Ryman League Premier Division,
Ashford got their season under way by inflicting a comprehensive opening day defeat on newly promoted Kingstonian. It took a while for the Middlesex side to settle, in which time Bobby Traynor hit the side netting from Steve Tyson’s cross and Ashford old boy Ryan Lake fired a free kick over Craig Ross’ bar.
Billy Jeffreys had a headed chance, for the hosts, from a Paul Johnson free kick but did not get enough contact on the ball to direct it goal-wards then, shortly after, referee Mr Field bizarrely cautioned Brett Cooper for handball, a farcical decision as the Ashford wingback was less than a metre away from the kicker and had the ball driven straight at him.
As the half progressed Ashford came into the game more causing their visitors to defend with increasing desperation and to give away several free kicks in dangerous areas and it was from one of these that Ashford took the lead. Byron Harrison was unfairly bought down on the left, Warren Harris swung his deep free kick in to the far post where Scott Weight sent a looping header over K’s keeper Luke Garrard and just over the goal-line. Mr Field seemed reluctant to award the goal necessitating the intervention of his assistant who was perfectly placed.Lake sent another free-kick wide as Kingstonian, stung by being a goal down, surged forward looking for an equaliser, but it was Ashford that went close to claiming a second. A superb challenge by Russ Canderton set up Johnson who powered forward but his shot was narrowly wide.
Carl Wilson-Denis followed Cooper into the ref’s book for a heavy challenge on Ross, leaving the Ashford custodian prone on the turf then, in the 40th minute, Mr Field was at the centre of more controversy when Scott Harris was felled from behind in the K’s penalty area, Mr Field, who was in a perfect position to view the incident, saw nothing untoward with the challenge and play continued.
Kingstonian came out fired up after the break and were level within 3 minutes of the restart when Ricardo Joseph needlessly bought down Dean Lodge on the edge of the Ashford penalty area. Up stepped Lewis Cook to fire a superb free kick over the defensive wall and past a stationary Ross.
Shortly after, the game was held up while both physio’s attended to injuries to K’s Lake and Wayne Finnie following a clash of heads and after some 5 minutes of treatment both players were able to continue.
Half way through the half the Harris brothers combined to allow Warren to send a deep cross to the far post which eluded Garrard but Joseph was unable to profit for the Tangerines then, as Ashford seized the initiative once again, Harrison had two headed chances well saved from crosses by Cooper and Joseph before putting his side in front again with a fine individual goal.
A ball out of defence was helped on by Scott Harris to Harrison who twisted and turned in the penalty box to rid himself of his marker before drawing Garrard out and slotting the ball past him (pictured).
Kingstonian fought desperately to claw back the deficit and very nearly did in the 88th minute when Lodge’s low shot rebounded off the foot of Ross’ right hand post, but it was Ashford who made the game safe in the 4th minute of time added on. Joseph made another rampaging run down the left, Garrard managed to get a hand to Joseph’s shot but Scott Harris was on hand to slide the ball home at the far post to give the men from Short Lane the opening day three points.
Photo by Chris Hatton