Ashford United 4-0 Hythe Town - The frightening thing is, I know there’s loads more to come, warns title-chasing Ashford United boss Tommy Warrilow

Saturday 06th November 2021
Ashford United 4 – 0 Hythe Town
Location Homelands Stadium, Ashford Road, Kingsnorth, Ashford, Kent TN26 1NJ
Kickoff 06/11/2021 15:00

Isthmian League South East Division
Saturday 6 November 2021
Stephen McCartney reports from Homelands Stadium

ASHFORD UNITED manager Tommy Warrilow says the frightening thing is he knows there is loads more to come from his side after thrashing their local rivals Hythe Town to extend their unbeaten home league record.

Warrilow’s men remain in third-place in the Isthmian League South East Division table with 26 points from 12 games, closing the gap to leaders Cray Valley (Paper Mills) to three points, after sealing a comfortable victory over their struggling neighbours.

Hythe Town have won only one of their last eight games in all competitions and despite having a vastly-experienced side in their ranks, the Cannons have been misfiring in twelfth-place in the table with 14 points on the board from their 11 games.

This win was too easy for Ashford United.  A cagey opening exploded into life when centre-half Daniel Hull headed in after a three-man set-piece, in fact three of the home side’s four goals came from well-worked set-pieces.

Ashford United scored three times during the second half as central midfielder Josh Wisson swept in following a long-throw before left-wing-back Mamadou Diallo was left unmarked to volley in to finish off a move in open play.

Substitute striker Johan Ter Horst notched his third goal of the season inside the final couple of minutes after the home side went long again, which left Hythe Town boss Steven Watt questioning his players’ desire levels.

“Really pleased to score four and keep a clean-sheet in a local derby.  Hythe have got some fantastic players’ so we knew it was going to be a tough game,” said Warrilow.

“I want my cake and eat it. We should be scoring goals, more goals and today we got four. It could’ve been a few more as well but the most important thing was to get three points.

“It’s going to be a long old season. There’s going to be loads of ups and downs in it but this time last week we were deflated (losing 1-0 at Cray Valley) and today we’re not going to go over the top with it.

“It’s a local derby and it’s a great 4-0 but we’ve got a bigger target in mind, that’s why I’m getting my head down.  I know what I’m focusing on and when we lose I take it on the chin and the criticisms that come our way but when we win you just get on with it and you just want to win the next game.”

Hythe Town also suffered a 4-0 defeat at Cray Valley on 26 October, but bounced back with a 2-1 win at Faversham Town seven days later but this was a miserable day for fans that made the 28-mile round trip up the M20.

“Déjà vu, same old story. A hard one to take. I thought Ashford were the better side and deserved to win,” admitted Hythe Town boss Steven Watt.

“But as the game went on we just lost our fight and desire and they took over in the second half.

“Players have got to be mentally stronger than what they’ve been, I just want a bit more character, a bit more fight and I didn’t get that.”

Watt revealed: “The club has got a meeting next week regarding stuff behind the scenes so we’ll see how that meeting goals but I think changes need to be made, more changes.  We got a good positive reaction from the changes that we made at Faversham on Tuesday night but like I said to the players ‘you always revert back to type;’ and that’s what we’ve done.

“The going got tough today, we didn’t stand up to be counted and that’s what needs to be addressed, so I think there may need to be some personnel changes.

“It’s never good, it’s never good to lose any game regardless of it being a derby.  The club’s going through a few hard times at the minute. It’s not just effecting the fans, it’s effecting the players. The players don’t know what’s around the corner either. The fans need to have that into consideration but the players and the team that I put out on the pitch should be giving a better showing than what they did do today.”

Direct Ashford United were a threat from set-pieces during the entire derby.

Rhyle Ovenden floated in a free-kick into the Hythe Town box, the ball was flicked on by Tashi-Jay Kwayie at the near post and centre-half Liam Friend’s header at the back post was comfortably caught by visiting keeper Henry Newcombe after only 75 seconds.

