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Four new players made their Ashford United debuts – to take the tally of players used to 40 for a season barely a month old – but it wasn’t enough to prevent the side slipping to their fourth league defeat at home to Molesey.
It was though a much improved performance of late and there are signs of optimism, with the result only settled by a stunning goal 14 minutes from time
Having been hit for six in the FA Cup last weekend at Horsham, United started in lively fashion, with Tyrell Richardson-Brown volleying over the crossbar, before former England Schoolboy Max Watters dinked his way into the box before being denied by keeper Liam Allen.
In a lively first half, Molesey responded through Ashby Charles heading towards goal, only to fluff his lines with just Aaron Lee-Wharton to beat.
The impressive Watters picked out Richardson-Brown, but his header was comfortably caught by Allen, before Antonio Simeone went close for the visitors.
With Pat Kingwell and Jon Difford outstanding in defence the Moles failed to make any real inroads on goal, as Ashford started to dominate in terms of possession.
A piece of creative magic from Michael Phillips set up a marauding Ben Davisson, only to be thwarted by Allen.
Early in the second-half Watters combined well with Matt Day, but the latter was unable to produce a meaningful shot, Day then saw a better effort blocked as the hosts searched for the opening goal.
Brandon Williams after another useful performance hobbled off in the 63rd minute, giving a debut to Caleb Afoke.
As the half wore on, Molesey started to grow into the game and Lee-Wharton did well to pull off a good save to deny Ross Chalke, before diving bravely at the feet of the bulky framed Dre Grobbler.
Lee-Wharton though could do little to prevent the winner, which fairly rifled past him in the 76th minute, when Ronald Sobowale let fly with one of the goals of the season into the top corner of the net.
It was hard lines on United, who had battled and competed well, but ultimately missed that much needed impetus in the final third.
Manager Jason Whitmore in a tough baptism for him will need to rally the troops for two Kent derbies against Ramsgate on Tuesday at the Homelands, before the short trip to Hythe on Saturday.
Aaron Lee-Wharton Morgan Seaman Brandon Williams (off 63) Joe Bingham Jon Difford Pat Kingwell Michael Phillips (off 82) Ben Davisson Max Watters Matt Day (off 79) Tyrell Richardson-Brown
Connor Westney * (on 79) David Botterill * (on 82) Caleb Afoke * (on 63)
Liam Allen Ryan David Ashby Charles Craig Lewington Antonio Simeone Rhys Paul Josh Andrew Ross Chalke Manny Quarshie (off 70) Olu Akinsanya Dre Grobler (off 82)
Ronald Sobowale * (on 70) James King Daruis Hervi * (on 82) Joseph Camara Kashaun McCalla
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