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Ashford Town (Middlesex) 3

Staines Town U18

Staines Town 3

Ryman Youth League, West Division
Robert Parker Stadium
10th September 2012

After the fantastic performance last week could the young tangerines produce the same again in the big local derby? What was to unfold was, in the famous public school analogy, ‘a game of two halves’. 

Things were set to be a great game with the two local teams on top of their games and the boys didn’t disappoint. Great conditions again for Ashford to show what they could do to the expectant home crowd after such a comprehensive display against Camberley and the game started well for the home team. New signing Luke Wilson was a threat early on and the first chance came after Wilson got fouled near the edge of the Staines box. The resultant freekick found top goal scorer Eva Batousal free but he failed to get a touch on the whipped in cross. Things were tight in the early exchanges but Ashford seemed slightly on top. Things were to change midway thought the first half. With Staines building up some kind of momentum, midfielder George Lavander had to leave the field of play after a clash of heads. Whilst Lavender was being patched up Staines broke through to score after Ashford failed to regroup. 0-1 to Staines and with the wind in their sails they took a grip on the game. Soon after Staines made it 0-2 with a good finish from a long throw in to the near post. The young tangerines looked on the ropes and the half time whistle was a welcome reprieve and gave Ashford the chance to reorganize. 

 It was a calm changing room but the boys looked focussed and there was a feeling that they wanted to show that they could respond to being two down. A slight change in formation gave captain Conor Molyneaux a more advanced role and it looked like the system was working. However, an extremely harsh penalty decision gave Staines the opportunity to effectively put the game to bed and with the stroke of a right foot Staines took a three goal lead. What happened next though was nothing short of inspirational. Within five minutes Ashford had responded after a fine move found top scorer Eva Batousal free and his curling finish was exquisite. It was game on. Soon after Ashford was awarded a penalty when Tom Bovington took on his fullback and was tripped in the box. Captain Conor Molyneaux stepped up but his tame effort was kept out by the Staines keeper. However that didn’t stop the now rampant Ashford and within minutes Conor Molyneaux made up for his penalty miss by chipping the keeper from an acute angle to make it 2-3. Every player had a job to do to try and get back on equal terms and keeper Tyler Tobin produced a great save which he had to follow up by bicycle kicking the ball off the line, on to the post and cross bar to safety! Still in the game the young tangerines pushed for an equaliser and it came with ten minutes of the game remaining. Luke Wilson smashed the ball home after Bovington had curled a shot which hit the back post and rebounded to Wilson who made no mistake. 3-3 all and the players bundled debutant Wilson to the floor to celebrate a great comeback. The game ended 3-3 after a couple of near chances for Ashford to snatch a win but the points were shared in a great local derby. The supporters definitely got their monies worth!

What a game and what a comeback. With the game almost dead and buried the young tangerines produced what was an incredible comeback, even missing a penalty in the process. What this highlighted was that after two fantastic performances that consistency was required. In two games Ashford had played the opposition off the park in three of the four halves. However if you are not at your best in this league you will be punished. What was pleasing though was that the boys showed that they could play and compete with a team that has won the league for the last two years. Next week brings a difficult away trip to Hayes and Yeading in the FA Youth Cup. Could the boys take a step towards the first round proper? With a performance similar to that of the second half vs. Staines anything is possible.

Squad: Tyler, Lynch, Woollard, Neville, Molyneaux (Sam), Bovington, Lavander, Molyneaux (Connor) (Capt), Wilson, Marklew, Batousal, Umoh, Read, Dyett, Penfold

Man of Match: Conor Molyneaux       

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Photos by Steve McCarthy