The FA Cup with Budweiser, Preliminary Round
Ashford’s young side exited this season’s FA Cup at the first hurdle on Saturday against a robust experienced Burnham side that came back from a goal down to seize upon 2 mistakes to inflict the ultimate punishment.
For the first quarter of an hour the game flowed from end to end, Pietro Palladino and Dan Brown made sure Burnham custodian Jamie Jackson was concentrating while Adam Dickins and Leigh Mason looked particularly lively for the hosts.
With 19 minutes on the clock Brown chased down a ball down the right, cut in and sent a curling left footer just wide of the far post then Palladino sent his strike partner away with a quick throw-in where he forced a corner.
Brown showed tenacity in challenging and winning the ball in midfield on 25 minutes, Josh Andrew played the ball back out to Brown on the right and he sent over a perfectly weighted low cross for Palladino to side foot past Jackson to give the visitors the lead.
Far from going on to dominate the proceedings by utilising the superior pace of their front two, Ashford kept hitting long balls onto the head of Burnham’s giant central defender Will Dunlop instead of playing the ball past him on the ground and allowing Brown and Palladino the chance to test Jackson.
It wasn’t only in defence that Burnham had a height advantage, as Burnham came back at Ashford Curtis Elsgood made several forays down the right looking to find the head of Ryan Bird with one particular cross evading all when all it needed was a touch for the equaliser.
The equaliser did come however, in the 42nd minute, when Adam Dickens ventured into the right side of the Ashford penalty area where he managed to trick his way past Russ Canderton and shoot across Paul McCarthy and in at the far post.
Two minutes later Burnham had a great chance to go in at the break a goal to the good. Ryan Bird broke through the Ashford back line and advanced on McCarthy but a superb stop by the big keeper kept the scores level.
Shortly after the re-start Mark Bitmead received the ball on the left from a great cross-field pass from Andrew and elected to cut in where he went close and a Palladino drive from an acute angle was taken well by Jackson as the visitors looked to regain the lead.
But it was the home side that took the lead. In the 74th minute Bird latched on to a ball on the right and seemed to attract the Ashford defence towards him before clipping over a cross that found substitute Craig O’Connor in acres of space and he gave McCarthy no chance with his well taken half-volley.
Late in the game Paul Burgess sent defender Bairoh Conteh up front to compete with Dunlop and the youngster equitted himself very well, but it was Burnham who held on to go into the hat for the next round while ‘Burgess’ boys’ will learn from this defeat and hopefully adapt their tactics to the situation in future games.