Carshalton Athletic 1
Ashford Town (Middlesex) 0

Ryman League Premier Division,
Colson Avenue, Carshalton
23rd September 2008

Following Saturday’s indifferent display at home to Margate, manager Mark Butler rang the changes for this encounter, leaving Byron Harrison, Warren Harris and Ricky Wellard all on the bench.  In came Russell Canderton at the back, to partner Billy Jeffreys, allowing Adam Logie to move back into midfield, along with Wes Goggin whilst up front and playing against his old club, Scott Todd made his first start of the season.

Carshalton have been in a rich vein of form recently and manager Hayden Bird has clearly done an excellent job with his team.  As to be expected the home team started confidently putting Ashford on the back foot.

There was a determination running through the visitors though and following the home team’s early bluster, the match settled down and became an enthralling spectacle with both teams concentrating upon attack.

A goal seemed inevitable and it duly arrived in the 21st minute, scored by Carshalton’s currently hot striker Richard Jolly who made no mistake from close in when Ashford failed to deal with a Carshalton move down the right flank.

Ashford were undeterred and a cynical trip on Scott Harris ended with nothing more than a free kick, the offender receiving just a telling off, one of many decisions that infuriated the visitors over the course of the match.

Further goals failed to materialise in the first half but Ashford were fast out of the blocks in the second period and a quality move involving Ricardo Joseph and Scott Todd saw the ball reaching Wes Goggin who was clearly held down as he went to head home, only for Mr. Lymer to refuse the penalty appeal.

Adam Logie then broke through to crash a shot narrowly over the bar but this was followed by several minutes of farce as the supply of footballs ran out!  With no ball boys to be seen and little apparent effort to retrieve the situation, although doubtless there was panic behind the scenes, the match was starting to look in danger of abandonment until after a delay approaching double figures in terms of minutes, a Carshalton sub emerged like Father Christmas with an armful of new balls and the situation was saved in the nick of time.

The match resumed albeit with a loss of impetus and both teams had their chances.  Once again Mr. Lymer angered the small Ashford contingent by refusing another strong penalty appeal, this time on the grounds of hand ball.  He seemed by now to have abandoned the “laissez-faire” approach of the first half as players’ names entered his notebook with a depressing rapidity.

Warren Harris came on and made an significant impact as Ashford continued to go close but gaps were appearing and twice Ashford could count themselves fortunate that the eager Carshalton frontrunners did not increase their lead.

The match ended with just over seven minutes of stoppage time played.  With seven cautions, six substitutions, the long delay while new balls were found plus a selection of other stoppages for injuries, Ashford felt that at least double that amount of time was merited but somehow one knew that it wasn’t going to happen.

A home supporter summed the match up fairly succinctly on the Carshalton message board: 

A great three points against a very good, tall side (what do they feed them on out there in Ashford?).  On possession I reckon they shaded it and had us under pressure for twenty five minutes each side of half time but we started and finished strongly, and had the better chances to score. God only knows what mad dog bit the ref at half time.”

In the cold light of day, another league defeat following the superb start to the season, is frustrating but Ashford can take heart that they put the Margate performance well and truly behind them as they came close to upsetting a very good team in Carshalton and will travel to Arlesey in confident enough mood on Saturday in the FA Cup.