Harlow Town 2
Ashford Town (Middlesex) 5

Ryman League Premier Division,
Barrows Farm Stadium, Harlow
19th March 2009

A stunning second half performance saw Ashford Town take a giant step towards securing their Premier Division status while adding to Harlow’s relegation worries.  Mark Butler’s much changed side scored four unanswered second half goals and even a late missed penalty did not take the shine off the Tangerines trip to Essex.

Mark Butler welcomed back Anthony Joseph, Michael Peacock and Luke Pigden into the starting line-up after all three were ineligbile to play at Harrow Borough 48 hours before.  All in all, the Ashford boss made six changes to the side defeated at Earlsmead.

The visitors started the game well, with Ricky Wellard looking lively in midfield and forcing an early save from Hawks skipper James Hasell, as did Scott Harris.  However, the Hawks took control of the game with John Frendo having an effort ruled out for offside as well as blazing wide.  Ashford responded well and Wellard and Scott Harris both had chances to score before Ashford took the lead in the 33rd minute.  Byron Harrison’s run penetrated the home defence and gave him room to shoot.  Although the shot was cleared, the rebound fell to Luke Pigden, whose shot was also hacked away, but not before the assistant referee had adjudged it to have crossed the line.

Ashford’s advantage lasted just four minutes as an incisive passing move found Chris Ellerbeck, whose well-placed shot gave Craig Ross no chance.  The home side were now playing with renewed confidence and took the lead with a minute of the first half remaining when Nick Hardy could only half-clear a cross and Ellerbeck fired the loose ball home.

Whatever was said to the Ashford players during the interval obviously had the desired effect, as they began the second period brightly.  Scott Harris and Harrison both had good opportunities to equalise before the breakthrough arrived in the fifty-second minute.  Wellard tapped a short free kick to Anthony Joseph, whose low shot found the corner of Hasell’s net.

Now it was Ashford’s turn to enjoy a dominant spell and Wellard’s ball to Harrison split the defence, with Harrison then finding Scott Harris, whose shot was blocked.  In the 64th minute, Warren Harris replaced promising youngster Moses Phillips and his pace immediately caused problems for the hosts. 

With twenty-one minutes remaining, Ashford took the lead when strong pressure saw Joseph and Scott Harris have shots on goal before Byron Harrison rolled the ball home from twelve yards.  Six minutes later, the advantage was doubled when Joseph’s free kick was flicked on by Scott Harris, whose younger brother  Warren Harris put the ball away.  Three minutes later, it was 5-2 when a Wellard free kick eluded everyone except Warren Harris who flicked the ball into the net.

With nine minutes left, Wellard had the opportunity to cap a fine performance with a goal, after he was felled by Taylor for a penalty.  Taking the kick himself, the midfielder’s shot was well saved by Hassell.  Harlow had opportunities in the final minutes, with Logie heading a free kick against his own bar but there were no further goals, ensuring that Ashford made their journey home with three very valuable points.