A blistering second half performance from the Tangerines saw them scoring five goals away for the second week running, this time at South Park FC.
South Park are at the foot of the table but are under comparatively new management and in the early stages of the match forced Ashford keeper Tyler Tobin into two high class saves. Referee Scott, well remembered in Ashford circles for his controversial sending-off of Mitchal Gough at Cove three years ago, almost seemed to be on a one man mission to blow his whistle as frequently as he possibly could during a fragmented first half, that saw the home side take the lead on 29 minutes. The match was far from dirty but there seemed to be little understanding of the conditions that gradually became worse with driving rain and a strong wind throughout. South Park seemed to cope better than Ashford at times and it could not be said to be undeserved when they took the lead on 29 minutes.
Shortly afterwards Mr. Scott awarded a penalty against Ashford which would have given the home side a two goal cushion but it was missed and from that moment Ashford rarely looked back. In stoppage time in the first period yet another free kick saw Mark Bitmead send the ball high into the net, aided it must be said by a distinct deflection leaving the teams to turn round level.
In the fifth minute of the re-start though, Ashford took the lead, once again thanks to a free kick from Bitmead that eluded everyone and went in at the far post. The win was just about sealed seven minutes later when James Cottee celebrated his return to the side with a crisp strike from the edge of the area to make the score 3-1 to the visitors.
Home side heads certainly did not go down but Ashford were now firmly in the driving seat and it became 4-1, from the spot when Bitmead completed his hattrick after Nebay Haile had been fouled. The icing on the cake came five minutes from the end of normal time when Haile who without doubt enjoyed his best performance since joining in the Summer, went on another run and finished with aplomb.
The home side though still maintained their momentum and some sloppy defending by Ashford saw them notch a second goal some three minutes from time, to make the final score 5-2 to Ashford. The fact that the match went ahead was a testament to the South Park pitch, which played well despite the rain and had obviously been the subject of much hard work beforehand.
After two weeks and ten goals on the road, Ashford now have two home matches to look forward to in the next seven days. On Tuesday Chipstead are the visitors to Short Lane in the 1st Round of the Surrey Senior Cup, with the winners drawn at home to Tooting & Mitcham United. Chipstead have been a much improved side in terms of results since Ashford won there in the opening weeks of the season and it is likely to be a close encounter.
Then, on Saturday, Chalfont St. Peter come to Short Lane, when we may well renew acquaintance with Dan Fleming who left us in the middle of last season to join Hanwell Town before moving on to Chalfont. Dan scored a lot of goals for the Tangerines and should receive a warm welcome for everything he did for the Tangerines, scoring no less than 95 goals in our colours. Since scoring eight goals against Chalfont in March 2001, we have failed to beat them in ten successive matches since, all in the Southern League, which is not a great omen but we will see!
The Ladies are away to Colne Valley Ladies tomorrow on Sunday and a belated well done to Alissa Down who also scored a hatrick in the 10-2 win over Margate Ladies on Thursday, with Ashley also scoring three and the writer’s “Lady of the Match” Lavana Neufville getting two.
The result over South Park sees Ashford tucked in in 6th place in the table, now just three points behind 2nd placed Bracknell Town.