Ashford finally exited the Middlesex Senior Cup for another season on Tuesday evening, but only after a momentous battle against Ryman Premier side Enfield Town, eventually losing by six goals to four after extra time.

Although Ashford’s players all arrived on time, kick-off at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium was sadly delayed until 8.00 p.m. due to a fatal accident further along the A10 in which a motor cyclist lost his life.  The art-deco ground is possibly one of the most interesting in the country from an architectural point of view, resembling an old London Underground station from the outside and full of character.  The same cannot be said for the pitch, which was in fine condition for the time of year but surrounded by a wretched athletics track.

Playing opponents from higher levels rarely phases Ashford even though Ben Murray found himself with something of a depleted squad and the visitors started brightly enough.  It was evident though right from the start that Enfield possess that little extra quality that is not often seen in the CCL and they were quick to pick up on any defensive errors which is exactly what they did, with goals from Bobby Devyne and Vance Bola seemingly putting them on the road to a straightforward victory in the opening 18 minutes.

As always though the third goal in any match is often decisive and Ashford were rewarded for their perseverance when the excellent Bailey Mummery got on the end of a low cross and took the opportunity to equalise just before the half-hour mark.  Sadly for the Tangerines, poor defending let them down again just four minutes later and Micky Parcell restored Enfield’s two goal lead.

So it remained at half-time although an immaculate piece of control on the stroke of the whistle from Dan Fleming had seen him control the ball and attempt a deft lob over the home keeper which just cleared the bar.  It would otherwise have been the goal of the night.

As the temperature dropped Ashford made an explosive start to the second half.  Within seconds Mark Bitmead was fouled in the area and made no mistake from the spot, and then, just five minutes later, another excellent move saw Scott Weight send in a low cross for Fleming to equalise at three apiece.

The match ebbed and flowed but once again it was Enfield who went ahead, this time through Devyne on 70 minutes and one wondered if that signalled the end for the visitors.  The answer was no, when they equalised with five minutes on the clock.  Bitmead was impeded as he tried to get on the end of a through ball and the Enfield defender was sent off for denying a goal scoring opportunity.  It had looked that the ball would have run through to the keeper and it was an extremely harsh decision.  Bitmead who had come to life in the second half hit the back of the net from the resulting free kick.  Just before the end he almost won it for Ashford with another effort that went narrowly wide.

At four apiece though and the home side down to ten men, the advantage was with Ashford in extra time and again they almost made it pay at the start but an obvious tiredness, hardly surprising after facing such a talented opposition, was manifesting itself and, despite being a man down, it was the home side who were now looking distinctly more menacing.  So it proved with Enfield scoring their fifth goal in the first period through Corey Whiteley and the writing was finally on the wall.  A sixth and final goal at the death, again from Whiteley ensured that it would be Enfield who would go through to meet Northwood in the Final, following their win by two goals to nil against Staines.

Enfield Town still have to visit Short Lane in the quarter final of the Middlesex Charity Cup and we shall look forward to entertaining them after their excellent and friendly hospitality on Tuesday evening.