On a superbly prepared surface at Short Lane, and looking at the match over the full 90 minutes, there was little doubt that Ashford deserved to take all three points, despite the apparent closeness of the 2-1 scoreline.  In fact, the match was hugely one-sided in terms of possession until the last 15 minutes when Windsor suddenly came alive and almost punished Ashford for their failure to finish the match off earlier.

An unchanged Ashford looked well up for the game right from the start and it took just four minutes for them to go in front.  Excellent work from Alex Fisher enabled the rejuvenated Dan Fleming to send in a powerful effort but Windsor skipper and keeper Carl Dennison was in magnificent form and managed to keep it out.  Unfortunately for him, the ball rolled into the path of predator in chief  Mark Bitmead who was left with a tap in.

At this early stage both sides were looking to play good football, with Ashford mainly dominant, but the next incident of note some ten minutes before half-time didn’t really help the flow of the match.  It was a sending off for Windsor’s main striker George Dunbar, who having received an early caution for dissent, found himself the recipient of a second yellow card for something of a lunge on Max Webb.  Although it is probably difficult to criticise the referee, it somehow seemed harsh in the overall context of the match.  Windsor were further annoyed when a late tackle from Ashford’s flying centre-back Josh Andrew was not punished by a yellow card.

The reaction of Ashford’s opponents for a long period thereafter though seemed surprising, given that they were already a goal down.  For a long, long time it almost seemed as if they were content to defend deep and try to keep the score down, hoping maybe to get one on the break.  As a result, Ashford found themselves with the ball almost all the time and Tommy Brunton, immaculate in midfield yet again, seemed to have the freedom of the park to spread it around.  It should have led to more goals but some fairly indifferent finishing, allied with the almost unbeatable Dennison, ensured that it wasn’t until the 65th minute that the lead was doubled.  Another shot was saved but this time Fleming was not to be denied and he notched the goal his all round game deserved.

That should, of course, have been the cue for Windsor to lay down and accept their fate but despite their overall lack of possession, they possess players of some class and as Ashford seemed to ease off, they pulled one back in the 77th minute through Charlie Samuel.  It came from a cross lofted high into the danger area and Ashford found themselves unable to defend it properly, with the aforementioned result.

Inevitably, the goal changed things, with the visitors suddenly sensing that, despite everything that had gone before, they could get something from the match.  In the end they didn’t but there were a few sticky moments before Ashford could finally claim the three points.

Afterwards,, manager Ben Murray was pleased enough with his side’s efforts, with the team now having won six out of their last seven league matches, plus a draw and certainly much of the football was a joy to watch at times.  The vote for the “Ashford Supporters’ Man of the Match” went to Samad Kazi, currently our other flying central defender, although Tommy Brunton ran him mighty close, plus any number of other contenders.  It was also the first time for a while that no yellow/red cards were incurred, although that possibly owed a little to good fortune, as mentioned above.

We now look forward to the home match against Knaphill on Saturday, kick-off 3.00 p.m.  They surprised us at their own ground in the Surrey Senior Cup a few weeks ago, when they generally played football that belied their mid table status, but Ashford will be well prepared on this occasion and doubtless fielding their strongest available squad.

Finally, the whole club will wish to send it’s love and best wishes to our General Secretary Keith Balmer, who sadly has been in hospital throughout the Christmas period.  Keith, get well mate and we hope to see you soon.