Ashford Town (Middlesex)

Ashford Town (Middlesex) vs Farnborough, Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central, 17/04/17, Robert Parker Stadium

I had to resort to pulling names out of a flatcap for this game, as there were far too many in the local area to choose from, I had the options of Staines, Potters Bar, Ashford Town and the Metropolitan Police to name a few. Obviously Ashford Town were the team that I pulled out of the hat, and I began to make my plans to visit the Robert Parker Stadium.

Ashford don’t actually play in Ashford, they play in Stanwell, a nearby village which stands on the south side of Heathrow Airport, making this an easy game to get to, as if there is one thing that Heathrow Airport is, it is well connected. Although my sat-nav had other ideas and it attempted to divert me onto the M4, so I did the sensible thing and ignored it. I pulled up outside of the Robert Parker Stadium around 2.30pm and parked my car on the grass surrounding the ground, as the ground is in the greenbelt they are unable to tarmac the car-park, so if you visit in the winter, it may be sensible to park on the road outside!

Ashford play at the Robert Park Stadium, as I have mentioned in Stanwell, from the ground you can watch planes take off from Heathrow Airport, which is perfect for any plane-spotters that also happen to be groundhoppers! Behind both goals is uncovered hard standing, with the end nearest to the turnstiles, being a single strip of hard standing, this end of the ground is penned in by the petroleum containers which stand next door, and also provide an interesting backdrop to the ground. Behind the other goal is a stretch of four rows of terracing. Next to the turnstiles is a large programme hut, which is well worth a visit, next to this stands the refreshment hut, with the changing rooms tucked behind. On this touchline stands two separate covered stands, one providing seats and the other providing terracing, these stands only reach the halfway line, and the rest of the touchline is uncovered hard standing. On the opposite touchline stands a larger seater stand, which stands on the halfway line, either side of this stand is hard standing, with the remainder of the touchline being uncovered hard standing. Interestingly behind the stand is an old Transit van, which has seen better days.

Ashford were established in 1958 as Ashford Albion, and joined Division Two of the Hounslow & District League, they finished second in their first season, which saw them earn promotion to Division One. In their first season in Division One, they again finished in second place, and earned promotion to the Premier Division, adopting the name of Ashford Town in 1964. However the club pulled out of the Premier Division during the 1964-1965 season, and the first team replaced the reserves in Division Two in the following season. The club were soon back in Division One, as they finished third in Division Two in the 1965-1966 season. For the 1967-1968 season the club joined the Premier Division B of the Surrey Intermediate League (Western) and finished fourth, which saw them promoted to Premier Division A, with the club winning the division in 1975. Ashford were founder members of the Surrey Premier League in 1982, and in 1990 they were formally renamed Ashford Town (Middlesex) to avoid confusion with the Kent club who shared the same name, however this Kent club are now name Ashford United. Also in 1990 they joined the Combined Counties League, and won the league in 1995. They went on to win the league for the next three seasons, and again in 2000, after which they were promoted to Division Three of the Isthmian League. Ashford seem to have a habit of getting promoted in their first season, and did so again as they finished third and were promoted to Division Two of the Isthmian League. In 2002 they moved to Division One South, and in 2004 switched to the Western Division of the Southern League. In 2006, they finished second and were promoted to the Isthmian League Premier Division. In 2010 the club were relegated and were placed in Division One Central of the Southern League, the club were offered a reprieve due to the liquidation of Merthyr Tydfil, but declined this reprieve and started the 2010-2011 season in Division One Central. Ashford were relegated again in 2014, and dropped into the Combined Counties League, in 2016 they finished as runners-up and regained their place in Division One Central of the Southern League.

Farnborough were formed in 1967 as Farnborough Town, and joined the Surrey Senior League in 1968. In 1971 they reached the top division of the Surrey Senior League, and after finishing as runners-up in 1972, they joined the Spartan League, where they went on to win three consecutive league titles, when the league merged with the Metropolitan-London League to form the London Spartan League in 1975, the club were placed in Division One, and were crowned the first champions of this league. The club moved to Cherrywood Road, and moved up to Division Two of the Athenian League in 1976, they won this division at the first attempt, and subsequently joined Division Two of the Isthmian League. During 1973 and 1977 the club went 87 matches unbeaten at home, and won Division Two of the Isthmian League in 1979, and were promoted to Division One. In 1985, the club won the Division One title, and were promoted to the Premier Division, with a further promotion coming in 1989 as they finished as runners-up behind Leytonstone/Ilford but due to Leytonstone/Ilford failing to meet ground grading criteria, Farnborough were promoted to the Conference. Unfortunately Farnborough were relegated during their first season, and were placed in the Premier Division of the Southern League, they were to be back in the Conference at the first attempt as they won the Premier Division at the first time of asking. Again Farnborough were relegated, but once again they bounced back immediately as they won the Southern League Premier Division in 1994, the club lasted five seasons in the Conference before being relegated in 1999. The club joined the Isthmian League Premier Division, and won this competition in 2001, and were promoted back to the Conference. The 2004-2005 season saw Farnborough relegated again, this time joining the Conference South. In the 2006-2007 season the club, unfortunately, entered administration and were deducted ten points as a result, in May 2007 they were expelled from the Conference and reformed as Farnborough Football Club, they were admitted to Division One South & West of the Southern League, which they won at the first attempt, and were promoted to the Premier Division. In 2010 they won the Premier Division and were promoted to the Conference South, in their first season in the Conference South they reached the play-off final, losing to Ebbsfleet United. However the financial problems continued, and in the 2011-2012 season, they were deducted five points, and had ten points deducted the following season, they were relegated to the Premier Division of the Isthmian League in 2015, and were demoted to Division One Central of the Southern League in 2016, due to their financial situation.

