FA Cup, sponsored by E.ON 1st Qualifying Round
An 87th minute leveller from 17 year old Lewis Wombwell and some smart stops by Ashford keeper Paul Burgess kept the Middlesex sides interests alive in this seasons FA Cup competition. Worthing provided good competition, relying on passing the ball and good movement from the players, and at times had their hosts on the back foot.
Jamie Lawrence made three changes to his starting line-up, Guy Hollis returning from injury to take his place at right back with Russ Canderton moving to his usual role in the centre of defence, Akwasi Edusei came in at left back in place of Rico Morris and Chamal Fenelon replaced Jamie Lawrence who had picked up a slight knock.
Neither keeper was unduly inconvenienced for the first 45 minutes, Michael Hunter went to ground to save from an early Kane Louis effort and again later to claim a Fenelon cross while his opposite number in the home goal, Paul Burgess, made light of plucking high balls out of the air from Kevin Townsend and Callum Suanders.
That’s not to say there were no chances, Billy Jeffreys could have done better than head over an early Louis corner, Fenelon went close with a shot after a great turn in Worthing’s penalty box, firing across the goal and just past the far post after good work from Edusei and Jones Awuah while Canderton had to defend a good attack by the visitors when Josh Biggs set up Mike Huckett.
Hunter did well to beat out a snap shot from Jordan Kiffin on the half hour and, shortly after following a surging run down the right by Hollis, Fenelon saw his goal bound shot blocked while Tom Manton screwed a good chance across Burgess’ goal at the other end.
Ashford went so close to taking the lead just prior to half time when Kiffin found Awuah loitering on the right, the Ghanaian international picked out Fenelon with a low ball and the big striker watched as his first time shot curled agonisingly just past Hunter’s right hand post.
Mark Bitmead replaced Chamal Fenelon at half time and was straight into the action forcing Hunter into two saves then Kiffin found Bitmead on the right and the young striker cut inside his full back and wriggled his way into the penalty box but a superbly timed tackle from Tony Timms averted the danger.
A wayward Biggs effort flew over Burgess’ bar following a corner before Jeffreys managed to head away a dangerous Steve Metcalf cross, then the Ashford skipper joined the attack, heading over a good Luke Hickie corner but marred what was a good performance by getting himself cautioned for a needless foul and, in the 64th minute, giving away a penalty that gave Worthing the lead, although it must be said, Biggs went to ground very easily from what looked a very innocuous challenge. Saunders stepped up and dispatched the spot kick.
Burgess made a good save from Saunders with 20 minutes left before Hickie played in Awuah who shot over from the edge of the visitors penalty area. Burgess was in action again shortly after, pulling off a great save to deny Biggs.
A tiring Jordan Kiffin who, along with Kane Louis, must have covered every blade of grass, was replaced by Lewis Wombwell on 77 minutes who moved up front alongside Awuah, an inspired substitution by Jamie as it turned out.
A two footed lunge saw Hickie in the referee’s book for the second Saturday running before Burgess produced the save of the match, diving full length to finger tip a thunderous drive from Mark Pulling round his right hand post.
Ashford finally got a deserved equaliser in the 87th minute when the Worthing defence failed to clear from a long throw by Hollis, the ball bouncing twice before finally being touched home by Lewis Wombwell for his first senior goal for his club.
Ashford had a great chance to record a victory in time added on when Scott Weight found Awuah who fluffed his shot but the ball fell into the path of Bitmead who could only find the side netting as Hunter rushed off his line to narrow the angle.
Both sides are in the hat for Mondays 2nd Qualifying Round draw, 24 hours before Ashford make their way down to Sussex for the replay that will determine who will progress to that match.