19 Mar 19: Abbey Rangers 1 Ashford 1 (Ashford won 6-5 on pens). S. Comb. Cup – 3rd Round (QF)

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Ashford made it through to the semi-final of the Southern Combination Cup last night by the slimmest of margins, winning 6-5 on penalties, following a 1-1 draw.

This was the first time that Ashford had faced Abbey in a competitive match although there have been a number of friendlies in recent seasons. The Tangerines knew beforehand that this would be a tough match against a side sitting in 3rd place in the CCL and so it proved. Play was largely end to end throughout the first half but real goal scoring opportunities were at a premium and it took until the 41st minute for the opening goal to arrive and it was the Tangerines who scored it. A crude tackle just inside the home penalty area led to a penalty kick. Up stepped Jack Beadle and he had little difficulty in opening the scoring.

The second half took a different pattern with Abbey enjoying the greater possession but the visitors were coping well at the back although creating very little themselves. Despite the levels of possession enjoyed by the home side an equaliser had not really looked as if it would happen. Then it did and, as so often, it came from an error as Tyler Tobin, whose handling had been perfection to that point seemed to misjudge a deep right wing cross, the ball ending up in the back of the net, with eight minutes on the clock. Abbey sensed victory but no further goals materialised and indeed, Ashford might easily have secured a winner themselves at the death when Abbey were unable to clear the ball but no-one in a tangerine shirt was able to force the ball over the line, following a superb cross from Tom Dillaway.

There is no extra time in this competition, so matters proceeded to a penalty shoot out, which turned out to be one of the more exciting ones with the balance swinging to and fro. The first eight penalties were all scored, Ashford’s coming from Steve Loveridge, Jack Beadle, Kofi Lockhart-Adams and Tom Dillaway. Up stepped Tyler Tobin to take Ashford’s 5th but he ballooned the ball over the net to give Abbey an immediate opportunity to score their fifth goal and win the tie, Fortunately for Ashford, the next Abbey taker saw Tobin redeem himself by saving his effort. Young Leo Decabo was up next and his excellent strike made it 5-4 to the visitors. They then made it 5 apiece. Tommy Brunton then missed when he could have won the tie only to see the next Abbey man have his effort saved as well when, had he scored, it would have been the winner. It was Ashford’s turn again and Scott Weight made it 6-5 and Tobin then redeemed himself even further with a smart save to give the Tangerines the win by 6 penalties to 5.

Ashford will be at home to Walton Casuals in the semi-final on a date to be announced. The other semi-final is between Sutton Common Rovers and Hanworth Villa.

It’s back to the League on Saturday when we welcome Uxbridge FC to Short Lane, kick-off 3.00 p.m. More on that one later in the week.

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