Ashford’s run in the Emirates FA Cup came to an end on Saturday, as visitors Leatherhead won a close 3rd Qualifying Round match by two goals to one, despite conceding an early penalty when Max Webb was bundled off the ball by Lee Minshull.  It is a fair bet that not every referee would have given it but a more convincing appeal just a minute earlier had been turned down so that may have been in the referee’s mind.

Alex Fisher stepped up and placed his shot in the corner, sending the keeper the wrong way.

Leatherhead quickly showed though that they were of a quality not previously faced by the Tangerines and it did not take long for them to equalise.  The goal itself was controversial as Minshull seemed to knock Ashford keeper Tyler Tobin off the ball, which takes some doing, as he headed firmly home from a corner kick.  If Ashford were a tad fortunate with the penalty award, they were distinctly unfortunate that the goal counted as most referees tend to react to any challenge on the keeper.

For the remainder of the half, it would be fair to say that the visitors enjoyed the greater possession but Ashford were never out of it, especially when they broke fast as they so often do, and both Mark Bitmead and Dan Fleming went close.  Tobin was on top form at the other end as the visitors also looked dangerous and a stalemate ensued.

There was no further scoring in the first half but Ashford suffered a blow when Bitmead was unable to come out for the second half after getting a knock.  On came Jabir Laraba who is always energetic but it was the visitors who turned the game round on 54 minutes when Jack Midson just about got the ball over the line following a rebound.

After that Leatherhead seemed content to soak up anything Ashford could throw at them which they did fairly comfortably and most were of the opinion that they had done enough to deserve to win.  As the match reached its climax, Ashford threw caution to the wind and Fleming almost equalised but it was not to be.

Overall, Ashford were unable to retain the ball quite as much as they have in recent matches no doubt because of the quality of the opposition but the Tangerines generally defended well with Max Webb being named “Ashford man of the match”.  We wish Leatherhead all the best in the next round.

Ashford now have two further cup matches before getting back to league fare.  On Tuesday we visit the Skyex Community Stadium to play against Hayes & Yeading in the 1st Round of the Big Cup (League Cup).  The full address is Beaconsfield Road, Hayes, Middlesex, UB4 0SL and kick-off is 7.45 p.m.  They too departed the FA Cup on Saturday losing 0-4 at home to Havant & Waterlooville.  H & Y are playing at our level for the first time and did not make the best of starts but have been doing much better in the League in recent weeks.  Ashford seem likely to give starts to some of the players who have not had so much game time recently.  It was good to see both Joe Green and James Cottee at the ground on Saturday.  Joe confirmed he is probably out for the rest of the season after his injury at Marlow whilst James, who has had a minor op, hopes to be back very soon, possibly as early as next Saturday, when we entertain Uxbridge in the 1st Qualifying Round of the FA Trophy.

Well done to the ladies who travelled to meet Bromley Ladies in their second league match in Division One of the Greater London Women’s League on Sunday and duly returned home with the points, winning by three goals to nil, scorers being Vicky James, Holly Berry and Lavana Neufville