Put the suits away, Ashford are out of the FA Cup after losing at Hampton on Saturday by four goals to two and  what a frustrating afternoon it was after going two goals up early in the second half.

An inexperienced side took the field, with Alex Duffy suspended and both Jim Mann and Chris Robinson unavailable.  Paul MCarthy came back in goal with Tyler Tobin also unavailable whilst new signing from Uxbridge Jamie Connor was on the bench.  Ryan Dearden came in for his 1st Team debut at right back whilst reserve top scorer Joe Lynch was also on the bench.  Harry Roberts was playing just his second match partnering Russell Canderton in defence.

Ashford started so well and deservedly took the lead midway through the half when Harry Roberts, in only his second start, scrambled the ball home following a Mark Bitmead corner.  As the half wore on Hampton had their moments but the clearest chance fell to Bitmead, clean through just before half-time, only for Rodney Chiweshie in the home goal to make an excellent save from his full bloodied effort.

Ashford supporters were again given something to cheer though immediately at the start of the second period when Bitmead crashed home a free kick from distance to double the lead.  Then though came the crucial point of the match with Hampton more or less going straight down the field and reducing the arrears.  A soft free kick, one of many throughout the afternoon given against Ashford by referee Smith, who seemed to have his blinkers on for much of the time, saw the ball swung in, and for the second week in a row, a free header ensued.

That was the catalyst needed by the home side and it was not a major surprise when they drew level on 71 minutes.  Ashford were unable to re-summon the resolve and skill they had showed in the opening period and a rampant Hampton then took the lead with another goal just a minute later.  Ashford did rally a little after that but rarely looked as if they could rescue the match and as they threw caution to the wind in the last few minutes, Hampton rubbed it in with a fourth goal two minutes into stoppage time.

Maybe the writing was on the wall beforehand as this was Ashford’s 11th attempt over the years to achieve a win against their opponents in various competitive matches and, apart from a meaningless friendly back in 1992, they have never managed it, although every single game has been close, the majority ending either in a draw or an odd goal victory for Hampton.

It’s another busy midweek coming up.  This evening (Monday) the Under-18’s will entertain Woking U18 in the 1st Round of the Lucas Fettes (League) Cup, kick-off 7.45 p.m. whilst on Tuesday, the 1st Team travel to meet Chertsey Town in the League, when Ashford should have a full strength squad from which to choose.  Kick-off at Alwyns Lane is 7.45 p.m.  On Wednesday, the Suburban League side are at home to Berkhamsted in the Suburban League Cup (1st Round, 1st leg).