Report: Ashford United 0-0 Whyteleafe
After a cracking start to the season Ashford have slipped down the league in recent months, which saw the departure of Leafe old boys Antonio Simeone and Lanre Azeez to Tooting and Mitcham and Hastings United, respectively and a change of manager seeing ex-Thamesmead and Cray Wanderers boss, Tommy Warrilow take over from Gary Alexander.
So, Ashford came into the game on a high after four wins in a row, while The Leafe were unbeaten in three, both teams on the up again.
As a spectacle, the game really didn’t live up to expectations sadly with both teams wary of each other and pretty much cancelling each other out. Both sides enjoying spells of dominance but neither being able to find the goal the game badly needed.
The weather did its best to spoil the match with periods of torrential rain but it didn’t stop the Leafe fans getting behind the lads who tried everything they could to get the breakthrough with some stand-out performances from the likes of Matt O’Donoghue, Bradley Wilson, Ricardo Thompson and Marvin Armstrong.
Our Marv has been putting in some excellent shifts lately that has seen him score two of the goals of the season and there aren’t many better exponents of the art of dribbling with a football than him while his link play between the midfield and forwards is often overlooked.
With Bentley Graham suspended two things stood out. One is the difference he makes and secondly, how well his debut-making seventeen-year old replacement, Emmanuel Maga, did (his brother Joe plays for Sunderland in Division One, incidentally). It took him a while to get into the game but a couple of pinpoint long passes he made in the second half would have made the master of such things, Bentley proud.
Both teams tried their best to create chances on the greasy 3G surface and until they seemed to run out of ideas, Ashford look a useful, combative side. The spoils should have gone to The Leafe though as a free-kick from Brad Wilson in the dying minutes of the game, took a wicked deflection that looked goal-bound. Just as the petit and bijou Leafe contingent were about to celebrate, Ashford keeper Sam Mott pulled off a wonder save. Not quite as good as the one Corinthian Casuals stopper Bradley Comins made against us in the cup, but a special one all the same.
It was surprising that with sixteen minutes to go when Corey Holder got his marching orders, Ashford seemed to settle for the draw rather than go for the win, with The Leafe seeming to be the team most likely to score.
The game also threw a spanner into the works with Corey Holder’s sending off. If the prospect of losing one of our quality centre backs for a match isn’t bad enough, his defensive partner and captain, Nathan Campbell, will also miss the next few games due to the long-awaited operation on his injured thumb. Get well soon, Nath.
Missing one of those two is bad enough but the thought of both of them being absent will be giving Leafe boss Harry Hudson a few headaches, with the tough home league game against Hythe coming up next Saturday (December 15 – Church Road 3pm), but hey, ‘Harry Knows’!
1 Tyler McCarthy 2 Brad Wilson 3 Matt O’Donoghue 4 Nathan Campbell (captain) 20 Ricardo Thompson 6 Corey Holder 7 Harrison Carnegie 8 Emmanuel Maga 9 Lauris Chin (sub. David Owusu 59’) 10 Marvin Armstrong 11 Arif Hattabi (sub. Nick Akoto 84’)
Subs not used: 12 Harvey Bland 16 Valentino Carpene 18 Kyew Nicholas