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Ashford faced the prospect of what seemed a very tough match yesterday at AFC Hayes, where the home side had shown greatly improved form and against whom Ashford had already completed two very close games, one cup, one league, at Short Lane.

The pitch was very soft and heavy and at one point the referee apparently had some misgivings as to whether to go ahead or not but he did and Ashford were grateful as their performance turned into one of the most complete of the season, more or less dominating the proceedings from start to finish.

With neither regular central defenders Will Boye or Russell Canderton available, it was a master stroke to pair up Samad Kazi and Josh Andrew together in the central defensive positions as they both made up for any perceived lack of height with incredible pace, and were generally successful in nullifying the threat of the dangerous Sam Saydee up front for AFC.

Making light of the conditions, Ashford attacked from the off and were rewarded on 14 minutes when Mark Bitmead was brought down in the area and he converted the penalty with ease. 

For a period the home side fought back and certainly had one or two chances to equalise but Ashford were looking good on the day and on the half hour mark it was Bailey Mummery who struck with aplomb to double the lead.  After that, the only thing between the Tangerines and their opponents was AFC Hayes keeper Bobby Khairia who single handedly at times it seemed, kept Ashford out.

Mark Bitmead hit the post with one effort before Jack Beadle cut in from the left and rifled home the third goal, followed two minutes later on the stroke of half-time with another penalty, this time for an inexplicable hand ball offence.  Bitmead duly made it four before the whistle.

The paper on the home dressing wall must have close to peeling at half-time but try as they might AFC could get nothing right on the day and the fifth goal for Ashford on 57 minutes was arguably the best of the bunch as Beadle, unchallenged, advanced and hit another unstoppable effort past  to make it five.  Another one was disallowed for offside which must have been mighty close and Bitmead hit the woodwork for the second time.

In the meantime, the home side went down to ten men, when the offender might actually have gone earlier but it made little difference.  With a little more determination, Ashford might have scored more but if there was a criticism yesterday, it was that the later attempts were not quite as clinical as they had been earlier.  Manager Ben Murray found himself able to give game time to three of the Under-18’s, Ilia Perovic, Charlie Rose and Gene Vincent lookalike, Harry Herdman and all looked more than confident.  All round it was an excellent day for the Club as they try to keep the pressure on league leaders Hartley Wintney.  Ashford "Man of the Match" award, voted by supporters, went jointly to Tommy Brunton and Jack Beadle.  Both were superb but there were plenty of candidates yesterday.

A word also for referee Andy Connor who, whilst not pleasing Ashford with his early booking for Kazi, had an excellent match which was echoed by both clubs’ officials, using all the maturity not always seen in the younger officials, to keep everyone in line.

The next match is back at Short Lane, where the pitch for yesterday’s BA match was immaculate, we understand, when Windsor FC will be the visitors on Monday 28 December, kick-off 1.00 p.m..  Windsor play good football and it has the makings of an excellent match.  Indeed with Camberley playing at home to Hartley Wintney and Horley entertaining Epsom & Ewell, it will be an interesting day all round.

Finally, we have the Christmas Draw this very afternoon (Sunday), which will get under way around 3.00 p.m. rather than 2.00 as previously assumed, everyone welcome.  Ashford is also distributing bottles of wine etc. to all the residents in Short Lane today as a little gesture of neighbourliness.