Wednesday 04th January 2006

We are turning the corner, insists Thorogood

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.

Thorogood, meanwhile, is hoping to attract a crowd of 300 to Homelands for the clash, which will enable him to bolster his squad.

"I am surprised to see they're struggling a bit, but they're a good side," admitted Thorogood.

"We played them in the first game of the season.  It was nice because they told us we were a good side.  We frightened them in the first half like we did against Dover and they got a result they didn't deserve.

"I think it's a good game for us.  We are going up against a good quality outfit and if we can get a good result that will be two in a row and inspire players' confidence and go on which I think they can do."

After their game against Metropolitan Police, Ashford travel to Whyteleafe (14th January) before promotion chasing Kent rivals Tonbridge Angels should bring another much needed big crowd to Homelands seven days later.

Ashford will be looking to break their away day duck with trips to bottom of the table, Newport IOW (28th January), Banstead Athletic (4th February) and Kingstonian two days later.

"When you get to 40 points, we'll be okay," predicted Thorogood, whose side have 18 points from 24 games.

"To be fair it could be lower this year as everyone is beating everybody.  I'm not setting targets.  When you are where we are you take one game at a time.  But this year we have kept ourselves above the bottom two.

"If our performances improve and if we can move on to where we want to go. I am more than confident to finish with some quality with something to be proud of.

"There could be many more performances from the one we had against Dover.

"We are still going to bring a few more players," Thorogood revealed.  "We've got several players we are looking at.  I'm fairly excited about it.

"Let's hope we don't have a hangover from Monday and move forward, stringing several performances together.

"You can only do your best with the limited resources we've got at the club.

"We trained 24 hours after the Dover game and every player turned up for training.  We need players that want to play for us and fight for this football club.

"John (Cumberbatch) and I have put a lot of time into this football club and I think this is the turning of a corner for us."

Ashford Town v Metropolitan Police
Ryman League Division One
Saturday 7th January 2006
Kick Off 3:00pm
at The Homelands, Ashford Road, Kingsnorth, Ashford