Middlesex Senior Cup Quarter Final,
Ashford regained the local bragging rights with this hard-fought, but ultimately deserved victory in the Middlesex Senior Cup Quarter Final. Both sides fielded their strongest available teams, although Ashford were missing injured skipper Paul Johnson and included Craig Ross in goal, with Paul Burgess on the bench. Ashford started brightly, backed as always by their small but vocal band of travelling supporters but the first real strike on goal was from Swans’ Mark Charles-Smith, whose seventh minute strike drifted harmlessly wide, while in the ninth minute, Ashford’s Byron Harrison was denied by some sterling defending as he bore down on goal.
In the seventeenth minute, a long Adam Logie throw found it’s way to Byron Harrison, whose header went over the bar. The “Massive” behind Craig Ross’ goal gave the lie to their club’s self-styled image as a “family” club by swearing repeatedly at the Ashford frontman. The hosts had more to cheer about in the 20th minute, when a point blank effort from Richard Butler was well stopped by Ross.
In the 27th minute, another well worked throw saw a first time shot from Byron Harrison run just wide as Ashford looked increasingly confident on an excellent pitch. However, Jake Newton’s cross almost gave the hosts an opening on the half-hour, although Charles-Smith’s header was never going to trouble Craig Ross.
Craig Ross needed to be alert in the 39th minute to keep out a 20-yard shot from Marc Charles-Smith, with the Tangerines defending the corner resolutely. Three minutes before the break, Scott Taylor was also denied by Ross – the young goalkeeper dealing well with the veteran striker in a one-on-one. Ashford immediately broke, with Scott Harris firing home a Jeffreys free-kick that was flicked on by Scott Weight.
Ashford might have immediately added a second, but failed to find the final pass with the Swans rocking. However, Mark Butler’s side ended the half strongly to go in for tea 1-0 ahead.
In the 48th minute, the pace of Warren Harris had the Swans stretched, but his cross was too deep for Ashford to take advantage. This was the start of a purple patch for the Tangerines, although home ‘keeper Louis Wells was not really tested during this spell.
Ashford were under pressure eight minutes into the second half, when the already-booked Billy Jeffreys conceded a free-kick on the edge of the area, although the set-piece was ineffective and the formal Millwall man escaped censure from the man in black, although Adam Logie was cautioned for a 57th minute foul. From the resultant free kick, Taylor headed over the bar while unmarked.
Staines did equalise in the 61st minute, when a series of ricochets inside the penalty area eventually fell to ex-Ashford striker Richard Butler, who bundled the ball home.
Ashford hit back immediately, winning a corner after Warren Harris was scythed down by Dave Sargent. That wasn’t punished by Referee McGann, but an equally crude challenge by Butler on Ricky Wellard did result in a caution for the Swans striker, Scott Harris testing Wells with a header from the subsequent free kick.
With sixty-nine minutes on the watch, Ashford regained the lead when Wells made a poor fist of punching away a cross and Ricky Wellard (pictured, right) drilled the ball into the empty net from 20 yards. Ashford had another good spell of possession after that, but the home side had the next sight of goal when Ross failed to claim a long ball and Andre Scarlett’s lob ran just over, while in the 82nd minute, Butler failed to take advantage of a mis-kick under pressure by Ross.
Swans made a double substitution in the 84th minute, replacing Taylor and Sargent with Fenton and McDonald and moments later a crude challenge saw Ashford’s Scott Weight go into Mr McGann’s notebook. Ashford made a change of their own in the 87th minute, replacing Scott Harris with Gavin Smith but Butler forced a good save from Ross with a header. That was the last real chance for the hosts, and Ashford might have had a third in the sixth minute of stoppage time when substitute Scott Todd beat Wells to the ball but couldn’t score. That saw the Tangerines through to a home semi-final.