Although a small amount of the gloss was taken off by two very late Arlesey goals, Ashford made it two wins from two this season as they defeated their Bedfordshire opponents by 3 goals to 2 on Tuesday evening, to make themselves one of five clubs to have won both their opening matches.

As anticipated and certainly hoped for, Ashford were fast out of the blocks after their win at Cambridge on Saturday (they won last night by the way) and it took just two minutes for the Tangerines to take the lead.   It was a simple but impressive goal as Jack Beadle lofted a long ball to Mark Bitmead cutting in from the right.  He advanced at pace and made light of putting the ball past the keeper, who didn’t seem to quite get his angles correct.

To be fair to the visitors, there was no panic as they continued to play but they rarely looked as if they would puncture Ashford’s rearguard at this point and Bitmead almost had a second but a fine save thwarted him.  Ashford kept pressing though and on 31 minutes doubled the lead.  This time it came from a free kick curled in by Alex Fisher.  The keeper could only punch the ball high in the air under pressure and it was James Cottee, rapidly becoming an Ashford favourite, up first to head into the roof of the net.

Just before half-time, Ashford more or less wrapped the game up with their third and possibly the most impressive goal.  A crisp left flank movement saw Bitmead send over a cross for Dan Fleming to meet on the half volley and smash it into the back of the net to give the keeper no chance.

Supporters settled back for the second half anticipating further goals but all credit to the visitors who put a fairly poor first half behind them as they dragged themselves back into the match.  Ashford still looked dangerous on the break as Bitmead showed when he was again thwarted by the visiting keeper.  Manager Ben Murray was reasonably happy with his defence as they coped fairly well as Arlesey had more and more of the ball and as the match entered its final moments, everyone seemed to have settled for a 3-0 victory.

In the 90th minute though, the visitors snatched what could surely only be a consolation, through Taylor Rhiney but when they scored again, this time a thunderbolt from Cade Stephens-Abbey, in the 3rd minute of stoppage time, alarm bells were suddenly ringing as the visitors could sniff a point or even better.

Fortunately for the Tangerines, referee Scott, remembered for his sending off of Mitchal Gough at Cove three years ago for an offence that nobody else had seen,not that we bear a grudge, had signalled just three minutes of stoppage time and blew his whistle bang on time to the relief of Ashford and the chagrin of the Arlesey supporters who thought there should have been more and they were probably right.  The referee’s word is final though and, on this occasion at least, we were happy to accept it.

That said, over the 90 minutes Ashford certainly deserved to win, playing some fluid football at times, and will be in good heart for their match at home to Wembley on Saturday in the FA Cup.  In between time we shall be fielding a side against a visiting Chinese side from Tianjin City in mainland China, kick-off 7.45 p.m. on Thursday. Entry is entirely free for everyone and with bar supremo Kate having been practicing her Chinese it will be worth that by itself to come along.  The Chinese party will also be at the ground this evening (Wednesday) as they have asked to watch one of the junior training sessions in their endeavour to see how clubs at our level organise such things.  Chinese speakers very welcome!