On a wet and cold evening at Camberley Town on Tuesday evening, it was perhaps no surprise that only 22 people braved the elements to watch Camberley and Ashford play out a drawn match, one apiece, leaving the Tangerines to go through on penalties by 3 goals to 1.
Manager Murray, no doubt with the game against Marlow in mind on Saturday, left some of his regulars out or put them on the bench, It was still a reasonably strong side that took the field including goalkeeper Tyler Tobin who had been out injured since the Tooting match in late August. Nebay Haile also started and he did himself justice. Scott Weight returned from suspension and both Joe Green and Leo Decabo played.
Nothing too notable happened in the first half in which Ashford had lots of possession but rarely looked like actually scoring. On the other side of the coin Camberley had less of the ball but took the lead on 26 minutes following a good interception from Steve Loveridge but which fell to Steve Duff, ex Hartley Wintney, and without delayhe unleashed a very decent effort which found the back of the net to put the home side one up.
The second half followed a similar pattern, although as the game went on, with Ashford pushing up, Camberley found more space and could have increased their lead on more than one occasion. As the final quarter started two fo Ashford’s big guns came on in the shape of Mark Bitmead and Samad Kazi and it brought fairly immediate dividends as Kazi found himself unmarked at the back post as he sent the ball cooly into the net for the equaliser.
There was then a bizarre incident that saw home keeper Ossat come racing out of his area to deny Bitmead only to be pulled up by the referee for what appeared to be a handling offence outside the area. It seemed for all the world that Ossat might be having an early bath only for the referee to change his mind upon an assistant’s word that in actual fact the keeper had not handled the ball, the eventual outcome being a dropped ball.
It would have been tough on the home side to have been beaten in 90 minutes but it did them no good as we entered the penalty shoot out. They took the first one and it was blazed over the bar. Ashford then scored their opening effort through Steve Loveridge who thus crowned a fine game. Camberley scored their next one but a very confident attempt from Haile saw the Tangerines 2-1 up. The next Camberley taker, not to be outdone than blazed his effort over the bar as well, only for Bitmead to make it 3-1 to Ashford. To emphasise that maybe Camberley need to practice their spot kicks, the fourth taker also put the ball over the top and it was all over with Ashford winning 3-1 on penalties.
The win puts Ashford in the quarter finals, in which they will be away to either Cobham or Abbey Rangers.