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21/3/17 Hollands & Blair Won 3-1

Posted in on 22nd March 2017

Title charge back on track as United cruise to victory

Match Stats

Date: Tue 21 Mar 2017

Kick Off: 7.45pm

Match Type: Southern Counties East Football League

Venue: Homelands

Score (FT): 3-1

Score (HT): 2-1

Goalscorers (Ashford): Joe Vines (15), Shaun Welford (18), Ryan Palmer (65)

Goalscorers (Hollands & Blair): Bradley Webb (45)

Referee: Craig Burton

Assistants: Ollie Smith & Bo Wang

Bookings:

Ashford:
Yellow Cards: Jason Goodchild (88), Ryan Palmer (89), Stuart West (90+2)

Red Cards: None

Hollands & Blair:
Yellow Cards: Louis Valencia (42)

Red Cards: None

Teams:

Ashford United

George Kamurasi
George Savage
Joe Vines (off 56)
Richard Avery (off 46)
Stuart West
Pat Kingwell
Ryan Palmer
Ben Davisson
Shaun Welford
Jason Goodchild
Rory Hill



Substitutes

Clark Woodcock
Luke Eldridge (on 46)
Adrian Stone
Danny Lye (on 56)
Aaron Lee-Wharton (gk)

Hollands & Blair

Shaun Wicks
Jack West
Lewis Taylor
Tom Michelson
Ben Brown
Thomas Staff
Anthony Jeffers (off 59)
Louis Valencia
Bradley Webb (off 77)
Gary Lockyer
Jack Simon



Substitutes

Joe Jarvis
Archie Miller (on 77)
George Blake (on 59)
Tom Montgomery
Bailey Pearce

Attendance: 193

Ashford United returned to the top of the Southern Counties East table as they cruised to a 3-1 victory to complete the league double over Hollands & Blair at Homelands.

The win made even more the sweeter on hearing the news that Croydon had surprisingly returned from East Sussex with a 1-0 success at Crowborough Athletic, which leaves the race for title once again wide open.

Having won 3-0 at Star Meadow back in September, United had already seen Rory Hill hit the post, before Joe Vines gave the hosts the opening goal with 14 minutes 23 seconds on the clock, following a foul on Ryan Palmer by Louis Valencia.

Despite keeper Shaun Wicks getting a hand on the ball, Vines powerful downward header was strong enough to find the net from a well delivered Ben Davisson free-kick into the box.

Vines 15th minute opener was followed by a 38th goal of the season from Shaun Welford just three minutes and 30 seconds later, to give Ashford the cushion of a two-goal lead.

Hill played the ball across goal into the path of Welford who fired home a rebound from a tight angle after Wicks had saved the initial shot.

United never really looked back after that going close to adding to the tally as Hill twice drew Wicks into good saves, whilst Stuart West picked out Welford at the far post, but on this occasion he was unable to find a connection.

George Kamurasi raced from his goal to deny former United striker Gary Lockyer with a good one-on-one, to win the battle of the two big men.

Valencia tried the patience of the referee once too often when he received a yellow card in the 42nd minute after a succession of poor challenges.

The resultant free-kick was well struck by Ryan Palmer and looked destined for the bottom corner, but Wicks – in a man of the match performance for the Blair -pulled off a terrific low save.

Then in the final minute of the opening half Blair grabbed a goal back, with Bradley Webb finishing well after the hosts had failed to clear their lines following a free-kick from Jack Simon into the danger area.

At the half-time interval Luke Eldridge replaced Richard Avery, and he had an early opportunity to find the net, but was always stretching and couldn’t get the required purchase on the ball to get enough power behind his effort.

Vines then worryingly limped off in the 56th minute, to give a rare outing these days for manager Danny Lye on the field.

A good spell of possession was rewarded when the visitors static defence was caught napping by a great cross field pass from Hill which picked out Palmer on the right-side.

The lively number seven – currently in a rich vein of form – cut inside before firing low and hard from the edge of the box past the outstretched hand of Wicks, to notch his second in four days and his 11th goal of the campaign.

Welford was prevented from adding a fourth for the hosts when the overworked Wicks palmed away a good header after United had won a number of free-kicks, with the Blair unable to cope with the pace of the Ashford front line.

Much travelled marksman Lockyer – nine goals in 21 appearances with United – was twice denied by Kamurasi in quick succession. Valencia picking him out with a good through ball but the Ashford custodian was alert to the danger to pull off another one-on-one save, before thwarting Lockyer’s angled shot from 12-yards out.

There was little of note after that with United seemingly happy to keep possession and settle for three goals, although it all got a bit scrappy towards then end with a few poor tackles flying around.

Valencia getting away without a second-yellow card after an agricultural challenge and then the ref went card crazy , booking Jason Goodchild, Palmer – with a very harsh one – followed by West.

The late cards shouldn’t take away from the fact, that this was a comfortable victory over fifth placed Blair and was a good response following the setbacks in the matches with Bearsted & AFC Croydon Athletic.

The three goals scored took the total league goals for the season to 97 which is a best for United after surpassing the 96 scored in season 2014-15, when the side finished as runners-up under Paul Chambers.

There could well be some fitness worries ahead of the difficult trip to third place Sevenoaks Town on Saturday, whilst the match sees the start of suspensions for keeper Kamurasi and defender West following their dismissals at Bearsted.

Match Reporter Kevin Hall