AFC HayesAshford were well beaten at AFC Hayes this afternoon, suffering a 3-1 defeat at Farm Park and have now gone five matches without a victory.  However, it could have been so different if the Ash Trees had capitalised on their dominance in the opening quarter of the game.

With Russell Canderton and Perry Luckins both ruled out with injury, Jack Mullan and Joe Bennett were included in the starting line-up and excellent work from Bennett in the opening minute created a superb opening for Mark Bitmead, whose shot flew over the bar.  Bitmead had a further two chances in the first quarter of an hour as the Tangerines completely dominated the opening part of the game.

However, as is so often the case, Ashford were punished for their failure to turn possession into goals.  A deep corner was crossed back towards goal by Lawrie Shennan and Tony Mendy's acrobatic header gave Paul McCarthy no chance.

The home side settled and were the better team after the goal, and Mitchell Gough might have doubled their lead, but shot straight at McCarthy.  Mark Bitmead might have levelled for the visitors, but he saw a fierce and potentially goalbound shot deflected wide.

Chris Robinson came on at half-time, replacing the injured Bairoh Conteh and Ashford started the second period well without testing the home goalkeeper.  However, the second goal owed as much to an error from the Tangerines as the quality of their opponents.  A short corner was played to Alex Duffy, who was muscled off the ball and the hosts swept forward on the counter-attack, Mendy eventually firing past McCarthy in emphatic style.

Ashford continued to try to play positively, but the tension was palpable and passes that would have connected effortlessly a couple of weeks ago were now going astray, meaning the hosts retained control of the match.   Ed Thomas did have a shot that went over the crossbar at the end of one good team move and substitute Hanif Boyle - on loan from Staines Town - looked lively, but the next goal was decisive and went to the hosts.  Midfielder Aban Majeed shot across goal from distance, his low strike eluding McCarthy and creeping inside the far post.

Ashford never gave up and Scott Weight hit a shot over the crossbar before Town scored a consolation goal in the 88th minute.  A rapid move down the right flank saw the ball crossed towards substitute Samad Kazi, whose emphatic finish provided some small reward for his team's efforts.