Following three successive wins, Ashford found themselves on the wrong end of a 1-7 scoreline at Hayes & Yeading on Saturday.
The match hinged almost exclusively upon a refereeing decision a few minutes before half-time when the scoreline was at 0-0 and Ashford were playing well and very much in the game against a talented opposition.
Hayes were attacking and just inside the penalty area when Samad Kazi was adjudged to have fouled his opponent. The video of the incident shows that the Hayes player conveniently fell over Kazi’s outstretched leg but overall it wasn’t one that justified too much argument and the penalty was confidently struck home past Brannon Daly.
Then came the incident. Daly was clearly frustrated with the situation and with his head down, which is an important point, just kicked the ball back towards the centre circle. However, he did not lash it or deliberately aim it, as might have been imagined but unfortunately, it struck an opposition player who couldn’t seem to decide which part of his body to rub most, eventually settling for his head, even though the ball seemed to have struck him on the thigh certainly no higher.
Referee Green, who from the video, seemed to have his head turned away, at least to some extent, gave himself no thinking time and showed Daly a red card with absolutely lightning speed. He then saw an Ashford player being knocked to the ground which should surely have merited a similar punishment but he only gave a yellow. He wasn’t finished as he next sprinted over to Ashford manager Ben Murray, who did not seem to have over reacted and ordered him from the bench, leaving him to be unceremoniously escorted from the ground by a couple of Hayes stewards. It just seemed that the referee couldn’t wait to take the action he did and there had indeed been dark mutterings even before the game about a previous incident involving Ashford.
To Ashford’s supporters, it seemed a travesty with Daly’s “offence” meriting no more than a yellow card at least, if that, but what followed was not the referee’s fault. The Tangerines, now forced to put leading scorer Mark Bitmead in goal, with no replacement on the bench, fell to pieces, conceding another before the break and then a further four in the second period before the returning Tom Howard, finally brought on, pulled one back from outside the area. Hayes then had the last word making the final score 7-1.
It was obviously tough in that second half but it is worrying that Ashford in three matches now this season have conceded heavily in the second half of games and no matter what the adversity on Saturday should have done far better in at least containing the opposition.
We now have to deal with the aftermath and move on. One certain thing is that, just as they have done after every knockback this campaign, the team will look to bounce back with a vengeance in the next match.