Middlesex FATwo hours of football failed to separate Ashford and Wealdstone in last night’s Middlesex Senior Cup tie.  A youthful but strong Wealdstone side passed the ball around in a manner that was a pleasure to watch on occasions but a determined Ashford squad, with one or two regulars missing, no doubt with tonight’s tie in the Aldershot Cup in mind, matched them throughout.  Indeed, Ashford’s determined defending last night made the recent leaky perfomances against Slough and Godalming all the more mystifying.

Three times the ball had to be cleared from the line but that is not to suggest that Ashford spent the whole evening defending.  Once again, the strong running of Kofi, Pietro and indeed Joe Bennett and Mark Bitmead on the flanks caused a few problems at times for the undoubtedly strong home defence.

The conditions became ever frostier from half-time on, with the pitch turning quickly from green to white but it played well.  A collective groan greeted the inevitability of extra time but with players on both sides tiring, the further 30 minutes made no difference and the dreaded penalty shoot out soon became a reality.

Ashford took the first one and a pile driver from Mark Bitmead gave the visitors a good start.  Wealdstone then scored but Kofi Lockhart-Adams made it 2-1.  Wealdstone equalised again.  Up stepped Ed Thomas who hit his shot with great power but it crashed against the bar and came out.  Advantage Wealdstone, whose next penalty also hit the woodwork but this time rebounded into the net to give the home side a 3-2 lead.

A sublime penalty from Joe Bennett made it three apiece and Wealdstone then missed their next one – parity restored at three apiece.  Up stepped the hard working Jack Mullan whose effort was true to put Ashford 4-3 ahead.  Wealdstone levelled things up at four all.

It was the turn of Perry Luckins next and he gave the keeper no chance – 5-4 Ashford.  There was tension in the air and it was too much for the next taker whose tame effort was saved and Ashford were through to the quarter finals of the competition, in which they will be at home to North Greenford United, who put out Hendon last night by three goals to two.

As mentioned, Ashford held a few players back in readiness for this evening’s match at home to Cove in the Aldershot Senior Cup which is on tonight (Wednesday) at Short Lane, kick-off 7.45 p.m.