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It was Good Friday joy for Ashford United, as they secured their place in the end of season play-offs thanks to a 3-1 win at the Homelands against VCD Athletic. The visitors though more than played their part in an entertaining encounter and still harbour outside thoughts of grabbing a play-off spot, but in the end United proved too strong.
It was though the Vickers who struck first when defender Junior Baker headed home the opening goal from a corner with just 74 seconds on the stopwatch. Parity was restored after eight minutes when newcomer Lee Prescott slotted home from around 12-yards, to open his account for the Nuts & Bolts, after a burst of speed down the right-flank by Jerald Aboayge.
United continued to press forward with Josh Wisson firing narrowly wide, before Jay May worked the goalkeeper. Danny Parish was lucky to escape injury after an agricultural Sunday League challenge by Jack Steventon, who somehow escaped with just a yellow-card.
The Nuts & Bolts took the lead after 36 minutes, when May fired into the roof of the net, with VCD chasing shadows after a good passage of passing by the hosts, Toby Ajala cut to the byline, to pick out May who duly applied the finish.
Ashford nearly added a third goal when Parish saw a good effort saved by Matt Funnell in the third minute of injury time at the end of the first-half.
United continued in the ascendancy in the second period, VCD surviving after 51 minutes when Kamara pinged the ball into the danger area, which ended with Vickers left-back Dominic Odusayna hitting the crossbar.
United had a goal chalked off for offside and Parish saw a 65th minute penalty saved by Funnell, but with 14 minutes remaining, Parish showed his class to make it 3-1 when he notched his 20th goal of the season.
United had further chances when Parish headed wide and Jake McIntyre let fly but Funnell pulled off a good stop. VCD saw substitute Malachi Hudson screw a shot wide, which might have caused some late nerves for Ashford.
Then in the fourth added minute at the end of the game Parish saw another header go just inches past the post, before the whistle blew to much delight just moments later.
The win took United to third, but this was only for 24 hours as Hastings comfortably beat Sittingbourne 3-0 a day later. All this means that the Hastings v United clash on Easter Monday is almost certain to the decided as to which of the pair finish 3rd and 4th in the table and who will host the play-off clash on Monday 29th April.
Match Reporter Kevin Hall
Sam Mott Jerald Aboagye Jake McIntyre Josh Wisson (off 84) Afolabi Coker Mohamed Kamara Bode Anidugbe Lee Prescott Jay May (off 84) Danny Parish Toby Ajala
Trey Williams * (on 84) Laurent Mendy * (on 84) Kundai Munyama
Matt Funnell Bradley Sims (off 54) Dominic Odusayna Junior Baker Temi Eweka Jack Steventon Jack Gaggin (off 75) Alastair Gordon Ali Fuseini Charlie Macdonald Aymum El-Hoyhalbel (off 56)
Ricardo Joseph * (on 54) Liam Rosenfield (18) Joe Denny Malachi Hudson * (on 56) Usman Adeniji * (on 75)
Our penultimate home match of the season!
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