Ashford had to come from behind twice in this match but given that they conceded twelve goals in their previous two visits to the ground, eight against Dunstable Town and four against AFC, this was a result that the Tangerines would have been tempted to settle for beforehand, had the choice been there.

AFC Dunstable had been knocked out of the FA Cup the previous Saturday by Step 6 Potton United and were clearly determined to put the matter right and after some early even exchanges, they duly went ahead on 23 minutes.  It was a poor goal to concede from Ashford’s point of view as Romario Jonas seemed to misjudge the flight of the long ball out of defence, leaving AFC’s Louis Bircham with the opportunity to plant the ball past Tyler Tobin.

It was galling for Ashford as they had previously spurned two golden chances, both falling to Mark Bitmead who twice found himself denied by the home keeper, who was on top of his form.  Bitmead though never lets missed chances worry him and he scored a classic equaliser on 41 minutes, lobbing the ball over the keeper from distance.

It was all square at the break and that was about right, with the home side having enjoyed more possession but the visitors had arguably created the better chances.

The second half got underway and referee Gelov was to play a major part.  One or two of his first half decisions had seemed to lack a little consistency but Ashford followers were incensed when Bitmead clearly received a push inside the penalty area.  It wasn’t a hard push but Mr. Gelov decided that the Ashford player had indulged in simulation as he fell over and issued a caution.  Having already denied the visitors a penalty when Jack Beadle appeared to be knocked over, he then upset the home supporters by deciding that AFC’s Christian Tavernier was also guilty of simulation, and as the player had been cautioned in the first half, he was sent off.  From the other end of the field, it seemed harsh and it was perhaps telling that Ashford manager Ben Murray, was seen to be commiserating with Tavernier as he left the field.

Ashford sensed victory but the home side saw it differently and if anything, put more pressure on the Ashford goal which culminated when Max Webb was adjudged to have fouled his opponent in the penalty area in the 76th minute and AFC’s scored from the spot to go ahead again.

There was inevitably a considerable amount of time wasting as Dunstable looked to protect all three points and they seemed to have it in the bag as Ashford, although full of effort were not really showing the passing game that has marked their progress thus far this new season.  With three proven strikers, James Cottee, Dan Fleming and Bitmead all capable of finishing, and all on the field, there was always a chance though and sure enough just as the 90 minutes were up, Bitmead found himself through on goal and he did what he does best, holding off a challenge before expertly slotting the ball past the keeper, to give Ashford a share of the points, which overall was probably the fairest outcome in what had been a decent match overall.

Mark Bitmead was named the "Hitchcock & King Ashford Player of the Match" by the sizeable contingent of Ashford supporters and he now needs just a solitary goal to register his 250th for the club which will be a magnificent achievement.  Whilts looking at stats, belated congratulations go to Scott Weight who is now over his 200th appearance for the club whilst Tommy Brunton needs just three more to register his 200th.

The point enabled Ashford to rise to 4th place in the fledgling league table but the next challenge arrives very quickly on Bank Holiday Monday afternoon, when Egham come a-calling, with kick-off set for 3.00 p.m.  Egham are under new management from last season and will be another tough challenge for the Tangerines as they seek to maintain their unbeaten start to the season.

Forthcoming Events

28 Apr 2018
03:00PM -
Evo-Stik League South v AFC Rushden & Diamonds (a)
10 May 2018
07:30PM -
Annual General Meeting
02 Jun 2018
11:00AM -
Junior Presentation Day and Evening
09 Jun 2018
09:00AM - 09:00PM
Junior Tournament