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Erith Town 5/4/14 Drew 1-1

Match Report by Kevin Hall posted on 5th April 2014

Ten man Ashford battle hard in controversial encounter to earn a point

Match Stats

Date: Sat 5 Apr 2014

Kick Off: 3.00pm

Match Type: Southern Counties East Football League

Venue: Badgers Sports Ground, Eltham

Score (FT): 1-1

Score (HT): 0-1

Referee: Kane Dempster

Assistants: Mike Ingram & Matthew Mace

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 (off 86)
9 Sam Conlon (off 80)
10 Gary Mickelborough (off 64)
11 Ronnie Dolan

Substitutes (used *)
12 Ian Wallace
14 Sam Fisher * (on 86)
15 Adam Cuthbert (on 80)
16 Michael Smissen * (on 64)
17 Paul Chambers

ERITH TOWN
1 Steve Phillips
2 Lee Coburn
3 Danny Moore (off 78)
4 James Holder
5 Steve Newman (off 86)
6 Alan Matthews
7 Russell Bedford
8 Aaron Jeffrey
9 Richard Stevens (off 60)
10 Kofi Quartey
11 Lee Conrad

Substitutes (used *)
12 Joe Nwoko * (on 60)
14 Danny Akers * (on 86)
15 Ben Yiadom * (on 78)
16 Adam Woodward (gk)


Attendance: 66

It was a bridge too far for Ashford, as their fourth match in eight days, ended all square at 1-1 at Erith Town, though the clash which featured three penalties was shrouded in controversy. Centre-back Pat Kingwell was bizarrely dismissed on the stroke of half-time, as Ashford collected their 10th red card since the turn of the year.

Certainly the rub of the green seems to be against the Nuts & Bolts, when the two sides lock horns, with five of the dismissals having come against Erith, the previous four, coming in the two legged league cup clash in January. The red card was certainly one of several major talking points from the all important Southern Counties East League clash. Only Referee Kane Dempster knows what he saw when he pointed to the penalty spot after brandishing a red card on the stroke of half-time.

Considering the injustice, Ashford did well to collect a point from the match, but had Joe Mant to thank for brilliantly saving a second spot kick awarded to the home side, before Dave Cook converted from 12 yards in the third penalty of the game.

Having drawn level on points with Whyteleafe on Thursday evening with a 4-0 win at Sevenoaks, it was Ashford who enjoyed the better of the chances during the first-half. However, on a difficult and bumpy playing surface, shots on target were at a premium with neither keeper really tested in open play.

Erith did put the ball in the back of the net inside the first two minutes, but the Assistant Referee flagged for a clear offside. It was to prove one of few efforts at goal for the home side, leaving the Ashford supporters wondering quite how the Eltham based outfit, had done United a favour by putting five past the league leaders in midweek.

Ashford were showing good movement upfront and twice Gary Mickelborough did well to cross towards Sam Conlon, but on both occasions, his strike partner headed over. Ashford always looked the more dangerous side and on 28 minutes, Mickelborough again beat his main, but his low cross was cleared from danger by the impressive Russell Bedford. Shortly afterwards it was the turn of Ronnie Dolan to shot from around 22 yards after receiving a neat lay off from Conlon.

Liam Whiting then showed good trickery and skill to set up Conlon, but again he was unable to add to his 14 goal tally by shooting over the bar. It was therefore against the run of play that the home side received a great slice of luck when the penalty was awarded after 45 minutes.

A free-kick was pumped into the Ashford box by Bedford and it all looked very innocuous as Kingwell attempted to clear the ball away from the danger area. But suddenly Mr Dempster became the centre of attention, rushing towards the big number six to wave a red card in his face and point to the spot.

Despite Mant guessing correctly, Aaron Jeffrey gleefully put his side in front in the first added minute of stoppage time at the end of the first-half. So having bossed the first 45 minutes, Ashford were aghast to find themselves behind as the whistle blew, with the game plan out of the window and the side forced to play the remainder of the match with 10 men, something sadly they are getting used to.

Controversy number two followed early in the second-half, after Conlon had chased down a ball only to commit a foul, but then Danny Moore lashed out at him. Surely a card would be produced to the home number three for retaliation but on this occasion the Referee didn’t even speak to him. Indeed twice more during the half, Moore was lucky to escape a card and was sensibly substituted later in the match.

After 60 minutes, Erith were awarded a second penalty, when Whiting felled fleet footed Jeffrey, who once again took the spot kick, but this time he was denied by Mant. Despite hitting it hard and low, Mant with strong hands, not for the first time this campaign was the saviour to prevent the lead from being doubled, diving to his left to add another spot kick save to his impressive CV. In total including penalty shoot-outs, the young goalie has now saved seven spot-kicks, so far this term.

On 64 minutes Michael Smissen replaced Mickelborough and straight away caused problems inside the home penalty area, as within a minute, handball was committed, with Moore once again the culprit and so for the third time in the match, Mr Dempster pointed to the spot. Up stepped Cook fresh from his two goals at Sevenoaks to fire home from 12 yards and bring Ashford back on level terms.

Shortly afterwards Conlon reacted well after a quickly taken free-kick to skim the ball just over the bar from a tight angle. Whiting then fired at home goalie Steve Phillips from a free-kick on the edge of the box before Smissen was only inches away from connecting with a flying header, after a good move involving Cook and Gary Clarke.

Substitute Joe Nwoko on for the home side, gave them more impetus up front, but he too was guilty of spurning two good chances, as was Kofi Quartey who should have hit the target from around 12 yards in the best chance for Erith. Ashford though, despite the better share of play, continued to be indecisive from free-kicks, Ollie Finch guilty at least twice of poor delivery into the box, which seemed to sum up an afternoon of frustration.

The introduction of Smissen with his neat movement had proved a headache for the home side, particularly for former United player Lee Coburn, whose subtle use of arms and elbows on him was missed by the match officials on more than one occasion. None more so than in the final minute of the match when Smissen fell to the ground, claiming use of elbows by the home right back. The incident though was not seen by the officials, as tempers flared after the final whistle blew.

The sides still have to meet for a fifth time this season at Homelands in the league encounter in 10 days time, Ashford knowing that Erith truly are a hard nut to crack.

Match Reporter Kevin Hall