Ryman League Premier Division,
For Ashford it was yet again a story of missed chances in a game that they really should have won. Canvey, despite having a good work ethic, are not the most skilful of sides but the visitors did not play to their own strengths and seemed quite happy to play Canvey at their own game, which meant banging the ball from one end of the pitch to the other instead of letting Ricky Wellard dictate the pace and direction of the game from midfield. When Wellard did manage to get on the ball, he released the pace of Warren Harris and Anthony Joseph, who are a good match for any full-back, for the two wide men to supply strikers Scott Harris and Byron Harrison.
The referee Mr Knight and his assistants also played a part in this match perfectly indicated in the 3rd minute when, after a mazy run that took him past three players, Wellard was kicked in the back of the leg as he was about to shoot, Knight and his assistant gave nothing.
A minute later, Wellard found Anthony Joseph on the left and the winger tore past Tarkan Mustafa before playing the ball in to Harrison whose cross was headed behind by Chris Moore for a corner.
With the visitors dominating the opening encounters, it looked a safe bet that it was only a matter of time before they scored, and they went very close in the 9th minute when Mel Capleton produced two excellent stops to keep out a Wellard drive, after skilful work by Scott Harris, then saving with his legs Harris’ follow up shot.
Capleton, far the busier of the two keepers in the first quarter, was grateful that a Wellard free kick, for a foul on Joseph, was directed straight into his arms as Harrison challenged, then a similar free kick, at the other end, taken by Stuart Ainsley, was bent round the Ashford defensive wall but Craig Ross was alert and pushed the ball round the post.
Referee Knight’s poor positioning managed to break up a promising Ashford attack by getting in the way of, and deflecting, a Wellard pass to the opposition, the ball was played out to Kevin Dobinson whose cross was headed over by Leon Antoine.
Good understanding between Scott Harris and Joseph gave them the chance to put two promising moves together in quick succession but they could not find the space for the final shot and good defending by Moore, on both occasions, finally cleared the danger.
Canvey, against the run of play, very nearly broke the deadlock on the half hour when they won a corner which top scorer Leon Gordon headed against Ross’ bar.
Another speedy attack, this time down the Ashford right, gave Warren Harris the opportunity to run onto Gavin Smith’s astute pass and the young winger wasted no time in getting past Andrew West before sending over a deep cross to where brother Scott was lurking, but Moore got a vital touch to put the ball out for a corner.
Late in the half, Luke Pigden showed a superb first touch to make space to cross low across the Canvey goal-mouth but, with Capleton beaten, there were no Ashford men in the vicinity to take advantage.
The home side showed more purpose in the second half, but an early attack involving Vinnie O’Sullivan, who continued his run after playing the ball into Wellard and receiving it back, sent over a deep cross which Moore just nicked off the head of Harrison to clear.
Canvey skipper Craig Davidson won the ball in the centre of midfield and laid the ball into the path of Gordon on the left, Gordon, in turn, found Ainsley but he shot wide when in a good position then Scott Harris challenged Capleton, at the other end, shooting just wide as he lost his balance.
On the hour Harrison showed good control in a tight situation, managing to poke the ball into the path of Joseph but Capleton was quickly off his line to punch clear, then West found Antoine with a fine ball but the Canvey striker’s shot was deflected to safety.
Canvey had a golden opportunity to open the scoring in the 68th minute when they were awarded a very soft penalty by referee Knight for an alleged trip by Smith but Davidson crashed his spot kick against the Ashford bar and out for a goal kick.
The game ebbed and flowed from end to end, Smith sent Joseph through but West hooked Joseph’s shot off the line then, shortly after, Scott Harris turned his marker, drew Capleton off his line but shot wide of the far post.
A long ball down field by Mustafa was collected by Gordon but a good challenge by Billy Jeffreys cleared the danger but, just when it looked like the points would be shared, Canvey scored the winner. An Ashford move, in the 84th minute, broke down in midfield allowing Gabriel Fanibuyan to break through two weak tackles to set up Gordon. Gordon drew Ross off his line before sliding the ball square to his left to the unmarked Dobinson who had the simplest of tasks, tapping into the unguarded Ashford net.
So, Ashford’s young side yet again undone by a late goal, but with other results going for them, one win should see them retain their step 3 status for next season, hopefully that will come on Monday when the men from Short Lane entertain our friends and neighbours Staines Town who clinched second place on Friday and congratulations go to them for that, but one asks the question of the Ryman League officials “why were they allowed to play on a Friday? Giving them an extra days recovery time”.