Middlesex FAAshford made a little bit of history on Tuesday evening, with the narrowest of wins against Northwood, as a result of which they will be competing in their first ever Middlesex Senior Cup Final, which will take place on Easter Monday (in the evening) at Uxbridge FC and will be against friends and neighbours Staines Town, who themselves narrowly beat Hayes & Yeading, to ensure a first ever all Spelthorne Final.

On another very cold evening both Ashford and Northwood tolled hard throughout but despite extra time, neither team was able to break the deadlock and penalties looked odds on sometime before they became a reality.  Ashford had the better of it in the first half of the match and should have been leading at half time.  Paul Burgess had sprung something of a surprise by including Bairoh Conteh, in an unaccustomed right back spot and also included Perry Luckins and Mark Bitmead, both of whom had returned from injury in the reserve match the previous evening against Horsham YMCA.  Bitmead in particular was lively.

No-one managed to score though and after the break it was Northwood’s turn to do most of the attacking.  Paul McCarthy was at his best on occasions, saving one or two point blank efforts but just as Ashford had failed in the first half to score, so did Northwood in the second.

On to extra time then and still no-one could break the deadlock although possibly Ashford had a little more possession than their opponents during this period.  Third choice referee Jason Richardson handled the match well, never once having to reach for his cards and so, after a short break, it was on to penalties, not an unfamiliar situation for either club as that method had decided last season’s Middlesex Charity Cup Final between the two teams.

Ashford went first and Kofi Lockhart-Adams made no mistake with a silky effort.  Northwood made it one apiece, and Mario Quiassaca also made no mistake.  Northwood made it two each.  Alex Duffy was next for Ashford and he had been possibly Ashford’s most creative player on the night. Sadly that counted for nothing as he blazed his effort over the bar.  Northwood took advantage to go 3-2 up.  Jack Mullan kept his head to level matters, but Northwood scored their fourth on the trot meaning they had to score just one more, or see Ashford miss, to win.  Samad Kazi kept Ashford in it but up stepped Northwood for what would have been the winner.  Paul McCarthy though made a hero of himself by saving the shot and advantage was back with Ashford when Jim Mann’s unstoppable effort put his side 5-4 up.  McCarthy then repeated his heroics to save again and Ashford were through.

For Northwood, it was a cruel way to miss out on a cup final and their exemplary sportsmanship well merited the applause from Ashford supporters as they left the field.  From Ashford’s point of view though, their season will be rejuvenated knowing that they have this Final to look forward to and that will hopefully be evident when they step out on Saturday at home to Guildford City in yet another very tough match at Short Lane.

Don’t forget that the Under-18’s will be trying to make it a successful week all round when they travel to Northwood on Thursday evening for a Ryman Youth League match, kick-off 7.45 p.m.