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It end all square after six goals were shared as Ashford United and near neighbours Hythe battled for supremacy in front of 397 hardy souls who had braved the elements on a wet and chilly afternoon at the Homelands.
United – after being thumped for a record breaking nine goals at Cray in midweek – found themselves three up at the break, only for the visitors to break their hearts with a second-half comeback.
United though were grateful to returning goalkeeper George Kamurasi who pulled off a number of good saves as the Cannons dominated the opening half hour.
The fans favourite shot stopper was into the action to deny former team mate Ryan Palmer inside the first 120 seconds. Kamurasi then needed a strong hand to prevent Zak Ansah from opening the scoring, before Jerson Dos Santos went close but a timely deflection saw the ball go past the post.
The visitors were certainly in the ascendancy winning a number of corner-kicks but were unable to find an end product mainly thanks to Kamurasi.
With 31 minutes on the clock the Nuts & Bolts produced a swift move down the right which resulted in Jordan Wright teeing up substitute Brandon Williams who fired beyond Will Godmon for the opening goal.
Williams had entered the fray in just the seventh minute when Max Watters limped out of the action, whilst Wright who made a substitute appearance back in season 2012-13 is on loan from Folkestone Invicta. Watching Invicta Manager Neil Cugley must have been impressed by Wright who had a hand in all three goals and was later announced as the man of the match.
The lead was doubled in the 37th minute with Wright floating in a cross which found Shomari Barnwell who directed his header into the net for 2-0 and notch his seventh goal for the club.
Kamurasi finger tipped a header from Dos Santos over the crossbar which had looked destined for the top corner. Palmer was denied by the woodwork, whilst Keiron Campbell twice went close to scoring when he directed a header straight at Kamurasi, before a header glanced narrowly wide.
The busy Kamurasi was alert to block an effort from Campbell, but it was Ashford who added a third goal in the second minute of injury time at the end of the first-half.
Barnwell battled to win a loose ball in midfield before combining with Wright whose deep cross found an unmarked George McLennan who slid the ball home from close range.
McLennan thought he had added a fourth but was denied by a tight offside flag, before the visitors pulled a goal back from the penalty spot in the 60th minute after the returning Pat Kingwell had tangled with Grant.
Ben Wilson duly sent Kamurasi the wrong way, the hosts then failed to convert two golden opportunities when Barnwell headed too high and Andrew Dalhouse scooped the ball over the crossbar when it looked easier to score.
With eight minutes left Palmer struck a terrific free-kick beyond the reach of Kamurasi, then with 90 minutes on the clock Wilson levelled the scores as the visitors pressed.
It was a nervy five minutes of added time before the final whistle blew at the end of a pulsating 3-3 draw and an entertaining afternoon of football.
George Kamurasi Ola Williams George McLennan Kwabena Osei Jon Difford Pat Kingwell Jordan Wright Joe Bingham Max Watters (off 7) Andrew Dalhouse (off 76) Shomari Barnwell
Matt Day * (on 76) Ryan Richefond Brandon Williams * (on 7, off 89) Gareth Williams Clark Woodcock * (on 89)
Will Godmon Charlie Webster Ben Wilson Ryan Johnson Mitchell Dickenson Chris Kinnear Ryan Palmer Zak Ansah Dean Grant Jerson Dos Santos (off 46) Keiron Campbell (off 71)
Jerald Aboagye * (on 71) Dave Cook * (on 46) Charlie Owen James Nurden
We welcome Thamesmead Town to Homelands for first round Kent Senior Cup action!
We face our Sussex opponents on 25th August
The gaffer sings high praises of the team and support
Replica kits, training kits, casual wear and more, all available to buy online!
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