Ashford Town (Middlesex)




Hendon FC

Ryman League Premier Division,
Short Lane Stadium
25th August 2009

At the end of this game between two honest and evenly-matched teams, Ashford Town would have lamented their failiure to make the most of a dominant performance, whilst also feeling relief that the game was not lost.  There was once a time when Peter Dean’s 70th minute goal for the visitors might have proved decisive, but Mark Butler’s side have a new resilience that helped them to equalise thanks to Billy Jeffreys’ cool finish.

The tone for this end to end contest was set by the visitors in the opening seconds, when Peter Dean’s cross was met by the head of strike partner Harry Hunt, whose header was well saved by Craig Ross.  The Tangerines’ first opportunity at the other end came from a fine passing move in the 8th minute, with the final pass just eluding Scott Harris, who also forced a good save from Hendon stopper James Reading in the 16th minute.

Byron Harrison sent a shot across goal in the 22nd minute, with Warren Harris narrowly failing to divert into the Greens’ net.  However, the visitors hit Ashford on the break immediately, with Dean firing over and then forcing Ross into a save with his feet.

On the half hour, Warren Harris had a shot cleared off the line by James Bent and Reading was the busier keeper in the final minutes of the first half.

Paul Johnson in action against KingstonianAlthough Dean again went close to scoring, in the 52nd minute, generally the Tangerines were in the ascendancy, with home skipper and former Hendon midfielder Paul Johnson causing all sorts of problems with his passing and crosses.  Billy Jeffreys had a shot deflected over Reading’s bar, while Scott Harris also headed wide while under pressure twice.

It was from the second of these chances that Hendon took the lead, hitting the Tangerines with a rapid counter-attack, that quickly saw Wayne O’Sullivan fire in a cross.  Peter Dean’s initial shot was saved by Ross, but the Dons striker met the rebound with his head and managed to score.

Ashford’s response was composed, as they continued to push forward with purpose.  Warren Harris fired wide from the edge of the penalty area, while Johnson had a shot well stopped by Reading.  His subsequent corner was then met by Billy Jeffreys at the near post, with the defender clinically side-footing the ball home.

The home side looked for a winning goal, with Warren Harris and Hone Fowler having shots parried by the Dons’ stopper.  In stoppage time, there was a brief moment of controversy when Ashford appealed loudly for a penalty when visiting defender Craig Vargas handled the ball, only for the assistant referee to rule that Ashford’s Malachi Bulley was the guilty party.  It was the only contentious decision from the three match officials, who were excellent throughout, and such an end would not have been a fitting conclusion to what was an excellent game.    

Photo by Chris Hatton