Despite the corner-count being shared at five-a-piece, the home side should have scored following their second delivery, in from the right by Ovenden and met by Hull, who rose above Frannie Collin inside the penalty area to plant his header over the crossbar.

Hythe Town created their first opening in the 16th minute when centre-half Tom Wynter was in space and he hit the ball up to often isolated striker Collin, who controlled the ball with his chest before sweeping the ball out to Tyler Sterling, who dragged a speculative low right-footed drive across the keeper and bouncing past the far post from 35-yards.

“There’s no real purchase on the shot really but again you’re going into the game nicely and we had an opportunity there that you’d hope to think that Tyler would’ve done better from but it was a cagey start, it was an even start,” said Watt.

Ashford United broke the stalemate by taking the lead in the 19th minute.

Watt was angry that referee Joseph Gray harshly penalised his right-back Liam Smith for a foul on Kwayie, despite claiming the football.

Ovenden floated in the resulting free-kick into the box some 35-yards from goal, Friend  - who plays in the centre of a three-man defence - was at the far post and knocked the ball off his forehead across the face of goal for Hull to bury his free header into the left-hand corner from six-yards to score his first goal of the season.

“Good because we should be scoring more.  I’ve been banging the drum about scoring from set-pieces more and today there were a few occasions when the ball has gone across the goal but I’m pleased that we cashed in on one,” said Warrilow.

A furious Watt added: “The referee clearly tells me I the tunnel at half-time that he’s (Smith) won the ball but his follow through…

“I’m like ‘you’re going to give free-kicks all day.’  We should’ve had a penalty if that’s the case because they cleared the ball and caught Charlie Webster inside the box but no foul was given, so it’s a terrible decision!

“We don’t defend the cross well and they score.  We spoke about they’re very, very good at set-pieces, it’s how they score the majority of their goals.”

Ashford United’s right-wing-back Bradley Simms launched seven loopy long throws into the Hythe Town box during the game and this method was used at the half-way mark.

Kwayie had two bites of the cherry as the ball landed at the near post and target-man Jay May stabbed the ball just past the foot of the left-hand post.

Dominant Ashford United created an opening in open-play in the 24th minute when no one in a Hythe Town shirt pressed Friend as he crossed the halfway line to float in a deep cross towards the edge of the penalty area.

May, with his back to goal, knocked the ball down inside the D and Kwayie stroked his deflected left-footed shot across the keeper and trickling past the far post with goalkeeper Newcombe well-beaten.

Warrilow said: “That is what I mean, you’ve got to play from your strengths and we play some good football and we mix it up.  When Jay May plays he’s a different dimension for us and when he doesn’t play – we had no Jay May or Tommy Fagg and we beat Hastings 3-1 – it shows we can mix it up a little bit.”

Hythe Town finally woke up from their slumber and created a couple of openings, more from luck than good play.

The referee brought play back after an earlier foul and Sterling failed to take advantage of a breakaway.

Holding midfielder Darren Oldaker drilled a poorly hit free-kick, which was heading wide if it bounced off Collin, who took a touch before hitting a left-footed drive towards the bottom near corner, forcing goalkeeper Tyler McCarthy to dive to his right to parry the ball away.

Thirty-eight seconds later, Sterling found space some 25-yards from the Ashford goal but his weak shot was comfortably gathered by the 23-year-old goalkeeper.

Watt said: “These are the type of chances you’ve got to take, when you get chances.

“It wasn’t through good play, DJ miss-kicked a free-kick and Frannie’s been able to control it nicely and got a good shot off and then you need to take those kind of chances in these type of games, particularly when you play the top sides in this division – and we’re just not.”

Warrilow added: “We knew they were going to be a threat from set-pieces so that’s one thing we were trying not to do, was give free-kicks away in bad areas. If that’s what we’re looking at (Hythe’s goalscoring chances) from the first 45 minutes, then I’ll take that.”

