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Ashford United were somewhat a touch unlucky to slip to a home 2-3 defeat to Phoenix Sports, after more than playing their part in an entertaining match on a freezing cold afternoon at the Homelands.
With snow in the air, the hosts started brightly and probably should have taken the lead with just 50 seconds on the clock, but Dean Grant screwed the ball wide. Grant then forced Phoenix goalkeeper Steve Phillips into a neat save with 10 minutes gone as Ashford continued to press forward.
Then against the run of play the visitors took the lead with a stunning strike from Tony Robinson whose volley rifled past George Kamurasi with 17 minutes gone.
Sid Sollis then let fly from 25-yards out, but with Phillips beaten the ball skimmed off the top of the crossbar. But the Nuts & Bolts persistence paid off when Ola Williams, George McLennan and Sollis combined to set up Grant who poked the ball home from close range in the 21st minute.
Kamurasi was alert to pull off a good save from a close-range header from Danny Young following a neat delivery into the box by Ashley Probets.
Phoenix though restored their lead when Conrad Lee beat the offside trap to shoot towards goal, but despite Kamurasi getting a strong hand on the ball it wasn’t enough to prevent it from creeping home in off the far post.
But five minutes before the break parity was again restored thanks to a delightful free-kick from Sollis from outside the box, which curled into the top right-hand corner of the net.
The second-half saw less in terms of clear cut chances, but Grant did burst into the box before taking a tumble as Ashford appealed without success for a penalty, before being denied by a looping header which bounced off the crossbar.
What proved to be the deciding goal came in controversial circumstances when the referee awarded a penalty to Phoenix after spotting an infringement following a corner-kick, which Probets duly converted.
Youngster Clark Woodcock missed a great opportunity to draw United level again just seconds after coming on for Sollis who was surprisingly substituted.
United finished the game with 10 men following Jahmal Howlett-Mundle’s second yellow card with four minutes left.
As Ashford searched for an equaliser they were nearly caught out at the back but Kamurasi was alert to prevent a fourth goal, then in added time Phoenix perhaps by more luck than judgement cleared the ball off the line in stoppage time.
United, the only side without an away victory thus far, now have three fixtures on the road, before hosting Faversham Town on Easter Monday.
George Kamurasi Ola Williams Malachi Robinson Jon Difford (off 65) Jahmal Howlett-Mundle Will Thomas Jordan Johnson-Palmer Siao Blackwood Dean Grant (off 89) George McLennan Sid Sollis (off 78)
Clark Woodcock * (on 78) Brandon Williams * (on 89) Daniel Ajakaiye * (on 65) Aaron Lee-Wharton (gk)
Steve Phillips Ryan Andrews (off 81) Ashley Probets Jack Hopkins Danny Young Lewis Mingle Conrad Lee Tony Robinson (off 73) Jeff Duah-Kessie Kweku Ansah Kelvin Ogboe (off 90)
Zak Bryon * (on 73) Jonny Miller-Annor * (on 81) Ben Allen * (on 90) Alfie Aldridge
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