MATCH PREVIEW: Ashford vs South Park
by Alan Constable
Ashford find themselves playing at home on Saturday against South Park FC. The visitors will arrive in 14th place in the table, although that means very little at the moment of course, having won one and lost one of their two opening league matches, namely a 0-2 defeat away to Waltham Forest and, on Tuesday evening, a 3-2 win over Northwood. In the FA Cup they beat Hythe Town 2-1 but then lost on penalties to Bognor Regis in the next round.
South Park came up to the Isthmian League from Step 5 (CCL) after winning promotion at the end of the 2013-2014 season. Their best season since then was in 2016-201 when they finished 8th but arguably the match that most of their supporters will recall came in the FA Trophy, when they won through to the 2nd Round Proper in 2016-2017 and were drawn away to Tranmere Rovers, during their sabbatical in the National League. Although South Park lost 1-4, they gave a good account of themselves and have maintained relations with the Liverpool club ever since.
As far as our games against them are concerned, probably the most memorable was a pre-season friendly on 5 August 2017 when a violent storm appeared, causing instant flooding to the extent that the match had to be abandoned at half-time, with nobody having found the net.
The first competitive match between the clubs was in October 2017 when we met at their ground in the 1st Round of the Surrey Senior Cup. After a 2-2 draw, ours from Webb and Beadle, South Park triumphed on penalties, winning by 4 to 2.
The first league match was a year later on 8 Dec 2018, when we did a little better, managing to win by 5 goals to 2, with a hattrick from Mark Bitmead, and strikes from James Cottee, now back with us and Nebay Haile. Last season the result at South Park was a 3-3 draw, an equaliser coming for us with virtually the last kick of the match from Okwu-Ndubuisi, who had come on as a substitute for his debut a little while earlier. We then followed that up with a more solid 3-0 home win at Short Lane.
After Saturday’s match, we travel to Northwood on Tuesday 13th October, followed next Saturday by the home tie against Whitstable Town in the FA Trophy.