Cambridge City were unlucky to have been relegated from the Premier Division of the Southern League at the end of last season on goal difference and after winning five of their last six matches.  No doubt for that reason, they have been established as one of the likely front runners as they started life at Step 4 for the first time.  Nevertheless and  despite conceding a very early goal through a total mix-up at the back, Ashford, who have retained almost all of last season’s promising squad, fought back so well that in the end they took all three points.

Just one new player started for Ashford and that was James Cottee, signed from CCL runners-up Westfield FC last season and he was to have a significant effect upon the match.  Immediately following their goal though, the home side had their tails up and for a while it was a question of battoning down the hatches for the Tangerines as they found themselves attacked down both flanks, facing two tricky and pacey players.

Gradually though, the game evened out and Ashford started to create chances of their own.  Both Mark Bitmead and Dan Fleming, in particular, went close.  Cambridge still looked dangerous but fortunately Tyler Tobin was in great form in goal.  There were no further goals at the break.

The second half was different as Ashford levelled the scores within four minutes as Cottee latched on to the loose ball and sent his shot unerringly into goal despite bodies on the line.  This was Ashford’s purple period and it was not really a surprise when they took the lead 15 minutes later.  If the first goal was pleasing, the second was pure class.  Cambridge will doubtless feel that they should have defended better as they allowed Fleming to get on the ball but they didn’t and he was given time to flick a deft ball to Tommy Brunton.  If there is one person who can pick a pass better than anyone else in the Tangerine ranks, it is Tommy and his delightful ball through to Jack Beadle  was a defence splitter.  Jack carefully took his time before sliding it past the home keeper for what would eventually turn out to be the winner.

As the match wore on though, the home side re-doubled their efforts and once again Ashford had Tobin to thank as he pulled off save after save.  Ashford defended as if their lives were on the line and Max Webb, on from the bench, just in front of the other defenders soon made his presence felt.  The pressure intensified when Romario Jonas had to leave the field having sustained a slight pull.  Scott Weight though dropped into defence and the side held out, riding their luck as Cambridge’s final effort was a full powered header that rebounded back from the bar.

Referee Wilson did not endear himself to the visitors when he decreed seven minutes of stoppage time and then played nine.  Like all winning sides there was some time wasting on Ashford’s side but hardly that much!  He also cautioned Samad Kazi (rightly) for a heavy tackle but then failed to dish out the same punishment to a home defender when Webb broke with one of his powerful runs only to be quite deliberately tripped.  Overall though he controlled the game well.

It was inconsequential though as both sides provided an entertaining match.  Cambridge will doubtless be disappointed that they let the momentum slip when they had it and time will tell just how valuable these three points will be.  The writer’s guess is that Cambridge are in for a good season once everything settles down but it is difficult to make judgements after only one match.  For Ashford, getting the first points on the board is pressure relieved, as we now go on to a home match against Arlesey Town on Tuesday evening, kick-off 7.45 p.m.  More on that one tomorrow.

 

Forthcoming Events

25 Nov 2017
03:00PM -
Evo-Stik League South v AFC Rushden & Diamonds (H)
28 Nov 2017
07:45PM -
Evo-Stik League South v Hartley Wintney (a)