Palmer’s late strike settles dour game
Ryman League Premier Division,
Mark Butler made two changes from the side that prevailed in the local derby on Monday, Ricky Wellard and Scott Harris, highly industrious in that match, were given a rest though named as substitutes, their places being filled by Adam Logie and Jon Palmer respectively as Mark shuffled his squad in a bid to find his form players ahead of the last two league matches of the season and the Surrey Senior Cup Final on Tuesday week, the adversaries in which as yet are unknown.
A single goal scored deep in injury time was enough to secure all three points in a match in which nothing was hinged. Both sides had difficulty in finding any motivation but Maidstone started the stronger with shots from Lloyd Blackman and Tom Parkinson drifting wide.
Ashford finally started getting into the game and good work by Vinnie O’Sullivan gave Byron Harrison the chance to square to Gavin Smith but Smith scuffed his shot straight to Andy Walker in the ‘Stones goal.
Jon Palmer had the ball in the back of the ‘Stones net on 20 minutes after picking up the loose ball after Harrison had beaten Walker in the air, but referee Mr. Saliy ruled out the ‘goal’ wrongly claiming that Harrison had jumped at the keeper, difficult to do with your back turned.
Craig Ross kept the scores level by executing a full length dive to tip a well rifled shot from Jay Saunders round his right hand post then, shortly after, Saunders chased and rescued a ball that looked, to all intense and purposes, to be going out for a goal kick and cut it back to Ant Bodle whose shot was deflected wide.
A free kick for a foul on Anthony Joseph was taken by the same player but was curled just wide of Walker’s far post then Gavin Smith played the ball into Harrison who cleverly held the ball up before slipping it into the path of Joseph whose shot was deflected for a corner. Warren Harris’ deep corner kick was headed just over by Michael Peacock.
The home side spurned two chances to test Walker early in the second half, both times Warren Harris cut inside from the right, both times he saw the whites of the keeper’s eyes but squared the ball and both times the ball was cleared.
Blackman, given his pedigree, will be disappointed with himself for heading a good free kick from James Peacock high over the Ashford bar before Ricky Wellard, a 50 minute substitute for Anthony Joseph, fed Luke Pigden but he shot wide.
Maidstone went close soon after when Bodle turned and crossed from the right but Roland Edge just failed to make contact.
Ashford ended their home campaign as they started, with a win, and the decisive goal came in the last minute of time added scored by a player that had run himself into the ground. Wellard worked the ball out to Ricardo Joseph on the left and his low teasing cross could only be touched out to Palmer by Walker, Palmer gleefully accepted the chance and rammed the ball into the ‘Stones net for his 3rd goal of the season.