Ryman League Premier Division,
This was Ashford’s ninth match in nineteen days and it showed as they succumbed to three late goals, two within the five minutes of added time ridiculously awarded by referee O’Brien. To make matters worse, both Anthony Joseph and Ricky Wellard limped off during the match to join Vinnie O’Sullivan, Billy Jeffreys, Jon Palmer, Paul Johnson and Scott Weight on the ever increasing injury list.
Tonbridge started strongly with Carl Rook firing in an early shot that went well wide then Anthony Joseph was fouled leading to a freekick which Ricky Wellard sent curling in toward the Tonbridge penalty area but Tim Olorunda managed a headed clearance.
Joseph, sensing that he had the beating of his marker Simon Glover, proceeded to attack him at every opportunity and for the remainder of the time he was on the pitch, dismantled the unfortunate Tonbridge full back with a scintillating display of pace and skill.
Tonbridge should have taken the lead as early as the eleventh minute when Brett Cooper’s intended clearance rebounded off Paul Booth who ran on but touched his shot narrowly wide. The hosts though were starting to pile on the pressure, Booth forced a great diving save from Ashford keeper Craig Ross who touched the Tonbridge striker’s shot onto the bar then Ross executed another excellent stop from former Woking winger Steve Ferguson from a good cross by Tommy Tyne.
Ross was again called into action, soon after, to dive full length to pull off a good save from a free kick by Anthony Storey before Storey was the recipient of good combination play between Lee Minshull and Glover but could only watch his rising effort clear Ross’ bar.
Joseph continued to be the visitors most likely attacking outlet and his control on the turn, on the half-hour, and run down the right left Glover trailing in his wake before he found Byron Harrison who turned his marker, but Glover managed to get into position to clear at the cost of a corner.
Ashford lost Ricky Wellard, three minutes later, as he limped off to be replaced by Warren Harris.
Another run and cross by Joseph found Luke Pigden, just outside the Tonbridge area, but his powerful shot was blocked, then a good run and cross by Tyne produced another good stop by Ross, this time from Rook.
Ashford’s Adam Logie received a caution for a foul on Tonbridge keeper Lee Worgan early in the second half as the visitors upped the pace. Then, in the 52nd minute they took the lead. A Warren Harris cross aimed at brother Scott came back to him off of a defender, he cut inside and firmly tucked the ball past Worgan and just inside the far post.
A sense of urgency seemed to purvey the hosts and they pushed more men up looking for the equaliser. Storey embarked upon a diagonal run across the pitch trying to find the space for a shot which, when he did, blazed high and wide, then Joseph took time off from tormenting his fullback to chase back to hold up Rook forcing the Tonbridge striker to play the ball back to Glover whose cross was headed over by Booth.
That was Joseph’s last action as, he too, limped off with 17 year old Danny Byron coming on in his place.
Ashford increased their lead on the hour when Harrison was hauled back by Tim Olorunda as he bore down on Worgan, Olorunda was dismissed and Harrisonslammed the ball past the static Tonbridge keeper and into the top corner of the net.
Warren Harris headed into the keepers arms from a Byron cross, soon after, and then Tyne had a good shot blocked at the other end.
Glover found himself in the referee’s book when he took out Scott Harris, followed by Rook who, while waiting for the delivery of a free kick, decided to amuse himself by pushing Logie over.
Tonbridge went close when Ferguson dispossessed Ricardo Joseph and crossed to Booth who, unmarked, missed an open goal with his head and, a minute later, Harrison had the chance to win the game for Ashford when he collected a good pass from Joseph, broke clear but, with just the keeper to beat, elected to square the ball to Warren Harris instead of shooting, Harris blazed over.
Tonbridge, roared on by a vociferous support whose ‘witty’ observations made mockery of the many notice boards surrounding the pitch warning of instant ejection from the ground if language was deemed to be of a racist, sexist or obscene nature, pulled a goal back in the 87th minute when Ferguson orchestrated a good move which culminated in Rook scoring with a header that looped over Ross, then, 3 minutes into injury time, Ferguson himself latched on to a low cross from the right to score from close range. Ashford were rueing missed opportunities 2 minutes later when a tremendous volley from substitute Fraser Logan sealed a remarkable come back for the home team.
Another busy week beckons for the Middlesex side as, on Tuesday they face an away trip to Tooting and Mitcham FC while on Thursday they entertain Epsom and Ewell FC in the semi-final of the Surrey Senior Cup followed by Harrow Borough FC at Short Lane in the league, bringing the total of games played in the previous 28 days to 13.