Ashford Town (Middlesex)


after extra time.  Score at 90 mins: 3-3


Middlesex Senior Cup, Second Round,
Honeycroft, West Drayton
15th December 2009

Every manager has certain principles that mark them out and the early indications are that Jamie Lawrence intends his Ashford side to be an attack-oriented, passing side.  The football he and his players are producing is certainly easy on the eye, and the statistics speak for themselves: any team that scores twenty-one goals in just nine matches does not have an issue in front of goal.

However, you can have too much of a good thing.  Over-playing at the back exposed Ashford on numerous occasions, gifting Uxbridge at least two goals and, therefore, victory.  Ashford fielded a strong side, with former Wealdstone and Harrow Borough winger Nick Salapatas making his full debut, with veterans Paul Burgess and Jamie Lawrence also in the starting line-up. 

On a bitterly cold evening Ashford started well in front of a sparse crowd of just 59 and took a sixth minute lead when an incisive pass from Paul Johnson allowed Davis Haule to race through the defence and tuck the ball past home keeper Michael Watkins to score his first goal for Ashford.

The two sides largely cancelled each other out after that, until Johnson again created a chance for his team in the 20th minute.  This time, however, Scott Harris could only flick his header at Watkins.  Just after the half hour, Salapatas sprung the home side’s offside trap, before cutting inside and having a shot blocked when a pass or cross might have been a better option.  Shortly after this, Warren Harris left the field with an injury, to be replaced by Brian Haule.  Happily enough for the in-form winger, his withdrawal was largely precautionary.

As the first half drew to a close, the home side enjoyed a strong spell, with Sam Saydee missing two chances and also being denied by a goal line clearance by Brett Cooper, although Saydee made up for these misses by lashing home the equaliser from the edge of the box in the 40th minute.

Ashford regained the lead just moments later when a fast break set Scott Harris up with a shot at goal, which Watkins spilled, with the rebound being buried by Brian Haule.  The Tangerines might have made it three just before the interval, but Paul Johnson’s shot went over the crossbar.

The second half began as an even contest, but it was the Reds who scored the next goal in the 58th minute.  Striker Ryan O’Toole was allowed time and space on the ball and used the advantage to lash the ball into the top corner of Burgess’ net.

Shortly afterwards, Scott Harris had a shot blocked by a home defender, but referee Power inexplicably awarded a goal kick.  Ashford were passing the ball well, but became over-elaborate in their play in the 69th minute, allowing the home side to hit them on the break, with the result being that Saydee struck the post with a fierce shot.

Having failed to learn from this incident, the visitors went behind just seconds later after another sloppy pass from defence gifted O’Toole the ball in acres of space, with the striker helping himself to his second goal of the evening.

With sixteen minutes to go, Jamie Lawrence withdrew himself, making way for Scott Weight. 

As the game entered its final minutes, Johnson and Brian Haule both had chances, as did Dennison for Uxbridge but Ashford felt they were unfairly denied a strike at an empty net, after Watkins was bizarrely awarded a free kick for dropping a cross.  Davis Haule left the field to be replaced by Adam Logie as stoppage time began and with six minutes over the ninety on the watch, the visitors drew level.  Scott Harris had a shot blocked and the resultant corner was headed home by Brian Haule.

With the mercury plunging, Scott Harris was burning up the turf between himself and the goal early in extra time, only for his shot to be blocked and the home side to break themselves.  In the 94th minute Guy Hollis suffered an ankle injury that allowed Uxbridge to counter-attack.  Nothing came of that move, but Hollis was forced from the field for treatment and when he did return, he did so up front, as the Ash Trees had used all their substitutions.

It was after this injury that the home side regained the lead, when Adam Logie passed straight to Tom Howe, whose shot was drilled past Burgess to put his team 4-3 ahead.  Uxbridge should have scored a fifth right at the end of the first period of extra time, but Oliver Howells blazed over the roof of the stand when clean through.

Ashford continued to play positively, with Weight being denied three times by saves from Watkins at the beginning of the second period of extra time.  With 111 minutes on the watch, Ashford drew level at 4-4 after Scott Harris eluded his marker and headed home while unmarked.  However, the Ash Trees joy was short-lived as Uxbridge scored again from the restart, skipper Kevin Warner waltzing through the visiting defence to score the final goal of a remarkable cup-tie.  Ashford did have one final chance to force a penalty shoot-out, but Salapatas shot when a cross might have been the better option.