Middlesex Senior Cup, Second Round,
Ashford mustered up a total of seven supporters for last night’s match, four of whom were committee men, but they were rewarded with another win, which sees Ashford into the quarter-finals of the Middlesex Senior Cup and an away tie against either Bedfont or Staines Town, whose match was abandoned last night in the first half with the score 0-0.
The first drama came before the game when, for whatever reason, assistant referee Steve Hart failed to show and could not be contacted. By the time a replacement was sourced, the match kicked off 15 minutes late.
Ashford fielded a predominantly 1st team squad although Warren Harris, Vinnie O’Sullivan and big Byron all had a rest on the bench. Ricky Wellard was also absent, receiving treatment back at Short Lane but, hopefully, his injury is less serious than it first looked and he may well be back in contention for Saturday.
Hanwell named just two subs, which suggested they were maybe a little short on personnel but they included ex-Ashford player Blaize O’Brien within their ranks and a quick look at the match programme made it clear that he had lost none of his sharpness in front of goal, with over 20 to his name already for the season.
Hanwell were full of endeavour from the start but Ashford had a little more quality and it showed at times, with Paul Johnson engineering a number of neat moves. It was not all one-way traffic by any means but Ashford always looked the more likely team to score and they did so on the half hour mark with an impressive strike from SCOTT HARRIS, who took full advantage of a flick on from Guy Hollis from Scott Todd’s corner.
Three minutes later, it was HARRISagain. He had already hit the post and looked on fire and this was arguably his best goal so far. It came from a long ball delicately touched on by Gavin Smith for Harris to send an unstoppable volley into the net.
The seven supporters were in good heart at half time but Ashford’s current tendency to let teams back into a match surfaced again minutes into the second period. A wild clearance from Billy Jeffreys saw Hanwell take a quick throw in, which caught out Brett Cooper and before you knew it, the ball had been crossed leaving O’BRIEN with a clear chance, gratefully accepted,
Hanwell then enjoyed their best period of the game and only an amazing miss from O’Brien, followed by a breath taking stop from Craig Ross, kept Ashford in front. The visitors steadied though and on 66 minutes the two goal cushion was restored. Paul Johnson was heavily involved in a threatening move into the penalty area and he released it beautifully for the advancing ADAM LOGIE to smash into the net.
The Ashford seven settled down to enjoy the rest of the game and hopefully another goal or two but referee Furneaux, who had earlier turned down a very strong penalty appeal when Smith had his legs whipped under him, made himself even less popular when he decided that a tackle from Jeffreys was unfair, despite the fact that he won the ball clean as a whistle. Hanwell sent in a dangerous free kick and KIDMAN was on hand to reduce the deficit once again.
However, with the pitch looking heavier by the minute and with both teams tiring, there were no further goals and Ashford saw out the closing minutes reasonably comfortably. There was one final act of drama though, when Harris spoilt his evening. Having been cautioned earlier, he heard the whistle and thinking it was the end of the match he hoofed the ball away only to find the referee was actually blowing for a free kick to Hanwell. Exit Harris, sent off for two yellow cards. Ten seconds later the referee did blow for full time!
Matches against Step 5 teams in cup competitions are rarely easy and Ashford have only to look back and remember how they almost always used to raise their game against Ryman teams when they were still in the Combined Counties, often with some success. This, therefore, was a good enough win, against opponents who were certainly committed and no bad team with only four league defeats beforehand.