Simms’ third long-throw was looped into the Hythe Town box where centre-half Scott Doe headed the ball away and no one had picked up Ovenden, who was in acres of space as he drilled his right-footed shot flashing just past the foot of the left-hand post from 30-yards.

Ashford United produced a good move on the deck as their dominance continued.

Jack Steventon – who plays on the right-hand side of the three-man defence – split open Hythe’s left-back Nathan Gordon to put Simms in behind and the wing-back cut into the box and crossed towards the near post for Roberto Ratti, who hooked his first-time shot past the near post in the 33rd minute.

Warrilow said: “It was a good move to be honest, a very good move. Roberto caught it a bit too clean. It was a good ball from Jack Steventon, Bradley’s picked someone out. It’s something else that we’ve been trying to work on, when we get into those areas to pick people out and unfortunately Roberto got on top of it a little bit too much.”

Ashford United went close again just five minutes later when Oldaker lost the ball to attacker Ratti (and was booked once the move finished after trying to kick out at Ratti as he cut past him in midfield).

Ovenden split open Hythe’s Liam Smith and Doe with a fine diagonal pass which Diallo trod on the ball inside the box but maintain composed to tee up Wisson, whose shot on the turn from the edge of the box flashed across the keeper and past the far post, which was the final chance of the first-half.

“I said (at half-time), we’ve got to up the tempo. I thought we were a bit lethargic in the first half.  We had the wind and we were taking our time with goal-kicks and throw-ins and getting the ball back,” said Warrilow.

“I said we need to move the ball, our fitness is one thing we pride ourselves on, so we want to get it in wide areas and drive down the middle, get some third-man runs going so we just wanted to up the tempo.”

Watt asked his players to “be braver on the ball.”

“I thought when we got the ball down and we played, we cut them open, we played through them at ease but we didn’t do it enough.  We went from back to front too often. We were missing out our midfield and when that happened I just felt they were gaining momentum as the half went on, so we spoke about being a bit braver on the ball, moving the ball, keeping the ball and looking at these opportunities when we can play through teams.”

Hythe Town came out for the second half with a much better performance for a short period of time and created a good opening five minutes in.

Alex Brown came to life in midfield and won the ball off Ovenden before releasing Sterling down the left channel and the Folkestone Invicta loanee cut in and put the ball onto his right foot before smashing his shot sailing over the top of the far post.

“I thought we had a real positive start to the second half, I really did, resulting them having to make changes and change their shape,” said Watt.

Warrilow added: “That’s what we go on, shots on target.  We’ve done something today where we’ve marked off how many times we lost possession, given the ball away, got crosses in, corners because we’re trying to get our games videoed here so we can look at the analysis a bit better but listen, if we’re restricting them to long shots that’s not a bad thing.”

However, any slim chances of Hythe Town salvaging anything from the game vanished into thin air as soon as Ashford United doubled their lead in the 57th minute.

Simms launched his seventh and final long throw into the box, May flicked the ball on at the near post and Wisson swept his shot on the turn into the bottom near corner from inside the six-yard box.

“Again, it’s a tool, use it,” Warrilow said defending his long-throw direct approach.

“Most teams have got that and we’re going to be no different. It works for us, so we’ll use it!”

Watt, a retired centre-half, couldn’t bear to watch some woeful defending from his team, mainly Brown, who lost the midfield battle.

“We made another stupid mistake from a long throw where Alex Brown tries to clear it and misses the ball, kicks it straight to their player and it’s the same thing every single week and after that the game is done at 2-0 and then it just become damage limitation again really. It was very similar to the Cray Valley game the other night.”

Watt demanded his vastly-experienced side to show more character and desire at this point in the game as losing without putting up a fight in a local derby is unacceptable!

“I wanted a bit more character. I’ve been involved in so many games when you’re 2-0 down, you come back and get something from the game and the third goal is really important. 

“I just think the way things are happening for us, not just the way the goals are going in, they feel hard done by with the free-kick which they should do. The way the second goal goes in which is a horrific mistake. It’s like how many times has this happened to us, so it has a double effect on the players, I believe.”

