Barton Rovers

Although it is points rather than positives required, Ben Murray will certainly take plenty of the latter from Saturday’s 0-2 reverse at 3rd placed Barton Rovers.

Newcomer Dan Hughes from Chalfont St. Peter was on the bench and showed when he came on that he will be an admirable replacement for Scott Weight who now begins his latest suspension.  Also making his debut, with Tyler Tobin still injured, was goalkeeper Gary Malone from Wealdstone, who could do little about the two goals that were conceded.

We received our usual excellent welcome and hospitality from Barton.  They have surprised many this season by being at or around the top of the table, playing a generally long ball game with a physical emphasis which clearly works for them.  On a bobbly pitch, Ashford found it difficult to pass the ball at times, even short balls often going astray and found themselves adapting the same tactics as the home side but with lesser success as Barton scored shortly before half-time and doubled the lead, despite Ashford’s levels of possession, as the match drifted to its conclusion in front of a small attendance, sadly hardly augmented by any support for the visitors.

Up front Nathan Turner toiled away manfully throughout and hit one screamer in the second half which deserved a better fate than to brush the side netting, when another inch or so would have seen one of Ashford’s best goals of the season.  Cyril Ocansey also proved a real handful at times and seems to be improving with every match.  The Barton captain was possibly quite lucky in the first half to get away with only yellow when he very deliberately chopped Cyril down on the edge of the area.  Indeed whilst it did not affect the scoreline in any way, the refereeing once again seemed inconsistent with some obvious fouls on both sides being overlooked with other less serious instances being punished.  It would have been interesting to obtain the referee’s view on another situation when, having put up with prolonged grief from a Barton player, he dealt with it sensibly by calling over the home captain, he failed to so the same thing when instantly cautioning Joel Jacobs for a single unwarranted remark.

The bottom line is that there is no lack of either spirit or endeavour in this current Ashford squad but that little bit of extra craft and quality throughout the team that would ensure a better goal return is not quite there at the minute.  Despite the failure to garner any points one senses nevertheless that the tide will soon turn which it certainly needs to if Ashford are to avoid the ignominious drop back to Step 5.

Ashford are back at home next Saturday, when Aylesbury United are the visitors.  Ashford have not played them since the two sides met in the FA Cup in October 2004, when Aylesbury had their own superb ground and were a top team.  On that day though Ashford came out on top, scoring the only goal of the game through Ryan Lake to book their place in the 4th Qualifying Round of the FA Cup.