FA Carlsberg Trophy, Second Round
| Ashford exited this season’s FA Trophy competition after a great run that saw them reach the second round proper for the first time in their history. A single goal on the hour was the difference between the two teams in the end although it is fait to say that Ashford’s Andray Baptiste was the busier of the two keepers.
Manager Jamie Lawrence fielded, arguably, close to his best team while the opposition boasted prolific striker Carl Rook and, Teddy’s boy, Charlie Sheringham in their starting line-up.
The blustery swirling wind that swept around the Robert Parker Stadium caused both sides to take their time in settling and the game went from end to end with no clear cut chances for either team though Baptiste was forced to punch the ball off the head of Charlie Sheringham, early on, but Lee Burns could only fire the loose ball over.
Dartford should have taken a 26th minute lead when Jack Clark swung over a free kick from the right, Ashford failed to clear but Burns only managed to hit the bar from close range, minutes later Ashford replied as Luke Hickie took the ball across the edge of the Dartford penalty area before prodding the ball into the path of Isaiah Rankin who let fly a powerful drive that Andrew Young could not hold but Jones Awuah was ruled off-side as he attempted to force the rebound into the net.
Sheringham flashed another attempt wide of Baptiste’s right hand post before Rankin glided past two defenders down the left but Hickie couldn’t control his shot from Rankin’s short pass.
The home side had a good shout for a penalty on 40 minutes when a defender handled the ball from a corner but the referee was not interested.
With the wind increasing in strength and pitch cutting up, their was little chance of anticipating the bounce of the ball, illustrated when a Dartford defender miscontrolled the ball but the uneven bounce took it away from the feet of Jordan Kiffin as he waited to pounce.
Hickie pushed a good ball wide, shortly after, into the path of Kiffin and he lost no time in getting down the line to send over a good deep cross that was half cleared out to the waiting Rankin but the Ashford striker could not keep his half-volley down.
Dartford finally broke the deadlock in the 59th minute and, it must be said, a little against the run of play. Billy Burgess found his way through a gap in the Ashford defence where he turned the ball back into the path of George Purcell and he made no mistake from the edge of the box, though Baptiste was being obstructed by Carl Rook at the time.
Ashford pushed up and Hickie went close on a couple of occasions then, on 84 minutes, Rankin played the ball into the feet of Awuah and his flick over the defender gave him a chance but it was brave goal keeping by Young as he smothered Awuah’s shot with his body at the striker’s feet.
For the final 10 minutes the home side sent Billy Jeffreys up to join in the attack and add some height but it was to no avail as the Conference South side hung on to be included in Monday’s draw.