Ryman League Premier Division,
A Byron Harrison goal, his 6th in 5 games, in the 32nd minute was enough to sustain Ashford’s 100% record for the current campaign. Again they met opposition that were perfectly willing and adept at playing neat football but without a cutting edge, indeed custodian Paul Burgess was hardly troubled for the duration of the match. This was the first time that the 2 teams had met in any competition and, as such, Canvey travelled to Ashford as a somewhat unknown quantity.
With Warren Harris on holiday, Mark Butler elected to play Brett Cooper in the wide position and the utility man certainly did not let himself or his team mates down, enjoying a solid display.
The first chance of the match fell to Canvey when Chris Moore headed over from Leon Gordon’s corner, then Ashford had a similar chance when Paul Johnson’s shot was saved at the far post from Ricky Wellard’s corner. Moore then gave away a free kick in the danger zone, 20 yards outside his own penalty area, which Johnson looked to exploit with a swerving ball into Billy Jeffreys but the tall central defender headed over Ricky Wiseman’s bar. A similar fate befell a Johnson shot from a Wellard corner before a mazy run and cross by Gordon was met by Tarkan Mustafa who shot over Paul Burgess’ Bar.
A good move midway through the half involving Johnson, Ricardo Joseph and Harrison gave Johnson another opening but he saw his rising shot clear the Canvey bar from 25 yards.
The Middlesex side took the lead in the 32nd minute when Byron Harrison timed his run to perfection to beat the Canvey off-side trap. Running on to a long throw from Adam Logie he gave Wiseman no chance, smashing the ball past the keeper from just inside the penalty box.
A teasing free kick from David Lee curled dangerously into Ashford’s penalty area but Jeffreys narrowly beat John Curran to the ball to head clear then, good work from Wellard sending a measured pass left to Johnson gave the host’s skipper the chance to feed the over-lapping Joseph who produced an excellent cross that beat Wiseman but Harris couldn’t quite reach the ball.
The dangerous Gordon wriggled through and looked to cross but Joseph caught him and relieved him of the ball to start another Ashford attack which culminated in Wiseman bravely holding a high ball under intense pressure from Harris then, shortly after, Harris had the chance to shoot but unselfishly elected to square the ball which was cleared.
Late in the game Jeffreys was in the right place to cut out a dangerous cross from Ian Luck before Canvey had the ball cleared of the Ashford goal-line by Johnson following a bout of head tennis.
Ashford had the ball in the Canvey net for the second time on 86 minutes but substitute Gavin Smith’s effort was ruled out for off-side then, 4 minutes later, a header by Curran was disallowed for the same offence.
With Horsham losing, Ashford can claim the only 100% success record at this level in the country and after the game Mark Butler said that he was justifiably proud of his troops who are working hard for each other but, with his feet planted firmly on the ground, added that there was a long way to go. Asked about the match he commented that the boys had had to dig in, particularly in the second half, but they defended well. Mark also opined that Ashford had enough chances to kill the game..