It was only a point but it came as a huge relief as the longest, most distressing run of defeats in the club’s history was finally halted on Saturday, following a 2-2 draw away at 6th placed Royston Town, many of whose supporters and directors were extremely complimentary following the match.  Without doubt they are one of the most hospitable clubs in the League and it will be one of many regrets if Ashford do not get the opportunity to return there next season.

The portents were not great before the game with the news that skipper Russell Canderton was injured, along with Dan Hughes, Scott Elgar and impressive new central defender Greg Ngeno, all missing from last Tuesday.   Ashford started quite brightly though and Conor Moody came close to taking advantage of some unwise dallying on the ball by the home keeper.  Royston though soon came into the game and Tyler Tobin was kept busy.  He could not prevent the home side going ahead on 24 minutes though and the immediate thought was “here we go again” as Royston threatened to take over the match.  The latest central defending partnership of Jack Mulland and Jim Mann though were in determined mood and by hook or by crook there were no further goals at half-time.  In an increasingly rare Ashford attach Jack Beadle had hit an unstoppable effort but it went just over the bar.

The second half was certainly more even with the home side looking anxious at the back at times and with James Awosifan clearly struggling with injury, he was replaced by debutant Rhys Price who almost immediately had a hand in Ashford’s equaliser.  His presence caused the home keeper to rather flap at the ball and Conor Moody, following up, slid the ball home.  The eight Ashford supporters were calmly ecstatic but the ecstacy reached a new height just three minutes later when Scott Weight scored Ashford’s goal of the season with a cracking drive from some 25 yards which no keeper would have stopped, to put the visitors ahead.

With 25 minutes to go one started to wonder if Ashford could manage a monumental surprise against one of the clubs well in running for honours.  In the end it was not quite as monumental as it might have been as Royston equalised in the 72nd minute, Tobin allowing a free kick from just outside the area, rather carelessly conceded by Tom Brunton, to escape his clutches.  Once again one feared the worst as Royston pushed forward but Ashford held out, not exactly comfortably but their commitment to preserving a valuable and unexpected point was wholehearted and in the end most certainly deserved.

It would be wrong to single too many players out but the determination on show made a mockery of some of the poorer displays this season.  Mann and Mullan were superb at the back, aided by full backs Ben Ewing and Ryan Dearden, who stuck to their task admirably.  In midfield, Scott Weight was named by Royston in the NLP as “man of the match” whilst Elliott Jones showed a new side to his game, covering every inch of the pitch.  Connor Moody, seemingly playing as an out and out front man, was a thorn in the side of the opposition from the start and seems to have blossomed with a regular place in the team.

The sober reality is that Ashford are still as far away as they were from avoiding relegation, with Chertsey winning at Beaconsfield yesterday, but there is no doubt that the squad will be in excellent heart for Tuesday’s visit of Aylesbury to Short Lane on Tuesday and that is followed on Saturday by the visit of fellow strugglers Leighton Town.  If points can be garnered from these two games, things may well look a little different next Saturday evening.  We need as many Ashford supporters present for both matches as possible please.