Cherry Red Records Premier Challenge Cup - 2nd Round

Ashford 5  CB Hounslow United 0

As the match proceeded towards its inevitable conclusion, the mood was tense as speculation grew and rumour persisted that visitors CB Hounslow would become another team this season not to provide a boardroom representative after the match.  Perhaps word of the Chairman’s fricassee had gone round but he was ready this time and surprised us all with a steaming cauldron of chili con carne that could not be faulted.

The rumour became the inalienable truth as realisation dawned that CB were indeed not going to be present.  Not a visiting committee man could be seen but disaster was again averted as six good men and true from the Tangerines, some rarely seen in a boardroom before, and one fair lady, in the comely shape of Mrs. Cox, gathered round to pass their verdict upon the Chairman’s offerings.  Even Deputy Groundsman Balmer had laid down his pitchfork and tucked in.  Junior Chairman Bailey, surprisingly, moderated his consumption after the previous week’s excesses but referee Kelly, already making his third appearance of the season, soon to become four, and his worthy assistants, were all up for it and by the end there was not a grain of rice to be seen.  The Chairman told a story or two and everybody was entertained, apart from the nameless two who fell asleep. It was thought though they may have heard the stories before and were excused.

As to the match itself, Ben Murray had made no less than nine changes from the side that took the field on Saturday, with several of the lads getting their first start after spending weeks on the subs bench and it was good to see them getting a game.

CB were something of an unknown quantity.  They had won fair and square in a pre-season friendly at Short Lane and had made a reasonable start to their season but had slipped a bit lately and had lost 1-6 to Cobham in their previous match. 

It became clear very quickly that the changes had not unduly weakened Ashford and within seven minutes the game was effectively over as Ashford scored twice.  The first came from the spot after Samad Kazi had been fouled and without usual penalty taker Mark Bitmead on the field, it was Ryan Dearden, later named  “Ashford Man of the Match”, along with Tom Hill, who stepped in and very confidently rolled the ball into the corner of the net.  CB keeper Samson Okpor could not be faulted for that one but he could for the next. This time it was a free kick from just outside the area and Clarke Thorley’s effort, whilst on target, had little pace and should not have presented a problem.  Sadly for CB the keeper somehow misjudged the flight and ended up helping the ball into the net.

Ashford seemed almost immediately to rather take their foot off the pedal after that but whilst the visitors played some nice football at times, they rarely threatened to get a foothold into the match and the inevitable third goal arrived just before half time when Kazi outstripped the defence and just managed to elude Okpor’s last gasp lunge, which would otherwise have surely seen him sent-off, and shot into an empty net.

The second half saw Conor Moody making it four on 52 minutes, after which the match rather meandered towards its conclusion.  CB continued to play some neat but generally ineffective football when in possession, although Ashford were lucky not to concede a penalty (and a sending-off) when a visiting forward took a tumble.  It looked all the world like a foul from the far end, and there were some dark mutterings indeed from the CB bench but referee Kelly was up with play and saw nothing wrong.

Kieran Wright incurred the sole caution of the evening but the final word went to Kazi, who deep in stoppage time, nodded in a fifth goal after Max Webb’s piledriver had been charged down by Okpor, who, apart from his early error, had played well for the visitors.

Ashford await the 3rd Round Draw but do now know that they will be away to Chessington & Hook United in the 2nd Round of the Southern Combination Challenge Cup, the latter having beaten Spelthorne Sports on penalties last night in the 1st Round after a one-one draw after extra time.

In the League, there were good wins for both Epsom & Ewell and Westfield, at the expense of Guildford City and Badshot Lea respectively, whilst managerless Hanworth Villa picked up a point against FA Cup heroes Raynes Park Vale.  As in previous seasons, Old Hamptonians demonstrated that they are no mugs, winning 2-0 at Ash United in the S. Comb. Cup.

Ashford now look forward to the visit of Chertsey Town on Saturday and a preview of that one will be on the site later in the week.  Finally thanks to Pat Munns who has provided some professional looking programme covers which most certainly enhance the efforts of Phil Marshall and Mark Tobin upon the inner pages.