Ryman League Premier Division,
This was a very disappointing performance by a team that seemed to have regressed back to the bad days of last season. Gone was the crisp passing game that delighted the Ashford faithful in earlier matches to be replaced by the systematic banging of long balls up to Byron Harrison in the hope that he could magic something out of nothing or play in one of his team mates. With the midfield largely redundant it was no surprise that the very young and inexperienced Margate side managed to exploit this weakness and, apart from one or two periods, ran the show.
Ashford started brightly enough with Harrison wasting a chance to give his side an early lead but it was the visitors that came closest to scoring in the opening minutes when Wayne Wilson swung in a dangerous free kick from the right which was met at the far post by Michael Power who headed over.
Power continued to pose problems for Ashford’s defenders and twice forced good stops out of Craig Ross, in the Ashford goal, before a superb save from his opposite number Lee Butcher denied Billy Jeffreys from a corner.
Margate came even closer to scoring in the 18th minute when Power’s shot beat Ross but Adam Logie had got back to cover his keeper and managed a block on the goal-line, Power seized on the rebound but once again found Logie in the right place to clear.
Bizarrely, the game was held up for some time when the Assistant’s eagle-eyed gaze fell upon a small pile of fox’s droppings and whose subsequent frenzied flag waving bought the matter to the attention of the referee who commanded the removal of the offending material. To the rescue bounded the Vice-Chairman, John Ellis, who, bravely, disposed of the dung with the aid of his own bare hands and a discarded crisp packet, thoughtfully left on the ground by a forward thinking supporter. Strangely, no one wished to shake hands with John for the rest of the afternoon.
With the drama over and the assistant satisfied, referee Mr Berry decreed that the game should commence but, save from a couple of long range efforts from Harrison and a shot from Paul Johnson that sailed wide Ashford looked sterile in attack until, in the 42nd minute, a defence splitting pass from Gavin Bamford found Harrison in space and it took an excellent save by Butcher to keep the Ashford striker from notching his seventh of the season.
Again, Ashford started the second half on top but a break-away by the visitors gave Power a half-chance but he fired into the side netting from an angle after a good run and pass by Ryan Peters then, a long range shot from former Gillingham skipper Paul Smith fizzed wide.
Peters supplied the cross that should have given Margate the lead but James Gregory headed wide before, in the 58th minute, they did take a deserved lead. Ashford’s defenders failed to clear a ball played in from the right and Power was in the right place to fire forcefully past Ross from 15 yards.
Being a goal down should have sparked the hosts into life but, sadly, it didn’t. The Margate defence including the excellent keeper Butcher, had no difficulty in dealing with any threat posed by Ashford and they were forced to try their luck from range.
A long clearance out of defence found Power in space and he rattled Ross’ crossbar with a good effort then, in injury time, Ashford substitute Jon Palmer acrobatically hooked the ball into Butcher’s arms from a Ricardo Joseph free kick.
A bad day at the office for the men from Short Lane who have now lost 3 league games on the trot. Hopefully they will turn it around when they visit Carshalton Athletic on Tuesday