Ashford Town (Middlesex) 0
Hendon 2

Ryman League Premier Division,
Short Lane Stadium
3rd January 2009

Ashford’s dismal run of results continued with this 2 – 0 reversal against struggling Hendon who arrived at Short Lane in 21st place. Injury kept out Byron Harrison (ankle) and Brett Cooper with their places being claimed by Scott Harris and Ricardo Joseph.

Good early work from Warren Harris, who, along with Stuart Bamford was the pick of the Ashford bunch, was halted when he was unfairly bought down but Paul Johnson’s in-swinging free kick was dealt with by Hendon keeper William Viner.

As the visitors looked for an early advantage themselves, Bamford relieved Harry Hunt of the ball and sent Johnson away. The Ashford skipper played Warren Harris in, his shot was deflected to Gavin Smith (pictured, left) and his clever back heel found Ricky Wellard whose shot was blocked.

But Hendon looked dangerous in attack and a free kick on the quarter hour mark gave the lofty Marc Leach a chance but his misdirected header was plucked out of the air by Paul Burgess then, shortly after, a good cross from the left by Sam Byfield forced Burgess into a full length diving save to punch the ball away from Hunt.

The hosts should have taken the lead in the 20th minute with a good move started on the left by Bamford who held the ball up before playing a perfectly timed ball into the path of the over-lapping Ricardo Joseph whose low cross was spurned by both Warren Harris and Smith as it flashed across the goal mouth.

Two more attempts went begging, one Adam Logie put wide then a Warren Harris free kick ventured too close to Viner before a goal bound header by Smith from a Johnson free kick hit a defender and went out for a corner.

Hendon took the lead a minute before half time. The ball was played in to the feet of Hunt who held the ball up before back-heeling into the path of James Bent who coolly slid the ball past Burgess.

Paul Johnson and the Harris brothers battle for the ball.  Photo by Steve McCarthy

Paul Johnson and the Harris brothers battle for the ball. Photo by Steve McCarthy

The visitors found themselves down to ten men for the start of the second half, Leach was alleged to have pushed Logie in the face giving referee Mr Muge no option but to show him the red card.

Burgess again found himself in the thick of the action saving a free kick from Byfield before Wellard sent Warren Harris away down the left. Harris checked his run and sent a deep cross to the far post where Logie rose above the Hendon defence only to see his powerful header bounce off the bar to safety. Then the same player launched a long throw into the Hendon penalty area causing mayhem as three shots were blocked before the visitors desperately cleared their lines.

Ashford, at times, were showing some delightful touches but Hendon, with Hunt to the fore, always looked dangerous on the break, fully illustrated by the way they took their second goal. Ashford, pushing up, were caught on the break as a pass between Johnson and Wellard was intercepted and the ball played forward where Hunt and Bent held the ball up for the arrival of Byfield who curled a shot from the left past Burgess and in off the far post.

Ashford have won just four league matches since September and are rapidly becoming the whipping boys of this division. With due respect to Hendon, Heybridge and Ramsgate these are teams that should be beaten especially at home.