Ashford Town (Middlesex)


AFC Hornchurch


Ryman League Premier Division,
Short Lane Stadium
12th December 2009

Fit again Vinnie O’Sullivan replaced Charlie McCarthy in the centre of Ashford’s defence and produced a superb ‘man of the match’ performance in this uninspiring draw. The home side started much the brighter with some good early work from Ricardo Joseph and Scott Harris, in for the injured Byron Harrison, but gradually the visitors clawed their way back into the game and gave cause for concern when a foul on Wayne Gray generated a free kick that was propelled towards Mark Goodfellow who climbed above the Ashford defence but could only head wide.

Hornchurch spurned another golden opportunity the take the lead when Jo Flack broke through the Ashford defence but showed too much of the ball to Craig Ross, allowing the Ashford keeper to drop on the ball then, at the other end, Scott Harris demonstrated his strength as he held off the challenge of Elliot Styles, cut in from the right and picked out Paul Johnson with a low cross, but the Ashford skipper’s attempted right-footed shot sailed wide of the far post.

Brett Cooper earned himself a caution for sliding into Andy Tomlinson a little late, which the Hornchurch winger made the most of, before Johnson drove a free kick over Darren Behcet’s goal.

Johnson had another chance late in the half. A defence splitting ball played through the Hornchurch back row was latched on to by Brian Haule but his cross was fired wildly over Behcet’s bar by the Ashford midfielder.

Early in the second half, a long throw from Guy Hollis was played out as far as Weight but his volley was taken by Behcet before, in the 58th minute, Ashford took the lead. Following a good passage of play, Johnson chipped a delightful ball over the top of the Hornchurch defence to Warren Harris and the young winger held off two challenges to roll the ball past Behcet and into the back of the net.

A brave challenge from Scott Harris earned him a knock in the face but he managed to find his brother Warren whose left foot volley was well saved by the Hornchurch keeper then another chance went begging as a cross from the left by Warren Harris found the head of Scott Harris and the loose ball fell to Brian Haule who, off balance, rolled the ball narrowly wide of Behcet’s right hand post.

Jamie Dormer headed the ball into the grateful arms of Ross, soon after, after good work from Tomlinson on the left then Gray tested the Ashford keeper from a cross from the Hornchurch left obliging Ross to pull of the save of the match to tip the ball over his bar for a corner.

Hornchurch equalised in the 79th minute from another corner when Dormer met the ball at the near post to plant a positive header into the net that gave Ross no chance then, in the 84th minute, Tomlinson eased his way past the Ashford right back Brett Cooper but saw his drive cleared off the goal line by Joseph.

The score remained one apiece, a fair reflection on the match. Jamie Lawrence, the Ashford manager will be encouraged by the performance of Hollis and, especially, O’Sullivan who were outstanding at the heart of a defence that looked a lot more solid than in recent weeks.