Ashford 18s fell at the quarter final stage of the Ryman Youth League Lucas Fettes cup going out on penalties in what was a very exciting match between two very good counter attacking teams.

Big thanks to Dave Baker for volunteering to drive the minibus to the ground, the traffic was dreadful and the journey took just over two hours to get to our destination.

Hendon sitting top of the league and full of confidence were playing at home on their usual 3G pitch started the match very strong, dragging our midfield all over the park, they opened the score sheet shortly after with a long ball in the box that took a nasty deflection which found their inform front man who calmly slotted past Ashford’s keeper to make it 1-0.  Hendon were truly in the driving seat and shortly after extended their lead to make the first half finish 2-0 to the home side.

Our lads knew that they were 45 minutes from being knocked out of the competition which has seen us beat Bedfont & Carshalton to reach this stage, with a slight tweak to the midfield positioning we came out with all guns blazing.

Mason sat in the holding position which allowed Charlie and Ilia to push forward and link up play with the front three of Keegan, Isaac and Harry.

Within minutes of the change Ilia and Charlie done a neat one two cutting Hendon’s midfield in half, Charlie who looked like shooting but instead slid in a wonderful ball to our prolific striker Isaac who made no mistake and buried it in the back of the net, 2-1 game on !!

Ashford were well and truly back in the tie and kept pressing and creating chances, our second goal shortly followed when Harry won a 50/50 header and fed Isaac who dragged the ball out wide and delivered a wonderful cross which was met by the head of substitute Jacob Bennett.

2-2 and everyone including the Hendon players and management could see that the balance had swung Ashford’s way, we created a couple more chances but the tie eventually finished and the game went straight to penalties.

My message was clear to the lads, I couldn’t be more proud of the team, coming from 2 down against a very strong well organised side, we were possibly unlucky not to win the game in normal time but Hendon may feel the same.

Penalties is a lottery and all I ask is we make their keeper work by hitting the target which we did on our first two strikes, Harry stepped up and the keeper made a fantastic save, he repeated his form by saving Roses penalty. Our fate was sealed when Aaron missed the target and Hendon finally won which takes them into the semi-finals.

Ashford MOTM goes to Mason for controlling the midfield in the second half.   The Hendon keeper though was fantastic and made some outstanding saves on the night.

We come away with our heads held high and despite a feeling of bitter disappointment, these lads are improving week by week which is all I can ask from them, well done to them and to Hendon, a cracking game and perfect advertisement for youth football.