a. Ashford make progress in FA Trophy. Hitchcock & King “Man of the Match” is James Cottee
b. Next match Tuesday 2 Oct, H. Chessington & Hook (S. Comb Cup)
c. Ladies Maintain 100% Record
d. Ashford away to Hayes & Yeading on Saturday
e. Southall at home on Friday 12 October in FA Vase

A rejuvenated Ashford won their FA Trophy tie on Saturday against Heybridge Swifts, the Step 4 club who went further than any other in last season’s competition. The final scoreline was 4-2 in favour of the Tangerines which was more than satisfactory overall but at one time it looked as if it might well be more, with Ashford leading 4-0 after an hour.

Starting at the beginning, the match was just seven minutes old when Max Webb, in good goal scoring form this year, put Ashford ahead. It was a decent effort but there was a touch of good fortune as it took a deflection to give visiting keeper Danny Sambridge no chance.

The match remained even but there was a determined look about the Tangerines and as they gradually exerted more pressure a second goal arrived on 37 minutes when a through ball from James Cottee, later voted “the Hitchcock & King Ashford player of the Match” found Mark Bitmead, who finished with aplomb.

Cottee was winning a lot of balls in the air and just five minutes later it was three as he found himself free at the far post to strike home from close range.

At three down the visitors had a huge hurdle to climb in the second half and it got no better for them when, more or less on the hour mark, Bitmead was fouled in the area and got up to crash the ball home from the spot, giving Ashford a seemingly unassailable lead. Despite the scoreline though, Heybridge had never looked out of the game and Brannon Daly in goal had to be smart on more than one occasion to keep the the ball out.

Indeed, no Heybridge heads went down and they pulled one back within minutes of Ashford’s fourth. The scorer was Matthew Price, from close range. Within two minutes they scored again, this time from a free kick, taken by Alieu Njie just outside the area and suddenly it was game on with almost half an hour left.

The visitors were buoyed and for a while it was all hands to the pump at the back for Ashford but the back four steadied and with Heybridge failing to make a further break through, which really would have put the cat amongst the pigeons, the Tangerines looked reasonably comfortable in the closing minutes as the win was sealed.

All in all it was a good team performance’ illustrated by the fact that no less than eight of the players received votes for the “man of the match award” and manager Murray was certainly pleased with his squad. It was a good day to win with the official Bostik League photographer and website manager present resulting in a very complimentary and long report on the Bostik League website.

The reward for the victory is another home draw, this time against newly promoted Westfield, who seem to have found their feet now at Step 4 after a shaky start. Without doubt, it will be a tough match but aren’t they all and following their early exit from the FA Cup, Ashford will certainly be hoping to put a run together.

There are other games before then though, starting on Tuesday evening (tomorrow), with a home game against Chessington & Hook United in the 1st Round of the Southern Combination Cup, a competition that we have not entered for a few years but with fewer league matches, we have gone back in this time round. The winners tomorrow evening will be away to Camberley Town.

If the scores are level after 90 minutes, it goes straight to penalties with no extra time.

The next league match sees us making the short trip on Saturday to play Hayes & Yeading, very much the pre-season favourites. We actually did the double over them last year but they have already gained a measure of revenge, having knocked us out of the Velocity Trophy (League Cup) here, earlier in the season. There will be more details on that game later in the week.

Despite missing a number of regulars, Ashford Ladies pulled off another resounding victory on Sunday, winning 7-1 away to Regents Park Ladies. That win keeps them firmly at the top of the Greater London Women’s League Premier Division but there is a different challenge coming up this Sunday when they entertain Kent Football United Ladies in the Women’s FA Cup. A win will see the ladies in the 1st Round Proper for the second season in a row, where some big clubs will be waiting if we get through. Kick-off is 2.00 p.m. so why not make it a football weekend and come along to support the girls who have been on top of their game all season.

Our partners Southall enjoyed another fine league win on Saturday, winning 4-1 at Redhill. They are at home to Cobham on Saturday if you can’t get to Hayes & Yeading whilst on Friday 12 October, they will be playing here at Short Lane against Sheerwater in the 1st Round Proper of the Buildbase FA Vase, kick-off 7.45 p.m.