Zamaretto League Central Division
To start with I must state that this report is the writer’s view and not necessarily that of Ashford Town FC.
The reason I give for the above statement is that I feel I must comment on the extraordinary inept display of the match officials in charge of this game. Some of the decisions reached by the referee were, at the least, farcical and I was left wondering whether he had officiated in a match before. In fact at times he provided more entertainment than the players.
That said, this was a game where, after a scrappy first half, the game suddenly ignited with five goals coming in the space of fifteen minutes, Ashford sprinted into a three goal lead only for United to haul themselves back into the game with two of their own.
This was the third meeting of the Middlesex rivals this season with Ashford winning 6 – 2 in the FA Trophy in October only for United to exact some revenge by defeating their opponents in the first league encounter at Greenford just last month, scoring two goals without reply.
Ashford started the brighter with Tom Kanek, Isiah Rankin and Jordan Kiffin looking lively as well as young Rob Curtis pushing up from right back.
Early chances fell to Rankin and Kanek and, with Christian Nanetti showing some very nifty footwork on the left, the home side pushed their visitors back deep into their own half.
A good early through ball was played into the feet of Rankin on 18 minutes, Rankin turned and attempted to g o round his marker Chris Meddes but the United skipper, seeing he was the last line of defence, cynically pulled Rankin to the ground. Referee Furneaux, instead of brandishing the red card, thought it enough to simply wave his finger at the central defender and award a free kick.
Shortly after, Sean Hillier tested Ashford keeper Paul McCarthy with a powerful drive then Michael Murray fired a free kick into the Ashford defensive wall with the follow up shot going out for a goal kick.
As the home team kept the pressure on, Jamie Lawrence curled a free kick, awarded for hand ball, just wide then Nanetti was sent tumbling by Jamie Diston as he embarked on another mazy run, an act that earned him a caution then, with five minutes of the half left, Nanetti found Akwasi Edusei on the over-lap, the Ashford left back cut inside only to see his driven cross deflected off a defender for a corner.
Meddes gave another free kick away two minutes later when he felled Jamie Lawrence and from the ensuing free kick Billy Jeffreys was wrestled to the ground in the penalty area right under the noses of the referee and assistant, but, yet again, weak refereeing allowed the perpetrator to get away with it without any punishment. Shortly after, Lawrence was forced off with a knock to be replaced by Oscar Lubwama who went to right back with Curtis moving into the centre midfield berth vacated by Lawrence.
The half ended with Kanek playing Curtis in with a well measured pass and his shot had to be desperately clawed back by Babucarr Jallow in the United goal.
Two minutes into the second half McCarthy, largely untroubled in the first half, found he suddenly had work to do when he saved well from the head of Garry Senior from a Murray free kick then Jallow found himself isolated out of his goal as Rankin challenged and his weak clearance was picked up by Awuah but Meddes had got back into position to head Awuah’s shot away.
Ashford finally broke the deadlock in the 56th minute when Rankin challenged Jallow for a ball played into the penalty area and managed to roll the ball goalwards where Awuah got the final touch, the goal was allowed despite prolonged United protests that the Ashford striker was off-side.
Three minutes later Nanetti linked with Edusei on the Ashford left, Edusei’s cross was fumbled by Jallow and Kanek was on hand to fire into the top of the net to double his side’s lead then, in the 62nd minute, the home team went further ahead when Awuah accepted Kiffin’s cross after it had eluded Jallow.
The mini goal-fest continued at the other end when, two minutes later, Ricky Pither pulled one back for the visitors, forcing the ball past McCarthy at the third attempt foiling the Ashford keeper’s heroic attempts to keep it out.
Nanetti’s dancing feet brought him into range for a shooting chance and he duly obliged but saw his curling effort sail just wide of Jallows left hand post with the keeper beaten before Awuah thought he had scored another hattrick but this time the ‘goal’ was ruled out for off-side.
Murray ensured a nervous last 20 minutes for the hosts when he found the back of the net from a direct free kick to reduce the deficit to a solitary goal.
Awuah could have completed his hattrick when a burst of acceleration took Rankin past Ryan Fenton on the Ashford right but Awuah inexplicably jumped over Rankin’s cross possibly thinking that one of his team mates was behind him in a more favourable position.
Last word came from the referee who compounded an afternoon littered with errors when, facing the opposite direction, he heard Hillier, laying on the ground, cry out and so cautioned Rankin who was innocent of any wrong doing.