Stones roll on as Ashford grind to a half
Ryman League Premier Division,
|Ravaged by injury and unavailability, Ashford put in a good performance against play-off chasing Wealdstone but returned home with nothing to show for their efforts, thanks to a superb strike from home midfielder Mark E’beyer and their own inability to put the ball in the net.
With Brian Haule on the bench due to his work commitments, elder brother Davis was pressed into action up front, while Youth Team striker Lewis Wombwell was on the bench – a reward for scoring a hat-trick at Hayes & Yeading in an Under-18 game the previous evening. The Ash Trees were only able to name four substitutes, one of whom was player-manager Jamie Lawrence who was himself recovering from an injury.
The Stones forced a couple of corners in the opening minutes, but the visitors dealt with these stoutly and enjoyed an opening of their own when Jermaine McGlashan was cynically brought down from behind by Locke. Given the red cards handed to Ashford at Hendon three days previously, it was perhaps no wonder that many of the visiting contingent were aggrieved that the home defender was merely cautioned. Ashford failed to do much with that set-piece, but Scott Weight did head over the bar shortly afterwards.
Despite playing up the hill and into the wind, the home side created several half chances but were kept out by the resolute Ashford back-line. In the 17th minute, Scott Weight headed over from a Paul Johnson corner in what turned out to be the Tangerines best effort of the evening.
Just after the half-hour, defender Femi Ilesanmi was forced out of the game after a crude challenge left him with an ankle injury. Brian Haule replaced him, with Alain Behi proving to be a very effective central defender, with Brett Cooper moving to Ilesanmi’s role at left-back.
Ashford were marginally the better side once they had got used to their new shape, but created only half chances that were well-defended.
The home team had the conditions in their favour after the break, but in the opening minutes it was Ashford who enjoyed the better of the match, with Paul Johnson and McGlashan both going close, with McGlashan unlucky not to be awarded a free kick when he was unceremoniously shoved over while advancing on goal.
In the 58th minute, Wealdstone should have taken the lead when Locke headed over while unmarked. However, a couple of minutes later they did open the scoring when Mark E’beyer hit a thirty-five yard strike that caught the wind and flew into the back of the net.
Two minutes later, Jones Awuah headed wide from a Paul Johnson free-kick. Wealdstone had chances to add to their lead, but Ashford might have scored themselves, with Awuah causing plenty of problems for the home back four. However, the sad truth is that the majority of the visitors’ opportunities were half-chances, dealt with well by the Stones, who closed out the win to keep themselves in the race for the top five and Ashford perilously close to a first-ever relegation.