We're going in the right
direction, admits upbeat Thorogood
|Stephen McCartney reports from the Courage Stadium|
Jamie Kempster 87
|Ashford Town put on a promising
performance at a sparse Hayes Lane tonight - but are still searching for
their first away win of the season, writes Stephen McCartney.
It was, however, a vast improvement from their 3-0 drubbing by Ian Jenkins' side at Homelands just 14 days ago.
Tonight, experienced striker Gary Abbott gave the home side a 15th minute lead, lifting the ball over the advancing Dave Wietecha and into the bottom corner to score his eighth goal of the season.
However, just two minutes earlier, Cray Wanderers' goalkeeper Steve Northwood had to be at his best to deny the impressive Solomon Henry, who felt he was going to score with his 20-yard effort.
Ashford went into this game looking for their first win on their travels and they created three good first half chances to break their duck at the tenth attempt.
Stalwart Tom Adlington played in Emanuel Sackey down the right and whilst inside the penalty area, the recent capture from Gravesend & Northfleet's PASE team, blazed high over the near post.
And two minutes later, top-scorer with six goals, Joby Thorogood delivered a cross from the right hand side of the penalty area, which was met by the unmarked Henry at the far post, but the 22-year-old winger saw his header agonisingly clip the left upright.
Henry was once again denied by the former Thamesmead Town goalkeeper on the stroke of half-time, following a good move down the middle of the pitch.
Wietecha, the former Bromley and Folkestone Invicta goalkeeper, made a fine save early in the second half, when he got his giant frame down to push Jamie Wood's 20-yard drive around the post.
Then Jamie Kempster and Drew Watkins shot over during a good spell for the home side, and Ashford's Richard Boorman suffered the same fate with a shot from long range later in the half.
Leading scorer with 15-goals, Jon Main burst down the middle of the pitch before playing in substitute Leigh Bremner but with only the goalkeeper to beat, Wietecha made a fine block.
But Cray wrapped up victory with three minutes left when Kempster netted his second goal of the season, firing into the bottom right hand corner from eight yards after a low centre by Main.
Although concerned that his side have not scored in ten games this seasonand keeping just one clean sheet this season, Ashford Town's joint-manager/chairman Tim Thorogood admitted he was pleased with tonight's display.
In an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk, he said: "You can't be anything else but positive about that - I thought we were tremendous tonight.
"I think Cray's two goals completely flattered them, but again it's still a 2-0 loss.
"To be honest with you, we've been playing well but not getting the results and the first goal was a dire goal to give away."
Tonight's defeat ended a run of two draws (against Leatherhead and Banstead Athletic) after his side lost their previous five.
"We're going in the right direction," said an upbeat Thorogood. "The last three performances have been good and we could have just as well walked away with nine points as we've walked away with two.
"We know we're in trouble but we are battling but we're putting in decent performances and it will change."
Ramsgate are the visitors to Homelands on Saturday, whilst Cray Wanderers entertain Leatherhead.
And assistant manager Joe Francis admitted he was pleased with the victory and predicted they will now go on a run to climb the table.
After they capitulated during the second half of last week's FA Trophy defeat at Kingstonian, leading 1-0 at the break, before losing the replay 3-1 at Kingsmeadow, Cray have responded in true fashion, with wins over Newport IOW (6-2) and against their lowly Kent rivals tonight.
"We've been good for the last 6-8 weeks," admitted Francis. "I've just said to the boys in there, we're in the middle of a good run - or the start of a good run and maybe it's now time."
Cray had to work hard for their three points tonight, which was exactly the opposite from their comfortable 3-0 win at Homelands two weeks ago, where if it wasn't for Wietecha's heroics the scoreline would have hit double figures.
"That was a tough game tonight, Ashford worked their (socks) off," said Francis. "We totally out played them two weeks ago but now they've got a few new players in, they've put their foot in and that's an important win for us."
Francis, who uses that good old cliché of "one game at a time", is looking forward to their clash with Leatherhead at Hayes Lane on Saturday.
"We're all set up aren't we?" he said. "We will be coming here confident. We are enjoying our time here at home and we're looking forward to it."
Cray will, however, be without 13-goal striker Michael Power, who will be in hospital for two weeks after he ruptured his appendix.
Relishing their game against the Tanners on Saturday, Francis added: "They're flying and are a good side. We played them once already this season this year (losing a Westview Cup tie 5-3 at Fetcham Grove), which was a cracking game and I think we deserved to get something out of that."
|Cray Wanderers: Steve
Northwood, Drew Watkins, Terry Khan, Dean Morris, Danny Bower (Capt),
James Taylor (David Hall 63), Ross Lover, Jamie Kempster, Gary Abbott
(Leigh Bremner 66), Jon Main, Jamie Wood (Gary Ward 90). Subs:
Richard Dimmock, Adam Young
Ashford Town: Dave Wietecha, Jamie Smith, Ian Ross (Capt), Tom Adlington, Mark Banks, Richard Boorman, Emanuel Sackey, Nathan Thomas, Joby Thorogood, Shaun Bradshaw, Solomon Henry (Kenny Jarret-Elliott 88). Subs: Steve Humphrey, Anthony Pace, Jazhel Bonaparte, Denver Birmingham
Referee: Mr Simon Long
Assistants: Mr Ade Ajibola & Mr Ron Albert