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The predatory instincts of Danny Parish helped Ashford United to a 1-0 victory over East Grinstead Town in near gale force conditions at a very windy Homelands. His goal four minutes from time helping the hosts to three more crucial points, as they continue their quest to finish in the top three of the Isthmian League South East table.
Barely a week goes by without some squad changes and once again the United line-up saw two new players following the arrival of Jake McIntyre, who slotted in at left-back. Whilst Laurent Mendy debuted from the bench, both players having played under Manager Tommy Warrilow at Thamesmead Town, before the demise of the club earlier this season.
There were also three recent familiar names in the Wasps team in former United players, Ben Wilson, Jordan Johnson-Palmer and perennial substitute Matt Day. Then back a little bit further, Orlando Smith scored once in 11 appearances for Ashford Town under Steve Lovell during season 2008-09
The game bore a striking resemblance to that witnessed last week against another mid-table side Ramsgate, with United playing with the wind in the first-half and again being guilty of too many over hit passes. Whilst in the second period they piled on the pressure, but some resolute defending by the visitors held them at bay until all but the 86th minute when the stalemate was broken thanks to the Parish.
Sam Mott had to be alert when he did well to thwart Lee Prescott after a surging run into the box, whilst Parish produced a good swivel and turn before firing over the crossbar. Then almost at half time, Mott raced out of his box forcing Gregory Cundle to poke the ball very wide of the target, but there were very few other noteworthy chances in the opening 45 minutes.
The best chance of the match came a mere 35 seconds into the second-half, but former Hythe Town striker Jerson Dos Santos somehow contrived to fluff his lines with the goal at his mercy when it looked easier to score than miss. Wilson then warmed the hands of Mott with a 25-yard goal bound free-kick, before Parish screwed a good chance wide of the left post for the Nuts & Bolts.
Despite winning a succession of corner-kicks, Ashford were struggling to make the most of the opportunities created, the wind not making it conducive to free-flowing football. Wilson produced a great tackle on Parish as he darted into the box, whilst Mohammed Kamara was denied by a neat save from Luka Nakon as United tried to break the deadlock.
But there was a sting in the tail for the Wasps with the game seemingly heading towards a goalless draw, when Kamara surged in from the right flank, to fire the ball across the goalmouth where Parish pounced at the far post to notch his 17th goal of the campaign. The goal scoring exploits of Parish – who continues to impress – drawing comparisons amongst the fans to that of former favourite Lee McRobert, who first graced the Homelands turf at a similar young age, towards the latter stages of season 1990-91.
With all the sides in the play-off spots winning, it means United remain third in the table, but face a proverbial “six-pointer” next weekend when the travel to Horsham, who lie one point in front. The Nuts & Bolts will be looking for revenge, after letting slip a two-goal lead at the Homelands back in early November, when former player Tyrell Richardson-Brown scored a very late 97th minute winner for the Hornets.
Then in a fortnight the Nuts & Bolts host Guernsey, with fans reminded that the match kicks off at 1 p.m.
Match Reporter Kevin Hall
Sam Mott Jerald Aboagye Jake McIntyre Josh Wisson (off 71) Afolabi Coker Mohamed Kamara Sam Corne Bode Anidugbe Danny Parish Trey Williams Toby Ajala
Stefan Cox Laurent Mendy * (on 71) Kundai Munyama Clark Woodcock
Luka Nakon Jack Bray Ben Wilson Jordan Johnson-Palmer Callum Emptage Mitchell Chapman Leo Mazzone (off 80) Lee Prescott Gregory Cundle Jerson Dos Santos (off 80) Orlando Smith (off 80)
Ollie Boulding* (on 80) Karn Miller-Neave * (on 80) Andrew Cooney Matt Day * (on 80) Marcus Elliott
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