Monday 12th September 2005

Ashford's reserves remain unbeaten

Ashford Town's reserve side remain unbeaten in the Kentish Observer Division One table after their battling 2-1 win at Cray Wanderers on Saturday, writes Stephen McCartney.

Despite losing last season's top scorer Jason Long to the first team at short notice, and with Luke Robinson and Richard Vidler unavailable, Ashford had some juggling to do for their visit to Oxford Road, Sidcup.

However, Terry Hawkey, Chris Petts and Barry Crawford all made their competitive debuts for the Homelands club.

Playing down the slope during the first half, Ashford started the brighter, stringing together many passes on each move forward, and it was not too long before Shane Sims sent Maxton down the right, only for him to miss-time his cross.

This was going to be the script for the afternoon, with Ashford's final ball letting them down.

But after sustaining a little pressure, including a couple of corners, Ashford settled down again, and Dan Lee missed a glorious opportunity to put them ahead, as did former Tunbridge Wells' player Sims.

With ten minutes before the break, however, Cray let loose a long ball that caught Ashford out, but on this occasion Matt Woolf lost his way and missed the chance.

Tim Russell, relieved launched the ball from his hands into the opposite box, Purseglove captalised and tucked it past the advancing goalkeeper, former Bromley reserve team goalkeeper Harry Hunter.

Ashford Town manager Mike Robbins made a change during the interval, bringing John Whittaker into the game, replacing Lee.  A slight change of formation later, and his side were on top again.

While Ashford were enjoying some good build up play, the home side still threw everything into it, contesting every challenge and decision.

On 55 minutes, however, Ashford lad, Petts appeared to get elbowed (allegedly) in a 50/50 challenge, that subsequently saw him substituted whilst nursing an inch long cut above his left eye.

At this stage, all that stopped Ashford from running riot was the final ball - Cray searched forward looking to get back into the game, but some resolute work from the impressive Crawford and Sims kept them at bay.

On the hour, Aiden Pursglove set up his strike partner, John Whittaker with a lovely through ball.  Whittaker, whilst holding off two players raced through, to hit the ball early, at full pace and thrashed the ball into the top left corner from 20-yards.

Whittaker also went close with a header from Jamie Maxton's cross but the goalkeeper got a finger to it.

A couple of dubious decisions in the last half hour, which caused both sides get angry.

Nick Smith played the whistle - unlike the Ashford back four - and smashed the ball past Russell to make it an exciting final ten minutes.

Jubilant Robbins commented: "Overall, the result went the right way."

And goalscorer Whittaker added: "It's always good to score, but that one was for Mike (Robbins) after the support he has given me."

But coach Martin Larkin, whose still looking for the elusive clean sheet added: "I am more than happy with the effort of all the defence but we still need to work tighter as a unit."

They will be looking to keep a clean sheet when Deal Town's reserve side make the trip to Homelands next Saturday, 17th September (3pm).

Ashford Town: Tim Russell, Chris Petts (Billy Rice 65), Dave Bourne, Terry Hawkey, Barry Crawford, Matt Curnock, Jamie Maxton, Dan Lee (John Whittaker 46), Aiden Pursglove, Shane Sims, Dave Arthur (Sherlone Spooner 70).  Subs: Barry Cunningham, Adam Haines