Ashford 0 Greenwich 2

ASHFORD UNITED 0 GREENWICH BOROUGH 2

Southern Counties East Football League

Saturday 23rd April 2016

by John Pease.

This much hyped up end of the season game turned out to be a bit of a damp squib. Greenwich had already been crowned as league champions and Ashford, despite the ten point deduction, were guaranteed third place. This was a game that Ashford never looked like winning although had they succeeded in scoring first it would have boosted the entertainment.

The Greenwich side included two Ashford old boys in the shape of Nathan Paul and Rob Gillman. Both are still class acts. Greenwich may have bought their way to the title but they have bought sensibly and well.

The opening quarter of an hour was a bit tepid although Greenwich managed to force four corners without any end product. Their best moment came when Mohamed Elsa bust through but fired straight at home keeper Dan Cook. At this early stage the Greenwich number four, Peter Sweeney, set out his stall for “gob of the match” but with no other serious takers he lost interest and concentrated on his football. In the 20th minute Ashford’s Chris Saunders picked up a yellow card for a bad tackle. This gave the visitors a sight of goal from the free kick but they only managed to hit the post. Elsa then fired narrowly wide and Dan Cook redeemed his poor clearance by making a good save. Greenwich were still pressing and winning more corners. The unexpected high spot of the first half occurred in the 26th minute. Josh Woolley gathered the ball and sped down the left flank. However, his second touch was too strong and in a desperate attempt to cross the ball he kicked the corner flag which promptly broke. The led to a three minute delay whilst a temporary replacement was fitted – the proper replacement was forthcoming at half time. Ashford won their first corner in the 34th minute but it was Cook to the rescue again when he thwarted Elsa following good work by Sweeney. Things looked a bit better for the home team when Pat Kingwell headed over a corner and then they were awarded a free kick just outside the Greenwich box. Up stepped Woolley to send the ball into space with the regulars asking why Taser Hassan was not give the chance. With the clock showing 45 minutes, and the home side thinking they had reached the half way stage unscathed, Greenwich scored. Elsa won the ball out near the left flank corner flag and passed to an unmarked Patrick O’Connor who gave Cook no chance.

The second period started with Ben Davisson replacing Chris Saunders and Ben Cook making another good save. Greenwich were now the dominant force and Ashford very much on the back foot but they rallied by winning three corners in the 53rd minute. Ryan Palmer had now come on for Josh Woolley and, suddenly, the home attack had some teeth. Then a major problem for Ashford. Pat Kingwell, who had been superb, picked up an injury and had to be replaced by Chris Elliott, but was he match fit? There then followed a fifteen minute spell where Ashford were well and truly under the cosh and keeper Cook came to the rescue time and time again. They managed to ride out the storm and come back mainly thanks to Ryan Palmer who was giving the Greenwich defence something to think about. First he fired narrowly wide from 25 yards then picked out Paul Booth with a fine cross only to see Boothie nod the ball over the bar.

At long last it looked like we might have a game on our hands but Greenwich wrapped up the points, like true champions, in the 76th minute. Charlie Dickens lost control of the ball and Greenwich punished him by playing it through to Mohamed Elsa who made no mistake. Ashford were still trying to pull one back but Greenwich looked comfortable with Palmer bursting forward but failing to finish. Their defence was well trained and looked secure with Gillman, at times, playing as a sweeper at the back. With time running out, Elliott hobbled off injured and reduced to home side to ten men. Thankfully the referee was a bit mingy with time added on so the match finished 2-0 to the visitors. This was my first look at Greenwich this season and I was well impressed as, with nothing to play for, they still dominated the game.

Finally I must say a kind word about the referee (Mr. M. Marsh) and his assistants. They were OK in the first half but excellent in the second. What a pleasant change.

The Ashford team was as follows:-

Dan Cook, George Savage, Charlie Dickens, Luke Cuthbert, Mikey Dalton, Pat Kingwell (Chris Elliott – 56 mins), Chris Saunders (Ben Davisson – 48 mins), Michael Phillips, Josh Woolley (Ryan Palmer – 51 mins) Paul Booth, Taser Hassan.

Subs not used = Tom Fagg and Adam Cuthbert.

The Greenwich team was as follows:-

Craig Holloway, Nathan Paul, Lewis Clark, Peter Sweeney (Scott Kinch – 88 mins), Rob Gillman, Danny Young, Jake Britnell (Ciscei Emsely – 54 mins), Patrick O’Connor, Mohamed Elsa, Michael Power (Tom Youngs – 77 mins), Ryan Johnson.

Subs not used = Ryan Dolby and Yasine Gnamore

Attendance = 201.

Ashford M.O.M. = Dan Cook had a fine match but my vote goes to one of the unsung heroes of the season, Luke Cuthbert. He had a good match but upped this to superb when he covered for the missing Pat Kingwell.