Zamaretto League, Central Division
|A second half hattrick from in-form striker Jones Awuah gave Ashford all three points at Aylesbury on Saturday. Manager Jamie Lawrence made two changes to the side from the previous week, one forced, Russ Canderton coming in to the centre of defence in place of Guy Hollis who was suffering from a tendon strain and one tactical, Kane Louis sitting the game out on the bench, his place taken by Jamie Lawrence himself.
A scrappy first half was shaded, in terms of possession, by the hosts but, after a good early run down the right and cross by Oscar Lubwama, the Ashford defence was caught out by the pace of Aylesbury’s right winger Gareth Price who forced a low diving save out of Paul Burgess.
Three further chances went begging for the hosts in the first quarter of an hour, Burgess saving a low drive from Jonathan Douglas, Dean Brennan shooting wide and Kieran Schmidt firing over before Luke Hickie replied for the visitors, playing a free kick into the Aylesbury penalty area where the ball pinged around before finally being cleared.
The home side hit Ashford on the break, soon after, as a promising attack where Hickie forced a good save out of Steve Smith, broke down, Schmidt racing the length of the pitch before delivering a good cross to Douglas whose shot was saved at point blank range by Burgess.
Hickie and Jordan Kiffin combined to send Akwasi Edusei away down the left but his cross was headed over by Awuah then the ball was cleared off the Aylesbury goal line following a corner.
Edusei was in the thick of the action again soon after but was barged unceremoniously off the ball in front of the inept referee’s assistant who kept his flag down, Scott Weight showing his frustration and being cautioned for dissent by the equally maladroit referee.
Aylesbury had a great chance to take the lead just before half time but Marcus Gross put the ball just wide of Burgess’ right hand post from a cross by Price from the right.
Edusei was replaced by Isiah Rankin at half time and that move proved to be a deciding factor that influenced the proceedings for the next 45 minutes.
With 49 minutes gone Rico Morris eased Price off the ball and fed Rankin down the left where the former Arsenal and Bradford City man played in Awuah who won his race with Smith, as he rushed off his goal line, and passed the ball into the empty net to put Ashford a goal up.
The goal sparked a period of Ashford dominance and Rankin went close with a fierce effort after cutting in from the left and Awuah headed wide from a Russ Canderton long throw before Jamie Lawrence was replaced by Kane Louis.
Louis was soon into the action, firing just wide, following good work from Weight and Awuah but it wasn’t long before the visitors pressure told on the Aylesbury defence as they notched their second of the afternoon. A free kick on the Aylesbury right was taken by Smith but only found the head of Weight who sent the ball back for Awuah to win his tussle with Gross before sliding the ball into the net as Smith desperately tried to regain his position on his goal line.
Three minutes later, Aylesbury produced some pressure of their own to pull a goal back. Ashford failed to clear their lines and were punished when Brennan fired through a ruck of players to give hope to their supporters but it was Ashford who scored the decisive next goal when Weight intercepted the ball in midfield and played in Awuah who struck from the edge of Smith’s penalty area for his hattrick.
Fired up Ashford had two further chances before the final whistle, both from Louis, shooting just wide from the edge of the Aylesbury penalty area then, shortly after, embarking on a mazy run that took him past four challenges and into the penalty area but he lost the ball trying to manoeuvre it onto his favoured right boot for the shot.
A good second half performance from Ashford against spirited opposition with neither side getting any help from a referee who looked out of his depth and his assistants that gave him no support whatsoever.