Town downed by marvellous Mendy
Evo-Stik League Southern, Division One Central
AFC Hayes survived an early onslaught from Ashford Town (Middlesex) to record their third successive league win, while Ashford are now five games without a victory. The visitors were without their captain, Russell Canderton, who has broken a toe and Perry Luckins, who was also injured during the midweek defeat against Grays Athletic. Jack Mullan and Joe Bennett replaced the absent Ash Trees.
Ashford started this game brilliantly and excellent work from Bennett in the opening minute created a real opening for Mark Bitmead, whose shot flew over the bar. Bitmead had a further two chances in the first quarter of an hour as the Tangerines completely dominated the opening part of the game.
However, as is so often the case, Ashford were punished for their failure to turn possession into goals. A deep corner was crossed back towards goal by Lawrie Shennan and Tony Mendy’s acrobatic header gave Paul McCarthy no chance.
The home side settled and were the better team after the goal, and Mitchal Gough might have doubled their lead, but shot straight at McCarthy. Mark Bitmead might have levelled for the visitors, but he saw a fierce and potentially goalbound shot deflected wide.
The fitness of defender Bairoh Conteh has been an issue for the Tangerines in recent weeks and he left the game at half time. Ashford handed a debut to Chris Robinson, who went into the right-back role, with Harry Knock moving across into central defence. Town seemed untroubled by the change and enjoyed a strong spell of pressure at the start of the second half, without testing goalkeeper Ben Goode.
However, AFC Hayes always looked dangerous on the counter attack and they caught their guests cold in the 54th minute. A short corner from Ashford was played into Alex Duffy, who was outmuscled and The Brook swept forward, a superb pass from Aban Majeed creating a one-on-one for Tony Mendy, whose finish was emphatic.
Ashford had a superb chance to get back into the game soon afterwards, but Kofi Lockhart-Adams could only head the ball into Goode’s arms. Ashford were struggling to impose themselves on the game and, a long-range shot from Ed Thomas aside, did not look like testing the home side.
With 12 minutes left, The Brook made the game safe, Majeed hitting an excellent shot from the left flank, across McCarthy’s goal and just inside the far post to make the score 3-0.
The home side were playing exuberantly now and Mendy might have completed his hat-trick, but blazed over the bar while unmarked. At the other end, Ashford had not given up and Scott Weight had a long-range shot saved before Town did score, with two minutes remaining. Substitute Samad Kazi volleyed home smartly after an excellent move down the right flank. Duffy also went close to reducing the defecit as Ashford battled to the end, but there can be no doubt that AFC Hayes deserved to take the points.