Ashford United made it three-nil in the 65th minute when Ratti was released down the left-channel and once on the corner of the box twisted-and-turned Smith before poking the ball beyond the right-back before hanging over a cross towards the far post towards an unmarked May, who knocked the ball down and Doe switched off by allowing Diallo to get in behind him to stick out his left-leg to volley the ball into the roof of the net from inside the six-yard box.

Warrilow said: “I mean that’s pleasing because the wing-backs are getting on and we say to Roberto, the boy should be taking people on more with their ability and Mamadou has continued his run and Jay’s picked him out brilliantly.

“I thought it was a very good goal and I’m really pleased for Mamadou because he’s been working hard, he’s very young and he’s still learning the game but I’m pleased that he’s got his first goal today.”

Watt added: “Basics, again! A free-header in our box again and then Jordan Sarfo doesn’t track his full-back and lets his full-back wonder in the box and score.

“Everyone on the pitch has got to have desire. It’s not desire just to score goals but desire to keep them out of your own net and I don’t care if you’re a forward or you’re a winger, whatever type of player you are, you have to have that desire and for some reason at the minute we don’t have a lot of it.

“From their point of view they’ll go it was a well-worked goal but from our point of view it’s two free shots in our box from Jay May’s header. We’ve left that shot uncontested in our 18-yard box which is just unforgivable!”

Steventon was pushed into the middle of the park as soon as Warrilow made a double change and brought on Ter Horst and Tommy Fagg.

Steventon played a one-two with May on the edge of the box in a central position and Steventon stroked his right-footed shot over the crossbar from inside the D at the halfway point of the second half.

Ratti played the ball out to Fagg, who easily cut inside Oladaker down the left and unleashed a right-footed dipping drive towards the bottom near corner from 25-yards.  Newcombe dropped down to his knees and gathered the ball at the second attempt.

Wynter lost the ball to Fagg inside the Cannons half and this gave Fagg a chance to drive down the heart of the pitch with the ball and unselfishly put it on the plate for an unmarked Ter Horst. 

However, a poor first touch inside the box allowed Newcombe to rush off his line and smother at the striker’s feet.

Ashford United went route-one and notched their fourth goal of the game in the 88th minute, as Ter Horst made amends.

McCarthy launched a big kick up field, the ball was flicked on by May’s replacement, Luke Burdon and put Ter Horst through on goal, left completely unmarked and he placed his shot into the bottom far corner past the exposed visiting keeper.

Warrilow was full of praise for his two attacking substitutes who played a part in the goal as Ashford United deserved to win by four goals as Hythe Town were awful.

“I’m pleased for Johan because the one before Tommy has put him in but it was a heavy touch.  He’s just not been getting that rub of the green. He’s an honest lad and he works his socks off and he’s a great lad. I’m really pleased because it was a great finish.”

The Ashford United boss added: “Luke Burdon was another one whose come on and just does his job week-in-week-out. He’s come through the club, we’ve played him in a couple of games and I’ve been honest to say to him I don’t think he can start yet but he’s a massive threat that when he comes on and he’s someone after this year he’s going to be a good player.”

It was a sore one for Watt, however.

“I’ve just said to the boys ‘you’ve given up!’

“They got to the first three contacts.  They got the first contact, the second contact and the goal is just not good enough! It’s absolutely schoolboy things. The ball was in the air for a long time, no one comes out to try to win it, the second one, we don’t get to the third one.  We’re trying to play offside. I said to the boys, the players have given up!”

Hythe Town best chance of the game arrived with 33 seconds into stoppage time, a free-kick from 25-yards.

Four-goal leading goalscorer Collin placed his right-footed free-kick around the four-man wall and towards the bottom far corner.  McCarthy got down low to his right to push the ball away but substitute Jared Trespaderne failed to get the rebound on target, nipping in front of his marker to head the ball over the crossbar.

“Frannie’s got good quality from set-pieces, he’s always going to hit the target near enough but it’s too little, too late,” admitted Watt.

