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Whyteleafe 29/3/14 Won 2-1

Match Report by Kevin Hall posted on 29th March 2014

Leaders lose only for second time as bouyant Ashford record fine victory

Match Stats

Date: Sat 29 Mar 2014

Kick Off: 3.00pm

Match Type: Southern Counties East Football League

Venue: Homelands

Score (FT): 2-1

Score (HT): 1-1

Referee: A Bakalorz

Assistants: D Macleod & Kane Dempster

Bookings:

Ashford:
Yellow Cards: None

Red Cards: None

:
Yellow Cards: None

Red Cards: None

Teams: ASHFORD UNITED
1 Joe Mant
2 Luke Cuthbert
3 Liam Whiting
4 Gary Clarke
5 Jordan Miller
6 Pat Kingwell
7 Dave Cook
8 Ollie Finch
9 Sam Conlon (off 73)
10 Tom Scorer (off 65)
11 Ronnie Dolan

Substitutes (used *)
12 Gary Mickelborough * (on 65)
14 Sam Fisher
15 Ian Wallace
16 Ira Jackson * (on 73)
17 John Harris

WHYTELEAFE
1 Sheikh Ceesay
2 Tommy Smith
3 Alex Penfold
4 Louis Hollongworth
5 Dylan Merchant
6 Jason Thompson
7 Bentley Graham (off 39)
8 Jensen Grant
9 Ryan Fowler (off 73)
10 Sam Clayton
11 Taylor Smith (off 58)

Substitutes (used *)
12 Roscoe Dsane * (on 58)
14 Gareth Williams
15 Greg Andrews
16 Craig Pitterson * (on 73)
17 Cedric Abraham * (on 39)


Attendance: 289

Ashford United made light of their heavy schedule of matches with a deserved 2-1 victory over champions elect Whyteleafe, as the Surrey side had their colours lowered for only the second time this season, in front of a healthy 289 attendance at the Homelands.

Sam Conlon put the hosts in front after 11 minutes, before the leaders struck back seven minutes later, courtesy of an own goal. Ten minutes before the half-time break, Whyteleafe defender Alex Penfold received his marching orders for a clumsy challenge. Then on 83 minutes, United captain Gary Clarke sealed the points with a thunderous shot into the roof of the net.

Since the stunning comeback at Tunbridge Wells the previous Saturday, the gruelling schedule had certainly taken its toll on the Nuts & Bolts and at some cost too. Missing from the line up against the leaders, were Ben Jordan (broken toe), Dan Scorer (broken foot), Adam Cuthbert (suspended) whilst experienced forward duo of James Dryden and Michael Smissen were also absent along with Keiran Byrne.

Despite the adversity of it all, Ashford playing their seventh match inside 15 days started brightly, striking the crossbar in just the third minute. Almost immediately the visitors went on the counter-attack, the move though was ended when Pat Kingwell upended Taylor Smith, which saw the Referee wave an early yellow card in the direction of the big number six.

Not surprisingly, the Leafe, having scored 85 times in 23 matches, looked sharp going forward, Sam Clayton soon drilling one across the goal, but it was Ashford who opened the scoring in the 11th minute. Ronnie Dolan who had an outstanding game hit a low shot towards goal, despite Sheikh Ceesay getting a hand on it, the ball rolled towards the goal and Conlon was quickest to react and ensure it crossed the line, to put the hosts 1-0 in front for his 14th of the campaign.

Twice Tom Scorer came close to doubling the lead, but on 18 minutes it was back level, after Jordan Miller conceded a free-kick near the touch line. The delivery from Thompson curled towards the far post causing confusion and found its way to goal via the head of the unfortunate Clarke. From this point the visitors pressed forward, with Clayton and Bentley Graham giving Ashford much to think about. Mant did well to spread himself to thwart an opportunity from Clayton who had beaten the off side trap. Graham out foxed Liam Whiting to make his way to the by-line as Kingwell was a touch fortunate not to deflect the ball into his own net.

Then came a big moment after 35 minutes, which saw the dismissal of Penfold, after clashing with Conlon, the Referee had no hesitation in brandishing a red card for the challenge on the pacy front man. Despite the gesticulation of his team mates, the colour of the card wasn’t going to change and so the visitors, perhaps a touch unfortunately were reduced to 10 men. Not long afterwards, the dangerous Graham was replaced by Cedric Abraham in a move to shore up the Whyteleafe defence.

Ashford perhaps buoyed by the one man advantage were clearly up for the contest and early into the second period Scorer perhaps should have done better, but his lobbed shot failed to test the keeper. He then combined well with Clarke, only to power a shot wide once more as the pattern of the half started to emerge of Ashford bossing play, creating numerous chances, but guilty of not working the keeper.

It was all hands on deck for the visitors, as Ashford forced a succession of corner kicks, well delivered by Whiting and Dolan respectively, Ceesay punching and palming the ball away when it mattered most, although he was grateful to see a header cleared off the line, during the spell of pressure from the home side.

Ollie Finch from 25 yards let rip and his shot just skimmed inches over the crossbar as Ashford continued to try and press home the advantage. On 59 minutes, a change for the visitors saw the introduction of Roscoe Dsane and straight away he caused problems almost finding the target after a free-kick conceded by Miller, which saw another yellow card for the young defender.

Conlon somehow contrived to miss the target with a header, as Manager Paul Chambers started to become frustrated at the numerous chances being spurned. Although shortly afterwards he did find the net only to see the Assistant Referee flag for offside. Dave Cook, who is yet to find the target for the Nuts & Bolts, fired over the top after being set up well by former Hythe team mate Kingwell.

Eventually Ashford found the killer goal to seal the points, through the hard working Clarke who finished off a great move to make it 11 for the season for the captain. A deft header from Ira Jackson set up fellow substitute Gary Mickelborough-the two goal hero last week at Tunbridge Wells-who with a tricky run squared the ball to Clarke to fire into the roof of the net to make it 2-1 with seven minutes plus stoppage time remaining.

Ashford through Clarke almost increased the lead in the closing minutes after a surging run saw him fire just over from 25 yards, then Jackson had a chance for glory in the second added minute thanks to good work by Luke Cuthbert, but the 17 year-old blazed over.

Ashford were applauded generously as the teams left the field, the title though is surely still Whyteleafe’s to lose as they hold a six point advantage with eight matches remaining. But if somehow that gap can be closed there still might be something at stake for the return clash in Surrey on Easter Monday.

Match Reporter Kevin Hall