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AUFC v Rochester United

Match Report by Denise Peach posted on 16th November 2014

Fantastic Fight Back to WIN 4-3

Match Stats

Date: Sat 15 Nov 2014

Kick Off: 3.00pm

Match Type: Southern Counties East Football League

Venue: Homelands

Score (FT): 4-3

Score (HT): 1-2

Referee: Unknown

Assistants: Unknown


Yellow Cards: None

Red Cards: None

Yellow Cards: None

Red Cards: None

Teams: n

Attendance: 209

Southern Counties East League
Saturday 15th November 2014
by John Pease.

Ashford broke their long winless streak at Homelands this afternoon but it wasn’t easy and, at times, it was far from impressive.
The home line-up included new boys Lee Pleau from Hythe and Darren Marsden from Faversham plus a welcome return to the colours of Liam Whiting wearing the number eight shirt.
On a heavy but playable pitch Darren Marsden nearly made a dream début when, in the very first minute, he seized on a poor clearance from visiting keeper Dan Ellis but narrowly missed the unguarded net from 25 yards. There was little to choose between the two teams in in opening quarter of an hour although Lee Pleau picked up a yellow card in the 10th minute for shirt pulling and had to be very careful for the rest of the game. Even at this early stage the Ashford defence looked suspect as there rarely seemed to be more than three at the back. This dangerous ploy was to prove expensive. With the twenty minute mark approaching Joe Mant made a good save from Michael Hurcumb and then Liam Whiting tried his luck from 30 yards bringing an unpunished fumble from Ellis. However, with 22 minutes gone Rochester took the lead when a long cross from the right found the unmarked Hurcumb who headed strongly past Mant. Ashford appeared to have no shape or obvious game plan and their equaliser five minutes later came as a surprise. Stuart Zanone was playing wide right in an attempt to get the ball and when he was released his wicked cross into the Rochester box was sliced into his own net by the unfortunate Reece Gillies. Two minutes later Tom Scorer went close from 20 yards but Ashford still looked unbalanced at the back and were further punished in the 37th minute when an unmarked Hurcumb headed in from a corner. The home side were now looking like eleven strangers on a train without the direction of Alfred Hitchcock (one for the film buffs) but half time arrived without further damage although Lee Winfield picked up a yellow for a dodgy tackle.
A massive improvement was needed from the home side in the second period and although Zanone went close in the 48th minute, Rochester increased their lead when yet another unmarked attacker headed a good cross past Mant. Things were now looking grim for the boys in green and one suspected it was squeaky bum time on the bench. Something special was needed and it came in the shape of Gary Mickelborough who replaced a tiring Tom Scorer on 54 minutes. (Tom had only started the game because Andy Irvine broke down in the pre-match warm up.). Gary went straight out on to the right flank and immediately made an impact by running at defenders and forcing a loose ball to land at the feet of Stuart Zanone who beat Ellis from 18 yards. Ellis was so upset that he picked up the ball and kicked it out of the ground with rare accuracy. This earned him the silliest yellow card since someone called top referee Pierluigi Collina “baldy”. Credit to Rochester who were not content to sit on their lead resulting in a more even end to end game. On the hour mark Gary Clarke went close and two minutes later Rochester’s Ricky Gundry fired wide. Then it was the turn of home keeper Mant to make a smashing save. Almost at once visiting forward Vince Collins picked up a yellow card for a silly foul on Mant and we had hardly got over that when Ashford equalised in the 67th minute. Another good move involving Mickelborough and Clarke produced an inch perfect pass to Zanone who outstripped two defenders before slotting the ball past Ellis. Although Ashford have become the league’s draw specialists this game never looked like ending all square as the home side were, at last, looking the more dangerous. Marsden went close in the 70th minute and Ashford had a good penalty claim rejected eight minutes later. Then it was the turn of Zanone to fire wide from a good position.
With eight minutes remaining Ashford scored the winning goal. Mickelborough forced a corner following more forceful running and from the resulting kick flicked the ball past Ellis at the hear post. Chambo then played the substitute game to use up time and this saw Ashford safely home for a hard fought victory but I could not argue with the Rochester official who said he thought his lads deserved a point.
Ashford now have a very strong looking squad with the two new boys looking good and returnee Liam Whiting putting in a most impressive stint. However, we must sort out our tactics and defensive shape. Four at the back should look like four at the back and not three with one a.w.o.l.
The Ashford team was as follows:-
Joe Mant, Adam Cuthbert, Luke Cuthbert, Lee Winfield, Lee Pleau, Pat Kingwell, Gary Clarke, Liam Whiting (Liam Walsh – 92 mins), Stuart Zanone, Darren Marsden (Buster Smissen – 88 mins), Tom Scorer (Gary Mickelborough – 54 mins).
Subs not used = Charlie Dickens and Lloyd Blackman.
Attendance = 209
M.O.M.? = Several good individual performances despite the lack of shape at times (Darren Marsden, Lee Winfield and Gary Mickelborough) but my vote goes to Stuart Zanone who scored two goals and forced another via the OG route.