Sat 9 Feb 19: Hertford Town 0 Ashford 1
Ashford secured their second away win in succession on Saturday with a 1-0 win at Hertford Town, a ground they had not visited for 18 years.
There was an interesting build-up to the game with the home side having suffered the sudden resignation of their manager seven days earlier and with it, the departure of many of their team. All credit goes to the new manager, who had signed an astonishing number of new players in time for this game, leaving Ashford not knowing what to expect.
In the end it was a fairly standard kind of match as both sides battled with the strong gusty wind that prevailed throughout. There wasn’t too much of note to record in the first half and certainly no goals in a match where defences were very much on top. Manager Ben Murray had kept faith with Joe Green, who had not enjoyed his best night the previous Tuesday against Molesey, and Joe bounced back well with a solid display at left back rather than on the right. Joint central defenders Adam Baigent and the returning Elliott Poley were a major obstacle to Hertford’s hopes, gobbling up anything that Hertford could throw at them. Equally Ashford were unable to make much headway up front.
The second half saw Ashford having more of the play. They didn’t dominate by any means but looked that little bit more likely to break the deadlock then their opponents. So it proved on 71 minutes when Mark Bitmead hit a free kick from distance which the home keeper could only push out straight back into the danger area where the alert James Cottee carefully steered the ball into the net with some precision to put the Tangerines ahead.
Hertford’s enthusiasm could not be faulted but when they did threaten, their shooting was generally wayward and although they sent in some dangerous corner kicks, Baigent or one of the other defenders was invariably on hand to deal with them.
Referee Marin, whose previous match involving Ashford was back in 2011, at Soham Park Rangers, seemed to be at odds with his assistants on occasions and without rubbing it in, there were one or two decisions for both sides that were clearly wrong, in terms of throw ins, corner kicks etc. It hadn’t really mattered but In the final minute of stoppage time this element took a more serious side when Nebay Haile, Ashford’s very lively substitute, on for Jack Beadle, who had sustained a knock, seemed to be blatantly knocked over as he cleared his lines only to find Mr. Marin giving a free kick against him on the edge of the penalty area, despite a flag in Ashford’s favour. Fortunately, the free kick came to nothing and the final whistle went and it was a hard earned three points against a team whose supporters seemed to grow significantly at half-time and who gave their side great support.
Ashford’s travelling committee were very warmly welcomed by the Hertford officials and we wish them well in the remainder of the season. Hopefully it will not be another 18 years before we return.
There is no midweek match so the next game is on Saturday, when we welcome Chipstead to Short Lane for their second visit of the season, following their win in the Surrey Senior Cup. Given that we won at their ground earlier in the season by the same scoreline of 4-1, it is impossible to predict but it should be an interesting match. More on it later in the week!
Well done to the Ladies who despatched Leyton Orient Development 9-2 on Sunday, to reach another semi-final in which it is understood that we will be playing away to Abbey Rangers Ladies.