Ashford departed this season’s Middlesex Senior Cup competition on Tuesday evening, losing 2-3 to Hanworth Villa.

On an unexpectedly frosty surface, given that the thermometer was not due to hit zero until 4.00 in the morning, Ashford and Villa fought out what could reasonably be deemed an end to end contest, a penalty kick for Villa shortly after the resumption effectively clinching victory for the away side, who will now meet Hampton in the semi-final.

Max Webb and Tommy Brunton were given a rest, no doubt with Saturday’s big match at home to Royston in mind.  The early play was frantic and it was a surprise that nobody was able to break the deadlock until the 31st minute, when Villa’s Jesse Atiase took full advantage of a void at the back to put his side ahead.  Within minutes though, Kam English had equalised and well done to him for his persistence.  Put through by Dan Fleming, he went round the keeper but then stumbled over the ball and it looked as if the chance had gone but Kam recovered well, got back on his feet and slammed home.

Just two minutes later though Tom Neale put his side ahead for the second time but with barely time to breathe Ashford equalised again, a short corner kick leading to a cross to the far post, powerfully headed in by Scott Weight for his first goal of the season.

One hoped that Ashford might now go on to take the initiative, especially as some of their approach play was impressive but the Villains, who are a strong outfit this season, had other ideas and took the lead for the third time on 52 minutes, from the spot, scorer Jack Buckle.  It was impossible to see from the far end why the penalty was awarded but it was telling that there seemed to be very few arguments.

The remainder of the match saw Ashford frantically trying to notch a third equaliser which on the balance of possession they probably deserved, but chances that were flying in earlier in the season now seem to be flying just over or wide instead, or the opposition keeper makes a great save, or, as in this case, the referee points to the spot and then changes his mind and gives the foul outside the area which it probably was.

Let it also be stated that Villa, although under the cosh at times, still made chances of their own, one header in particular bringing a wonder save from Tyler Tobin in goal.  Indeed whether it was the need to push forward that caused it but there was a point where it seemed that whenever the visitors broke they were getting through the home defence with alarming ease at times.

It would be hard to criticise anyone for effort on a very cold evening but for the writer, the stand-out Ashford player was Bayley Mummery who showed both tenacity and no little skill throughout the match, whilst Kam English also produced some telling runs at times.

Ashford are something of an enigma at the moment, still producing some excellent football at times but without getting the results.  They certainly made enough chances last night, but are just not making them count at the moment.  Bad luck and some poor refereeing decisions have not always helped but the earlier part of this season amply demonstrated that Ashford can compete well at Step 4 and it is time to re-prove it with the opportunity to do so on Saturday when league leaders Royston Town come to Short Lane.  They enjoyed an emphatic win (5-0) over Farnborough yesterday evening and will be perhaps the toughest competitors that we will face over the remainder of this season.  It will obviously be a tall order against a powerful side at this level but It does not need saying that a win for the Tangerines would lift any despondency and without doubt, would be a springboard for the remainder of the season.

The Under-18’s are due to travel to meet Hendon U18 this evening (Wednesday) at Silver Jubilee Park in the Ryman Youth League unless the weather steps in.

Other news is that we now lose Alex Fisher for a while as he has to undergo an operation not connected with football and we wish him well and hope to see him back as soon as possible.  We also extend huge thanks to Ginge from the Juniors whose latest contribution has seen a third television put up in the bar.  His next self-stated task is to build a new trophy cabinet, just in case!