Hanwell Town 2 Ashford Town 2
By Clive Cooke
Hanwell denied by last gasp equaliser
For the third of our four league games to date, we were left to reflect on what might have been as our opponents, Ashford Town (Middx), equalised deep into injury time to gain a hard earnt point in a game that was pleasing on the eye with both sides trying to play football on a pitch that seems to be in pristine condition.
Our side showed just two changes from the side that had drawn at Potters Bar Town just seventy two hours previously. Joe Chandiram came in for his first start of the season to replace Michael Buckley, still struggling to get over a recent injury whilst Sam Hurrell replaced Anton Robinson out on the left flank.
Ashford were the better side in the opening fifteen minutes and might well have taken an early lead. In the seventh minute, the normally so reliable Melvin Minter fumbled a free kick driven by Mark Bitmead straight at him but he quickly recovered as the ball was scrambled clear. A good movement then set up a goal scoring chance for Jack Beadle but he drove the ball well wide. A mistake by Oliver at the back then let in Dan Fleming but his first touch was too heavy and Melvin was quickly off his line to clear. Melvin was again in action almost immediately racing to kick clear a short back pass by Bradley Simmonds with Fleming bearing down on him.
We then had the best chance of the game to date when a precision free kick by Sam Hurrell found Oliver coming into the box completely unmarked but he headed the ball high and wide.
We were now getting a foothold into the game playing some very neat approach work but without testing Tyler Robin between the sticks for the away team. A shooting chance for Fleming at the other end saw the ball deflected wide for a corner from which Joe had to clear at the near post. With nine minutes to the interval we took the lead. A strong run by Kyle Watson down the left culminated in him driving the ball across the goalmouth. It seemed a simple take for Robin but he fumbled the ball into the path of James Simmonds who hooked the ball into the net from point blank range. We suffered a blow in the final minute of the half when Bradley Simmonds limped off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury to be replaced by Anton Robinson. Just before the whistle was blown another storming run by Kyle set up James but his ambitious chipped shot from range saw the ball nestle on the top of the goal net.
Ashford were on top straight after the interval and Beadle should have done better than to drive the ball into the side netting from a tight angle rather than pulling the ball back into the path of better placed players. Tyler Christian-Law then became the the first of three of our players to be booked all three of them for the same offence, that of kicking the ball away. In a similar vein to the first half we then began to enjoy a greater amount of the game, playing some good football, but without creating any clear cut chances. Ashford should then have equalised when a low cross by Bitmead found Bayley Mummery completely unmarked at the far post but he side footed the ball wide of an empty net. On the hour mark, Tom O'Regan replaced Joe, who had enjoyed a good hour in the centre of our midfield, and this substitution almost had an immediate effect when an inswinging free kick by Tom almost found the far corner of the net, Robin turning it away with his finger tips and then from Tom was headed goalwards by Mark Jamison only for Robin to scramble the ball clear again. James then cutting in side across the Ashford penalty area fired just over the bar.
It was, therefore, somewhat against the run of play at this stage of the game, when Ashford equalised in the sixty fifth minute. A fierce cross shot from Beadle was deflected onto our crossbar and the ball fell to the feet of Mummery with the goal at his mercy, Kyle had little option but to bring him down and Bitmead stepped up to beat Melvin from the resultant spot kick.
Play swung from end to end with both sides going for the winner and chances were created at both ends, Anton firing over the bar at one end after he had been set up by Calum and than at the other end Melvin turned a good effort from Tommy Brunton over the bar.
With seven minutes to go, Kyle, who had been a constant threat with his strong runs down our left flank, cut inside onto his less favoured right foot and his cross was deflected off the head of Ashford's Romario Jonas wide of the stranded Robin to put us back in the lead. Ashford immediately brought on two attacking options but we looked firmly in control with Melvin not troubled at all but with the game deep into injury time, we lost the ball deep inside their half and the ball was played forward onto the path of Bitmead who finished clinically driving the ball across Melvin into the far corner of our net, much to the delight of his team mates and the Ashford supporters !. Six points from four league games and still unbeaten is not a bad start to the season but how much better it would have been had we been able to turn any of those draws into a win.