Before commenting upon yesterday’s match at Short Lane, may we send our best wishes to anyone injured in the car crash which happened right outside the ground about 20 minutes before kick-off.  Our belated understanding is that a car was waiting to turn right into the stadium but that a collision ensued as another car came in the opposite direction.  We would like to hear from any  Ashford supporters who were involved just to let us know that you are OK.

The match itself kicked off six minutes late and it was the visitors who made the first impression, especially an early through ball which should have seen them take the lead but the striker failed to shoot and was crowded out.

Just eight minutes in though Ashford went ahead with a goal of stunning simplicity.  Mark Bitmead got free on the right and squared it for Dan Fleming to tap home.

That goal threatened to open the floodgates as Ashford started to look as if they might score every time they attacked.  Fleming made it two on 18 minutes and Bitmead got his first on 21, both quality goals.

The visitors were arguing amongst themselves and looked in disarray for a while.  Then Ashford decided to give them a lifeline back into the match!  Alex Fisher who has been the epitome of reliability all season, not yet missing a single match, suddenly had a most unusual rush of blood to the head and made contact with an opponent with his foot in the penalty area whilst the ball was about to be cleared by Tyler Tobin in the Ashford goal who had it in his hands.

It could easily have been a red card.  Fortunately for Alex and Ashford, the referee only showed yellow but awarded the penalty quite correctly as the ball was still in play (he had not whistled when the contact was made) and Chessington duly took the opportunity to reduce the arrears.  That gave them some heart and they nearly pulled another one back soon afterwards with the incident having seemingly rattled the Tangerines.

There was no denying Ashford’s attacking threat though and as heads cleared it was Bitmead again who restored the three goal margin, to make it 4-1, on the stroke of half-time.

Chessington held out for a further 15 minutes at the beginning of the second period but then, three goals in six minutes just after the hour mark enabled Ashford supporters to relax for the last half an hour.  Needless to say, both Bitmead and Fleming completed their hatricks, in Fleming’s case for the second time in consecutive matches, the other coming from the returning Perry Luckins, within two minutes of coming off the bench.

With well over 20 minutes left, one wondered if Ashford might actually hit double figures but, doubtless with Tuesday’s Middlesex Senior Cup match in mind, manager Ben Murray withdrew both Fleming and Bitmead in favour of Bradley Wainwright and Joe Green.  Wainwright was his customary energetic self and had one great opportunity to score but his fierce effort was well saved and, to be fair to the visitors, they battled to the end, leaving 7-1 as the final score.

In the poll amongst supporters, the vote for “Ashford man of the match” went narrowly to Tommy Brunton, supreme in midfield yet again, but the award could have been shared amongst just about everyone, especially Dan Fleming, who may well be the first ever Ashford player to score hatricks in successive matches, (to be checked) and Mark Bitmead who actually had a hand in six of the seven goals.  At the back, Will Boye returned with a dominant performance and one could go on to mention just about everyone.

Our main rivals are showing similar consistency at the moment, with Hartley Wintney recording a 3-0 home win over AFC Hayes and Camberley enjoying  4-1 victory at Colliers Wood.  Epsom & Ewell though lost to a late goal at Windsor.

We now entertain Harrow Borough on Tuesday evening in the Quarter Final of the Middlesex Senior Cup, kick-off 7.45 p.m. and whilst it is fair to say that we have proved ourselves to be a useful outfit at Step 5, it will be interesting to see how we stack up against a mid-table Step 3 side who enjoyed a good win on Saturday against promotion chasing Billericay Town.