Rugby TownAshford endured a tortuous 100 mile midweek trip to Rugby Town on Tuesday evening.  The match took place amidst driving rain and a squally wind but great credit goes to Rugby for the state of their pitch, which was superb for this time of the year.

Ashford looked lively at the start but went behind early on to something of a freak goal.  Baroh Conteh lost it initially  but in trying to retrieve the situation caused the attacker’s shot to take a deflection that looked for all the world as if was going to sail over the bar.  Sadly for the visitors, it seemed to take an unusual trajectory and dropped over Paul McCarthy’s head into the net.

Play remained relatively even but when Rugby drew the next blow on 37 minutes, the initiative was very much with the league leaders.

Ashford came out with renewed vigour at the start of the second period but lacked any penetration unlike the home side who peppered McCarthy at times but, celebrating his return to the team, he was magnificent, making saves on a regular basis with just about every part of his body. 

A goal for Ashford who never stopped plugging away may have changed the situation as goals always do but then came an incident that effectively ensured Rugby would win the match.  Jim Mann put in a tough tackle, his opponent re-acted with fury and then, in what really was an isolated incident, a goodly number of players from both sides enjoyed a full bloodied melee.  Order was restored and the three officials took an age to decide upon appropriate action.  That suggested they didn’t know quite who to pick out but in the end it was Ashford’s Chris Robinson, who having been cautioned in the first half, found himself dismissed.

It may well be that Chris deserved a second caution but he was far from being the worst offender as there were others on both sides who could easily have walked.  It seemed an incredible decision but it meant that Ashford had to throw caution to the wind, which they did for a while in a flurry of attacking football.  Despite plenty of possession, they never really looked like penetrating the efficient Rugby defence and as holes appeared, Rugby took full advantage with two late goals, and it could have been more but for McCarthy’s heroics.

This was the first league match of the season in which Ashford have failed to score but after a long unbeaten run until last night they will hopefully look to bounce back at Biggleswade on Saturday, although that is bound to be another very tough match with the hosts being another team in excellent form.

The Suburban team entertain Southall tonight (Wednesday) in the Quarter-Final of the Middlesex Premier Cup and the match is ON.  The pitch is sticky and not at its best but there is no surface water and we need to get the match played, this being the third attempt.  Kick-off is 7.45 p.m. and the County President Jim Taylor will be in attendance.