Zamaretto League, Central Division
With Oscar Lubwama, Akwasi Edusei, Tom Kanek, Jones Awuah all absent through injury and late drop-out Jermaine Brown sick, manager Jamie Lawrence named three under 18s in the starting line up, all of whom acquitted themselves very well.
The short comings of Ashfords brand of passing football were revealed on Saturday on a pitch, that was like most this time of the season, hard and uneven but, even so, the visitors were out fought, out run, out played and out smarted by a resolute and business like Barton side that relied heavily on endeavour over flamboyant skills.
Ashford’s players looked as if they could not wait for the end of the season, and lacked the sense of purpose and cutting edge to their play that Barton had in excess. The visitors cause was not helped when a defensive mix-up between the goal keeper and his central defenders allowed Sam Spencer the opportunity to ram the ball home from close range after only 11 minutes, following a ballooned cross from the right that looked as if it was going out for a goal kick only for the strong wind to keep it in play and drop it into the six yard box.
Ashford’s chances were either snuffed out or taken from long range and the danger posed by the experienced Isaiah Rankin was nullified by the excellent Luke Knight and Paul Andrews, indeed, it was 17 year old Connor Moody that caught the eye in the Ashford attack but neither made Richard Wilmot break sweat in the Barton goal.
Barton went further ahead in the 21st minute when Russell Bull volleyed home a Spencer free kick and could have added to the score line 6 minutes later as Bull advanced into the Ashford half and crossed to Ricky Case who laid the ball back into the path of the incoming Liam McDevitt but the midfielder fired wildly over Paul McCarthy’s bar.
Jamie Lawrence made a tactical substitution late in the first half, bringing on Martynas Butkas in place of Samad Kazi.
With five minutes of the half remaining the visitors pulled a goal back, Moody tried to run onto a ball played into the Barton penalty area only to be pulled back by a defender. Referee Mr O’Donnell, who had a good game himself, had no hesitation in pointing to the spot where Jordan Kiffin despatched the penalty.
Barton could have reinstated their two goal advantage 10 minutes into the second half when Bull flicked the ball on from a long throw but Aaron King’s shot was high then, three minutes later, Russ Canderton joined the growing Ashford injury list as he limped off with a reoccurrence of a knee injury to be replaced by player/manager Jamie Lawrence, necessitating a re-shuffle on the pitch with Kiffin moving to left back, Butkus to the centre of defence and Jim Mann to right back as Lawrence took his place in midfield.
In the 70th minute another free kick by the hosts gave them their third goal of the game, Spencer again played a decent ball into the Ashford penalty area where Bull got a touch, the ball ran to Case who rammed the ball past McCarthy at the near post.
Eight minutes later it was four as King ran unchallenged through the non-existent Ashford defence to fire past the static McCarthy then, shortly after, the visitors were awarded a penalty when Christian Nanetti was adjudged to have been fouled in the process of shooting, Kiffin stepped up to score his second of the game.
Barton’s fifth goal came on the stroke of 90 minutes when Spencer capped a fine personal match by blasting an unstoppable shot past McCarthy from the edge of the Ashford penalty box then, three minutes into time added, Ashford’s humiliation was complete when Case ran unchecked down the Barton right and, with Spencer making a decoy run to the near post, delivered a pin-point cross to the far post where substitute Russell Preston headed home forcefully.
One positive to come out of this match was the emergence of another three players from Ben Murray’s exciting Under-18 team, striker Moody, winger Mitchell Fountain and central midfielder Max Webb played very well in difficult circumstances and on a difficult pitch and I’m sure, will be making plenty more appearances next season, if not this.