Ashford Town (Middlesex)


Bognor Regis Town


Ryman League Premier Division,
Short Lane Stadium
13th February 2010

Ashford were held to a draw at Short Lane on Saturday by a spirited Bognor Regis Town and three penalty decisions that went against them.

Ashford, without top scorer Byron Harrison, introduced Femi Ilesanmi in at left back and he produced a very assured and polished performance. The home side started well with Warren Harris speeding down the right wing in the first minute but his cross was cleared, then Harris bounced a shot off Bognor keeper Anthony Ender’s chest.

Excellent defending by Bognor’s Micky Demetriou denied Brian Haule after he had been set up by Ashford skipper Paul Johnson then a good passage of play that involved half the Ashford team ended with shots from Harris, blocked, and Johnson deflected for a corner but, and not for the last time in this match, referee Mr Robinson got the decision wrong and signalled a goal kick.

After Jacob Walcott had volleyed over from a Bognor corner, Jason Prior managed to break through the Ashford defence to force a superb save from Paul Burgess and, shortly after, that man Prior again escaped his marker to make sure Burgess remained alert, the Ashford keeper blocked his first shot but Prior picked up the rebound to fire wildly over the bar.

Ashford took the lead in the 31st minute shortly after manager Jamie Lawrence had made a tactical change and moved Davis Haule up front to play alongside his brother Brian. The brothers understanding instantly paid dividends as Davis and Brian played a one-two and then, with Ender perhaps anticipating a cross, slipped the ball past him and into the net from an acute angle (pictured).

The Middlesex side survived a scare, two minutes later, when a Daniel Joyce free kick was deflected onto Burgess’ bar and over. Ashford’s lead lasted 7 minutes as Bognor caught out their hosts on the break. An astute ball from Vinnie O’Sullivan found Brian Haule but he was crowded out and the ball was cleared down field where it fell to Luke Nightingale to curl his shot around Burgess and in at the far post.

The second half started with two cautions, one for each side, Tim Bond for a foul on Davis Haule then Johnson for the use of an elbow as he contested an aerial ball.

Brian Haule was unlucky when good work by Femi Ilesanmi, Jamie England and Jermaine McGlashan, who squared the ball to the Ashford striker, gave him a chance but the ball bobbled as he shot and went over Ender’s bar.

Scott Harris replaced Brian Haule and his first touch very nearly regained the lead for the home team when a long throw from Russ Canderton was half cleared to Harris who executed an athletic overhead kick but the ball cannoned off the foot of the post.

Harris was involved, minutes later, in one of the more controversial incidents of the game as he tried to force his way past a defender who, quite clearly stuck out an arm and deflected the ball away but the only people in the ground that did not see it were referee Robinson and his assistant.

Ashford did regain the lead soon after. In the 77th minute another long throw from Canderton was backheaded across the six yard box by Davis Haule for Warren Harris to pop up and nod the ball past Ender.

Referee Robinson missed a second call for a penalty with four minutes left of normal time, again for hand ball but, unfortunately for Ashford, he did not miss the foul on Walcott and, two minutes into time added on, awarded Bognor the penalty that Nightingale dispatched to give his side a share of the points.

It’s easy to put the blame on the officials but, in this case, the referee had a poor match and was not helped by one of his assistants who waited to see Mr Robinson’s decisions before using his flag for pretty much all of the match. To add insult to injury, the officials hailed from near Swindon and it does not help clubs finances at all when three quarters of the gate money is paid to the officials for their expenses, were there no referees available that lived nearer?

Rant over!!