Evo-Stik League, Division One Central
Ashford Town (Middlesex) returned from their long trip to Biggleswade Town having been defeated by the table-topping Waders, but the final score of 4-1 was harsh on Paul Burgess’ young side, who played good football in parts.
The Ash Trees travelled to Bedfordshire buoyed by their midweek away win at Ryman League Premier Division side Wealdstone in the Help for Heroes Cup and started well at the Carlsberg Stadium, with Mark Bitmead having a sight of goal as early as the fifth minute. However, the youngster’s finish lacked conviction.
The opening quarter of the match was even, but Ashford looked marginally the better side without really testing home ‘keeper Dean Bull, although Bitmead did force a save from the Biggleswade stopper, while good work by Dan Brown (pictured) and Pietro Palladino allowed Palladino to fire in a cross that just eluded Rob Curtis.
However, in the 25th minute, Biggleswade took the lead from a free-kick that was harshly given against Russell Canderton, whose only offence was to be run into by a forward. Whether the decision of referee De Costa was right or not, the record will show that the set piece was met by forward Harry Hunt, whose delicate flicked header eluded Paul McCarthy.
The goal boosted the home team, who boast a 100% success rate in home League matches, and they almost added a second goal in the 31st minute when defender Steve Gentle headed just wide from a free kick launched down the centre of the field.
Biggleswade were now dominating matters and they doubled their advantage in first half stoppage time, when midfielder Scott Field volleyed an overhead kick into the net from the edge of the penalty area.
Ashford started the second half purposefully and both Bitmead and Jim Mann had shots blocked. However, two goals in a minute ended the match as a contest as Biggleswade underlined their promotion credentials.
The third goal of the afternoon came in the 54th minute and saw the Waders hit their guests on the counter-attack, leaving Craig Daniel with time and space to shoot across Paul McCarthy. Seconds later, naïve defending allowed Field to scramble in his second goal of the afternoon.
In the 63rd minute, Biggleswade should have scored their fifth goal when Field, on a hat-trick, somehow shot wide from four yards out when through on goal.
It is to Ashford’s credit that their young side dug in and played positively for the remainder of the game. Dan Brown headed home a consolation goal from a right-sided corner in the 79th minute, Mark Bitmead hit a free kick wide and Ashley Lodge struck the post as Ashford staged a late rally. Ed Thomas and Brown also had chances in stoppage time, but were unable to alter a scoreline which underlines Bigglewade’s promotion credentials whilst also illustrating that this new and young Ashford squad is very much a “work in progress”.