Ashford’s comeback leaves Billericay bereft
Ryman League Premier Division,
Ashford endured a nightmare start against the division’s on form side, finding themselves two goals down in the first thirteen minutes, but they battled back to parity before half time and snatched victory in time added on.
Manager Jamie Lawrence made five changes to the side that performed so woefully against Waltham Abbey the previous Saturday, Vinnie O’Sullivan came in at right back for Brett Cooper who moved to left back in place of Ricardo Joseph who was unavailable, club skipper Paul Johnson returned in place of Adam Logie and Jamie England replaced Scott Weight in the centre of midfield while leading scorer Byron Harrison reprised his partnership up front with Brian Haule at the expense of Scott Harris.
The home side were guilty of sleeping, in the second minute, as a long throw by Russell Pond was left to bounce towards Lee Kersey who volleyed past Paul Burgess to give the visitors a dream start, but Ashford had a good chance to equalise three minutes later through Johnson who side footed past the left hand post after good work from Warren Harris and Brian Haule.
Despite having a good percentage of the play, things went from bad to worse for the Middlesex side when, in the thirteenth minute, Danny Green managed to get on the end of a cross from the Billericay right to head past Burgess to ensure an uphill struggle for their hosts.
Ashford looked a little vulnerable at the back but, as time went on, they steadied themselves and came back into the game as their confidence grew.
In the twenty fourth minute Ashford pulled a goal back (pictured). Jamie England, a recent acquisition from Carshalton Athletic, found Jermaine McGlashan who dummied his way past his marker on the way to the by-line before cutting the ball back to England, who had continued his run, for the Ashford midfielder to head home his first goal for his new club on his full debut.
McGlashan was proving to be a productive outlet for his side, attacking his marker with pace and guile and, in doing so, provoking one or two enthusiastic tackles from the Billericay defenders.
McGlashan was not the only player to receive some robust challenges, Byron Harrison was taken out by Chris Wild, off the ball, but Johnson’s resulting free kick was placed too close to Andy Walker in the visitors goal then, in the thirty ninth minute, Ashford equalised. England played the ball out to Warren Harris and the young winger wasted no time in delivering a chipped cross that Harrison headed home for his 19th goal in all competitions this season.
Just before half time, McGlashan decided to go it alone and his mazy run was only halted by Walker who bravely saved at the flying winger’s feet. Shots from McGlashan and Harrison, for Ashford, were fired over Walker’s bar while Matt Hall shot wide for the visitors before referee Mr Power signalled the interval.
The second half started with Pond forcing a corner then, at the other end, chances from Vinnie O’Sullivan and England were blocked before Billericay defender Dave McSweeny executed a disgraceful two-footed challenge from behind on Brian Haule that earned him a caution.
A speculative long range drive from Guy Hollis bounced awkwardly in front of Walker, nearly catching him out then, shortly after, a deep cross to the far post by McGlashan was volleyed just wide by Warren Harris.
Billericay, although under pressure, looked dangerous on the break and James Baker and Danny Slatter had dangerous crosses cut out.
The home side produced, arguably, the best passage of play of the match, in the seventy ninth minute, with a series of one touch passes culminating with Warren Harris’ volley being well saved by Walker.
With a draw looking ever more on the cards, Ashford got the breakthrough that their second half display deserved. McGlashan was involved yet again as he skipped past two tackles to cross into the Billericay penalty area where the ball was half cleared as far as the waiting Paul Johnson. Johnson steadied himself before firing a shot against the foot of the right hand post but Warren Harris was first to react to the rebound and found the back of the net from close range.
This victory extended Jamie Lawrence’s undefeated run to eleven league matches and pushed his side up to seventh place and so they visit fifth placed Tooting & Mitcham with confidence high next Saturday.