In what was probably a highly entertaining match for any neutral on Saturday, Ashford conspired to throw away the chance of at least a point in a 3-5 defeat at second place Royston Town.

It could be argued that, on the second half display alone, when Ashford fought back from 1-3 down to equalise and then have two more efforts kicked off the line, not to mention missing a penalty kick, the Tangerines deserved, at the very least a draw but the sobering thought is that if you concede five goals you cannot realistically expect anything other than defeat.

It was a funny old match from the beginning.  The home side started like a train forcing several corners in the opening few minutes, all well taken, and forcing the visitors on to the back foot.  After a number of prolonged attacks, Ashford finally broke clear for the first time and the ball found itself at the feet of leading scorer Mark Bitmead, who had been experiencing a lean run, but the experienced striker never hesitates to shoot and he duly found the corner of the net with a low effort from which Royston keeper Dodge should probably have done better.  He didn’t though and the visitors went ahead.

Royston were affronted and frankly took charge of the remainder of the half, with goals from Bridges and two from Frendo.  On the balance of play the scoreline was probably right although Ashford had always looked dangerous on the occasional breakaway.

At the half-time whistle, few would have expected any other result than a solid victory for the home side but it didn’t quite work out like that as, whatever Ben Murray said to his troops, it was a revitalised Ashford side that set out to recover what seemed a lost cause.  It didn’t go well at first when Bitmead missed a penalty kick after a wallop administered to Dan Fleming which might have brought greater punishment on another day than the sole yellow card of the game issued by referee Nigel Smith.

The thinking immediately after the miss was that any chance we might have had, had disappeared but suddenly it was Ashford controlling the match and on the hour mark, full back Joe Green popped up to reduce the arrears after a goalmouth scramble.  Ashford continued to push and even the most hard bitten of Royston supporters would have found it hard to deny that the Tangerines deserved an equaliser, which duly arrived on 81 minutes, once again courtesy of the free scoring (in this match at least) Green.

Within minutes two more goal line clearances prevented Ashford from taking the lead and it seemed that only one side could win the match.  That is always true of course, but sSadly for Ashford, it was not them but Royston who scored what turned out to be the killer blow with six minutes left on the clock.  Maybe Ashford should have tried to shut up shop after equalising but that is never the Ashford way and at least the effort from Royston’s Orlando-Young deserved to win any game, a fierce swerving effort from distance giving Kav Keadall no chance as it flew into the top corner of the net.  Why the striker wasn’t shut down though is another question.  A cruel fifth goal for Royston in stoppage time, with almost the whole of the Ashford side caught upfield as they made belated efforts to equalise again, resulted in a scoreline that was quite hard to take after the second half efforts but well done to Royston, who will certainly take some shifting from the promotion positions.

On we go though with the next competitive match at home to Egham Town on Boxing Day, which kicks off at 1.00 p.m.  It goes without saying that it will be another tough old match as we know the Sarnies have plenty of talented players but if Ashford can match their second half display on Saturday, who knows.

Before that, Ben Murray has organised a friendly for this Wednesday evening at home to CCL club Guildford City, kick-off 7.45, which will be an opportunity to experiment a little, although it will still be largely a 1st Team side.  Entry is reduced to just £3 (£2 OAP’s, free for children Under-16).

There is also an Under18 match this evening (Monday 19th) with the side taking on Staines Town U18 at Wheatsheaf Lane.

Finally it can be confirmed that Jack Beadle has left and has moved to Egham Town.  Jack played in 153 competitive matches for the club, scoring 44 goals, including 4 this season and we thank him for all his efforts on behalf of Ashford in recent seasons.