Warrilow added: “We said about the set-pieces, we weren’t concerned because at the time we were 4-0 up but we wanted to keep a clean-sheet and we’ve managed to do that today.”

Warrilow, meanwhile, takes his side to bottom-of-the-table Phoenix Sports next Saturday, a side that have now lost 12 games on the spin in all competitions.

Steve O’Boyle replaced Paul Byron last week and his first game back in the Phoenix Sports hot-seat ended in a 3-2 home defeat to Whitehawk today, leaving them on four points from 12 games.

Warrilow said: “I think it was a reasonable crowd today, we’ve got four goals and we’ve kept a clean one and we’ve got a massive three points.  Looking at the results that have gone in today, we get a clear week and go again next week at Phoenix, who have got a new manager and there will be new players and the one thing that I’ve always said to the boys, I’m not really bothered who we play, Hastings, Phoenix or whoever, you treat everyone the same and just concentrate on what we’re trying to do.”

Cray Valley are top of the table with 29 points from 12 games, while the play-off places are being contested by Haywards Heath Town (28 points), Ashford United (26), Ramsgate (23) and Herne Bay (23 and with a game in hand).

There was a rainbow over Homelands Stadium during the half-time interval and Warrilow wants a pot of gold (the league title) come the end of the season.

“The frightening thing is, I know there’s loads more to come,” warned Warrilow.

“I said to the boys in there, I give them a hard time, even though we’ve won 4-0, I said to the boys we should be doing that because we are a good side. We’ve got quite a young side as well, take Liam Friend and Jay May out of it, it’s a reasonably young side so a lot of them are going to be on a learning curve.

“Look, I only want to bang the drum because these boys can have a good career in football if they adapt themselves and put themselves and always want more. That’s what we always say, we’ve won today and next week we go again but I’ll be looking for more off of them.

“I don’t really look at the league, I’m aware of what’s in there but it doesn’t matter. We’ve got to get Christmas and the New Year period out of the way and then have a look at it in January and then have a go.

“Winning today and Hastings the other night when we won 3-1, it’s great for the fans but we haven’t won the league, this (win today) hasn’t won us the league. It’s just another win to go towards winning the league. We’ve only played 12 games, there’s 38 games to play this season so there’s loads of football to play and that’s why we have to calm down when we lose and don’t go over the top when we win but we’ve got to enjoy it as well.”

Haywards Heath Town lost 3-1 at Faversham Town today and welcome this beleaguered Hythe Town side next Saturday, the last of the Cannons’ five away games on the spin.

“We’ve got five away games on the bounce, which is tough on any side. It’s been a tough stretch of games for us.  When we looked at it, we knew it was going to be hard,” admitted Watt, whose side have picked up four points from their last four away trips.

“It’s (Haywards Heath) going to be another tough game away from home but we’ll roll up our sleeves and go down there and try to get a result.”

Ashford United: Tyler McCarthy, Bradley Simms, Mamadou Diallo, Liam Friend, Jack Steventon, Daniel Hull, Josh Wisson, Tashi-Jay Kwayie (Johan Ter Horst 54), Jay May (Luke Burdon 76), Roberto Ratti, Rhyle Ovenden (Tommy Fagg 54).
Subs: Ellis Cormack, Lee Hook

Goals: Daniel Hull 19, Josh Wisson 57, Mamadou Diallo 65, Johan Ter Horst 88

Hythe Town: Henry Newcombe, Liam Smith, Nathan Gordon, Darren Oldaker, Tom Wynter, Scott Doe, Tyler Sterling (Tom Walmsley 61), Bradley Schafer (Jared Trespaderne 75), Frannie Collin, Alex Brown (Jordan Sarfo 61), Charlie Webster.
Subs: Kane Phillip, Jacob Gilbert

Booked: Alex Brown 30, Darren Oldaker 39

Attendance: 410
Referee: Mr Joseph Gray
Assistants: Mr Dele Sotimirin & Mr James Goodman