Coming into this game, Ashford found themselves in 12th in the league, with their last five games resulting in two wins, one draw and two defeats, with their last game finishing in a 2-2 draw with Aylesbury. Farnborough found themselves in 2nd place, with a play-off place secured, their last five games have resulted in four wins and a draw, with their last game being a 2-1 win over Histon.

I paid £9 to get in today, with a further £2 going to a programme, upon entering the ground the programme seller noticed my Malaga CF shirt, and asked whether I was Spanish, after explaining that Malaga are my Spanish team, I wandered off to the refreshment hut, where I met a Staines Town fan in the queue, I very sheepishly reminded him of his team’s FA Cup win over my, actual, team Shrewsbury Town, and during the wait for food he regaled me with tales of Staines’ FA Cup exploits. Reaching the front of the queue I paid, £3.50 for a can of Diet Coke and a Cheeseburger.

With neither side having much to play for, Ashford Town are assured of their place in this league for next season, and Farnborough are assured of a place in the play-offs, the first half was a bit of a drab affair. There were two highlights for me, one being the Farnborough fans who were in fine voice, and the second being Farnborough’s right back, John Oyenuea, who is an excellent player, and would be well worth a punt by a team higher up the pyramid. Oyenuea is a fantastic right back, with pace and stamina to burn, and his running caused the Ashford defence no end of issues. He also has good positional sense, and he reminded me of Danny Allen Page, back when Allen-Page played for Hayes & Yeading.

The 45th minute saw Farnborough forced into a change, as their number 5, Curtis Osano, went off injured, I suspect he pulled his hamstring, but I’m no expert on these matters. He was replaced by number 14, Charlie Allen. It was at this point that I noticed that Farnborough didn’t have a number 3 on the pitch, instead they had number 15 at left back, and I’m unsure whether CJ Fearn started the game or whether it was Keith Emmerson.

Half Time: Ashford Town 0-0 Farnborough

At half time, I took a walk around to the other side of the ground, and took a place by the away dugout. I was beginning to fear that this would be my first 0-0 draw, something I have managed to avoid for the two seasons I have been writing this blog.

In the 58th minute, Farnborough made their final changes, with numbers 7 and 8, Scott Donnelly and Pat Cox, being replaced by numbers 12 and 14, Perry Coles and Charlie Allen.

Both sides were attacking well, with both sides having good chances to put themselves into the lead, Farnborough were the more dominant side, and with the play-offs approaching didn’t need the points, but instead needed the form to carry into the play-offs.

I needn’t have worried about a 0-0 draw, as in the 66th minute, Ashford’s number 11, Jack Beadle, unleashed an absolutely stunning shot from outside of the area into the top left corner, leaving the Farnborough keeper, Aaron Button, with no chance of getting to the ball. It was a goal against the run of play, but it was well deserved for an Ashford side which had played well during the game

The goal spurred Farnborough into life, and they hit the post shortly after the goal. The mercurial Jamie Cureton also had a good chance, a lobbed shot, cleared off of the line. Farnborough continued to attack well, with Oyenuea continuing to show why I was right to be impressed by him, as he marauded up the right wing, providing a constant threat.

Ashford made a change in the 84th minute, with their number 12, Max Herbert, coming on to replace their number 10, Tommy Brunton.

Despite all of Farnborough’s pressure, Ashford defended well, and deserved the three points when the final whistle blew. A fitting end, seeing as how this was to be Pat Munn’s last game for the club. Pat has long since retired from playing after a long career between the sticks for Ashford, however he remained at the club taken on a variety of roles, including physio. Pat has been with Ashford for fifty years, and it was good to see Ashford win this game to reward Pat’s service in a fitting manner. Congratulations Pat, enjoy your retirement, however I do have a feeling that Pat will be back.

Final Score: Ashford Town 1-0 Farnborough (Beadle 66)

After the final whistle I made my way out of the ground, and back to my car. I didn’t bother with my sat-nav and instead drove the sensible way home which I had already memorized, given the fact I used to travel this way for a while whilst teaching in Feltham.

Three points for Ashford Town sees them remain in 12th in the league, and with only one match left of this season, the highest they can climb to is 9th, and that’s only if results go their way. The lowest they can drop to is 13th, and in all honesty they can count this as a good season, seeing as how this is their first season back at this level. I like Ashford as a club, they are a friendly club in a good location, and I would recommend that if you are nearby that you pay a visit to the Robert Parker Stadium.

Farnborough remain in 2nd, and have secured 2nd place no matter what happens in their last league match of the season. Farnborough will be in the play-offs, and I wish them luck for the play-offs. I’ve visited Farnborough once before, back in the 2003-2004 season, when Shrewsbury were in the Conference, and remember Farnborough as a Conference club, especially as how I also remember that playing Hayes, although I can’t remember exactly when I saw them at Hayes.

On a separate note, Barton are in 3rd in the league, and have secured a play-off place, the lowest they can drop to is 4th, so best of luck to them as well in the play-offs.

Thanks for reading.

Attendance: 217

Cost: £12.50

Movember Total: £28.50 (£50p from today)

Hat-tricks seen so far: 1

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/139632000@N07/albums/72157682732405205

YouTube: https://youtu.be/49y0OZWfaZY (Reminder the gaming videos on this channel contain NSFW language and those that are offended by swearing or violence should avoid these. The groundhopping videos are clean however, mostly clean anyway.)

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