Zamaretto League Central Division,
Two first half goals and two late dismissals were the highlights of this scrappy encounter. Ashford had made three changes to the team from the previous week, returning from injury, Jim Mann and Rico Morris replaced Rob Curtis and Akwasi Edusei at right and left back, with Edusei pushing up to his usual position on the left wing in place of Mark Bitmead who joined Curtis on the bench. Also handed a start was Tom Kanek, in place of the suspended Luke Hickie, who had impressed when he came off the bench the week before.
It was Kanek who tried to get on the end of a through ball from Morris in the first minute but Courtney Belford, in the Atherstone goal, just beat him to it then, at the other end, Martin Crawford fired high over Paul Burgess’
bar after being put through by Tom Weale.
Kanek was back in the action soon after when he found Morris on the left who, in turn, played in Edusei. The Ashford winger wasted no time in delivering a cross to Jamie Lawrence but the ball looked to have bobbled and his shot went high over.
Pedantic refereeing by Mr Taafe did not help the game to flow, constantly blowing for the slightest infringement and it was from one of these free kicks that Atherstone opened the scoring. The ball was played into the Ashford penalty area where Burgess came to claim it but missed giving Nathan Waite had the easiest of chances to tap into the empty net.
The visitors had another good chance shortly after, again from a free kick, given against Russ Canderton but good defending by Billy Jeffreys averted the danger.
Kanek tried his luck, on the half hour, but, coming in off the right wing, he saw his shot curl just wide of the far post but, two minutes later, Jim Mann showed how it was done as he latched on to a ball from Kanek, drifted past three defenders and shot across Belford and into the net at the far post for a deserved equaliser.
Just prior to half time, Jordan Kiffin blasted over from the edge of the box.
The second half saw Ashford push up but the visitors looked dangerous on the break, especially Waite and Josh Ruff, but Jeffreys and his fellow defenders were alert to any threats posed.
After Alain Behi had watched his shot sail over Belford’s bar, Greg Moseley sent a dipping cross into the Ashford penalty area but Waite could only glance his header wide before Moseley went into referee Taafe’s book for a foul on Kanek.
On the hour, Isaiah Rankin had a couple of shots deflected for corners and Burgess did well to gather up a dangerous free kick.
With fifteen minutes of normal time remaining, substitute Mark Bitmead sent over a teasing cross to Lawrence but the Ashford player/manager could only watch as his header cannoned off the Atherstone bar to safety.
Referee Taafe felt he had cause to deliver a lecture to both sets of coaches, shortly after, with one of the Atherstone bench, Dale Belford, sent from the technical area.
In the fifth minute of ‘time added on’, Atherstone substitute Todd Perry went in very late on Paul Burgess as he gathered up a low ball provoking a violent reaction from Billy Jeffreys who, along with Perry, was shown the red card.