Ashford duly travelled to AFC Rushden & Diamonds on Saturday for their third match in five days and gave a creditable account of themselves against their already promoted rivals, losing by a solitary goal on 27 minutes, from the penalty spot when Mitchal Gough was adjudged to have fouled his immediate opponent. Ben Farrell obliged from the spot.
At the start of the game it looked as if tiredness had set in early for the visitors as they found themselves facing a wave of early pressure from the Diamonds but a goal never really came close to materialising as Ashford seemed to find new legs, defending competently against a strike force with obvious quality. Mitchal Gough was at the centre of things.
At the other end, Ashford rarely looked dangerous in the first half and it would have been fair to say that the home side deserved their first half lead. The second half was different though and the Tangerines enjoyed at least as much possession as their opponents, occasionally putting them under severe pressure. Once again though nobody was able to apply the finishing touch to some very promising moves. The same could be said for the home side, possibly playing within themselves and buoyed on by a crowd of 900+, the biggest gate in Step 4 on the day.
The match ended bizarrely with Ashford winning a corner and everyone including keeper Tobin came up for it. As tends to happen it was cleared away and with goalkeeper and fellow defenders all stranded up field, a second goal looked on the cards, until that is, Tobin, busting a gut to get back went overboard with an attempted tackle and, almost inevitably found himself the recipient of a red card. The final whistle went about 10 seconds later.
The referee cannot be criticised over the decision as such but in days gone by when things were done with more common sense than referees are allowed to use these days, he might have satisfied himself with a yellow.
Rushden were presented with their League Runners-Up Trophy after the match and we congratulate them upon an excellent season. They now seem likely to go into the new Central Step 3 Division and seemed destined for greater things.
In these last few trying days, the one point is scant reward for the way we have played at times but a big thank you to our players who got on with it and they have done the club proud. Thank you also to those of our supporters, some of whom attended all three matches, two of which were our longest of the season.
We now await the decision as to where we will be placed, which we should find out in a week or so. In the meantime we are hosting a number of Surrey finals and a big thank you goes to everyone who has been helping out. The club AGM takes place at the ground on Thursday 10 May starting at 8.00 p.m. when everyone with an interest in the club is welcome to attend. Two days later, we have our annual Presentation Evening which will also be at the Club. It’s just £10 to attend and will hopefully be a great night as we start to plan for next season, with less travelling and a whole host of different opponents from this season.