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Ashford Town (Middx) 3-1 Kingstonian

Two late goals saw Kingstonian unable to hold on to a draw as they started their Ryman Premier campaign with a short trip to Ashford.

With the referee constantly blowing his whistle Ks were unable to play their normal flowing game and it was not until Lewis Cook stepped up, after Dean Lodge was bought down, that they managed to restore parity. 25 yards out Cook fired a looping curler into the near post with the keeper Craig Ross unsighted by his own defensive wall shortly after the restart.

Teammates congratulate Lewis Cook
Photo: Chris Hatton - Kingstonian FC

In fact the visitors began the game brightly, buoyed by a large away contingent in the 342 crowd, and after Jamie Beer had hooked a cross away from Warren Harris in the first minute, the action was able to get to the Ashford goal area.

Debutant Steve Tyson crossed in from the left to Carl Wilson-Denis who headed the ball onwards and just past the far post. Then Ross had to pull off another save with Lodge heading in as he picked up a cross along the goal line from Ryan Lake.

A minute later Cook blasted over from a 35 yard free kick and that was as good as it got with the referee stopping the game with a series of free kicks. From the next one Billy Jeffrey's could not climb high enough and saw his header go over the bar.

And so the free kicks continued with only one booking - and that was when the home side's skipper Paul Johnson kicked the ball into the stand after the whistle had been blown. Bobby Traynor's left sided free kick went straight into the defence and rebounded away.

Within minutes another free kick in a more dangerous position after Adam Thompson bought down the dangerous Harris in a more central position. The free kick went straight towards a crowded area and the timely right leg of Wayne Finnie saw the danger averted as he kicked it away from the area.

However the tide was turning and from another free kick - this time out on the left - and once again taken by Harris saw a mighty scramble in the goal mouth with the Ashford players then celebrating from Scott Weight's header. After an inordinate amount of time with the referee talking to his linesman the goal was given.

At the other end a long run up the left by Lodge ended in the inevitable lazy tackle, by Jeffreys, and a free kick. Lake's long range shot went sailing past the far post. Then a long low shot by Johnson saw Luke Garrard gratefully watching the ball go wide through yet another crowded area.

Dean Lodge in action
Photo: Chris Hatton - Kingstonian FC

Minutes later he pulled off a great save as he dived to the right and denied Byron Harrison. And in injury time Wilson-Denis ensured first half would end with a fizzle after a lengthy malaise when he turned on his right to hit over the bar from Beer's cross.

The second half then continued in the same vein and quickly Cook restored parity from a free kick after Lodge was brought down.

Lewis Cook scores from a free kick
Photo: Chris Hatton - Kingstonian FC

However within minutes the game was halted for four minutes when a clash of head by Tyson and Lake saw them both on the ground. With both physios on, it was Lake who got the battering as Tyson soon regained his feet. Lake was taken to the side and had his head heavily bandaged - not that it stopped him from heading the ball throughout the remainder of the game.

From the restart Ricardo Johnson miskicked a ball in front of goal and then Traynor's shot the other end hit the far upright. Simon Huckle picked up the rebound only to shoot over the bar.

Without the first half's constant stoppages the second half began to ebb and flow with Ashford trying to exert some pressure. And with on the hour another chance saw an effort from Wilson-Denis go wide before immediately at the other end Garrard jumped on a ball from Harrison. Minutes later Harrison was denied again as he pounced on another shot: this time from Hone Fowler.

Tyson was then taken off and Tommy Williams bought in as the team tactics were re-jigged. But it was Ashford who were on the ascendency as Joseph crossed in to Harrison, only for his header to go just over the bar. Another change saw Liam Collins come on for Traynor. But once again it was Ashford who made most of the change when Harrison danced his way around the defence and then rounded Garrard to put the ball into the back of the net. This time there was no need for any discussion.

Luke Garrard challenges Byron Harrison
Photo: Chris Hatton - Kingstonian FC

Sensing defeat Ks moved up a gear. Within a minute Williams shot wide and then Huckle's flick had the goal keeper diving frantically for the ball from a long throw in by Finnie. Lodge was then denied by the upright and Williams was unable to make anything of the rebound.

With so much of the action at one end, Ashford then scored from the classic counter-punch when Joseph broke away from the defence and found Scott Harris was able to slot in from close range deep into a lengthy injury time.

It is hard to make a judgement from just one competitive game and while the defeat was probably a reflection on the game's flow, the margin was harsh. However, with two shots hitting the upright, it could have been a different result on another day.

Sat 15th Aug 2009
Short Lane
Isthmian League Premier
Ashford Town (3
1Luke Garrard
2Jamie Beer
3Ryan Lake
4Adam Thompson
5Wayne Finnie
6Simon Huckle
7Dean Lodge
8Steve Tyson12
9Bobby Traynor14
10Carl Wilson-DenisCautioned
11Lewis Cook
12Tommy Williams8
14Liam Collins9
15Jon Coke
16Neil Lampton
17Josh Willis
Match Report By
Michael Underwood