We are turning the corner,
|Ashford Town couldn't wait for the end
of 2005. Their record in league and cup matches was very bleak
indeed, winning only nine of their 45 outings, and only one of them was
away from home, writes Stephen McCartney.
So you can imagine their delight, when, just two days into the New Year, they were 3-0 up at the break against sixth placed Dover Athletic - in front of their highest crowd at Homelands this season - courtesy of goals from Joby Thorogood (top scorer with 8 goals), Adrian Stone and Denver Birmingham.
Two second half goals from Dover striker Craig Wilkins weren't enough to salvage anything from the game, but the return of striker Stone from his home-town club Bromley, is hopefully the rocket they need to climb the Ryman League Division One table.
Ashford, who won their fourth league game of the season against Clive Walker's side, are three points from the foot of the table, but they do have three sides below them.
Ashford Town manager/owner Tim Thorogood couldn't hide his delight with their first victory in ten league games.
In an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk, he said: "Three points was wonderful. That's what the new year needed to bring me. It was fabulous.
"In the first half we were just superior than they were and we tore them to shreds. That must be the most humiliating first half they've had for years - and the best we've had for years too."
So what inspired Ashford to pull off such a great win? "We didn't get too heavy with tactics because we did that on New Year's eve," replied Thorogood.
"We trained for over three hours and we had a really good session, working on shutting people down and when to do it.
"When you play Dover you have to press them at the right time. We did some work on that and getting people in the box.
"Certainly for our third goal, which is probably the best goal seen at Ashford. We played the ball to feet with probably eight to ten passes without Dover touching the ball. We got the ball into the area and midfielder Denver Birmingham scored with his head.
"What pleased me most was what we worked on in training comes to tuition and it was a fabulous goal."
The manager is hoping striker Stone, whose now scored 36 goals in 94 appearances in different spells for Ashford, will rekindle his friendship with the Thorogood family - on the pitch as well as off it.
"Our fans seem to think I fell out with Adrian. I haven't done," insisted the manager.
"He is personally friends with all my kids. He went on an end of season trip to Bournemouth the season he left us and he travelled with me.
"I have always got on with Adrian and always will do. He is a good lad and a fine player.
"He made the difference against Dover. He gave us quality in the air and on the floor and baring his fitness levels he did great for us.
"He brought Joby in the game and they'll always play well because they get on well with each other. As much as Adrian had a great game I felt Joby was brilliant as well."
Is this the turning point that will see the Kent club climb the table? The little and large partnership up front that works well at other clubs should propel Ashford up the table.
"Let's put it into perspective, it's not just about them two. Everybody in our team was fabulous against Dover. It was a complete team performance. The defence in the second half defended brilliantly," praised Thorogood.
"I think personally we've struggled up front and needed a bit of quality up there, which we have now got but I don't know how long Adrian will stay."
Despite the rows about the rights to video the Homelands clash, Thorogood admitted he admires Dover's travelling support, which attracted a lucrative gate of 691 to Homelands.
Thorogood said: "I would like to thank the supporters that came back to us that we haven't seen for many months.
"I would like to thank Dover - their fans were superb. The atmosphere was first class. You have to admire the support they've got. I wish it was us because I think Dover are very lucky with the support they get from their fans."
The Homelands faithful, however,
will be hoping their team can repeat last Monday's performance - and
result - when Metropolitan Police visit on Saturday.