Top hosted bottom in the Isthmian League South Central on Saturday, and it was a Tangerine Dream as Ashford upset the undefeated leaders to take all 3 points.
Ashford travelled to league leaders Hanwell Town looking to cause an upset and get back to winning ways after some difficult results since the away draw at Marlow. The Tangerines were boosted by the return of front man Dan Brown after an injury lay-off, without whom they have struggled to find the back of the net, and on a boggy pitch they certainly looked up for the challenge.
Hanwell Town, looking to keep their unbeaten run going, laid out their intentions from the kick-off. Looking to retain possession, and attack Ashford at every opportunity, but the conditions certainly made it harder going with the opening moments fairly even as both sides looked to find their feet amongst the soft pitch. Hanwell created a couple of half chances, as did Ashford with Dan Brown going closest in the 11th minute as he cut in from the left to shoot from distance, just wide of the near post. Three minutes later Hanwell went close to opening the score with a good move down the left and a centred ball creating the chance, but the shot was high and over the bar. From this Ashford countered and a superb through ball from Kelvin Adjei found Dan Brown running in behind the home defence to race through on goal and coolly slot underneath the advancing keeper to give the visitors a fifteenth minute lead. The rest of the first half saw Hanwell enjoy lots of possession and territorial advantage, only to create half chances and corners with Ashford defending well in numbers and looking to hit on the counter-attack if they could.
The second half started and continued in the much the same way. The home side enjoyed a good majority of the possession and territory with Ashford defending well, keeping their shape and numbers against the attacking play. Hanwell had a great chance on 66 minutes when a dangerous cross swung in just under the bar, but Sam Mason parried out and the follow up header went over for a goal kick. A few moments later Sam Mason was called in to action again when a deflected shot cam through from the edge of the box. Hanwell were getting close but just couldn’t find a way through the banks of the Ashford defence. On 79 minutes the Tangerines had a good opportunity when Darryl Harrison continued his run from defence and picked up the ball on the left of the box, cutting back inside his shot to the near post was saved well down low.
As time began to run out for Hanwell they continued to press on and keep the pressure on Ashford. In the 90th minute they came closest to drawing level from an in-swinging corner, rising well to connect with a good header that was somehow kept out on the line and then cleared. All the Ashford players were back to defend and keep their hosts at bay, keeping their shape and focus right through the five minutes of added time until the final whistle and the result they had dug in for.
Overall this was a superb and gutsy performance by Ashford against the league leaders, which will surely give them renewed confidence going forward.