  Kazi won the “Ashford Man of the Match” award whilst Bailey Mummery also took the writer’s eye with his non-stop running from start to finish.  Just about everyone though could walk off the field last night knowing they had played well.

There is good news on the player front as well.   Ashford have signed Will Boye, transferred from Colliers Wood United.  Will, of course, runs our Ladies’ side and we were hoping that he might have signed in pre-season but his decision to stay with Colliers was obviously respected.  When he announced recently though that he had decided to leave the Wood, we have managed to snap him up.  Will, who was the skipper of Colliers Wood, is a tall, tough but elegant defender and we thank Colliers for facilitating the transfer following our notice of approach.

Of our longer term injuries, both Mark Bitmead and Lewis Taylor remain under treatment but it was good to see Mark taking part in the warm-up last night and he will hopefully not be too far away from returning.

This evening (Wednesday), the Under-18’s are back in action at Short Lane when they will be entertaining Northwood in a Ryman Youth League encounter, kick-off 7.45 p.m.  The lads will be buzzing one would imagine, following last week’s win at Wealdstone and will certainly be after revenge following the defeat at Northwood in the FA Youth Cup a week or so back.

Another piece of news is that Knaphill defeated Camberley yesterday evening in the Surrey Senior Cup, which means, of course, that whoever comes out on top between ourselves and Beckenham Town next week, will be going to Knaphill in the next round.

The 1st Team will be at home on Saturday when high flying Epsom & Ewell are the visitors, although they had a setback last Saturday losing at home to Chertsey Town.  There will be more on that one though later in the week.