Ashford Town 1 Hanwell Town 4
On a day when a somewhat more well-known team playing in light blue shirts lost unexpectedly at The Etihad, Town, playing in their light blue change strip, ended the winning run of Ashford in the less salubrious shadows of the Heathrow kerosene storage tanks. The score-line suggests a comfortable victory but that was not the case. It was a hard-fought encounter with both teams earning the referee’s displeasure on a number of occasions, the tacky pitch leading not helping the timing of tackles.
As early as the third minute Tom Collins got the better of his marker and clipped the ball over the head of the advancing Tyler Tobin in the Ashford goal. It looked to be going in but it bounced off the top of the cross-bar back to Tom, who steadied himself but drove the ball wide. Town were looking extremely dangerous on the break and in the tenth minute Louis Bircham had two good chances. The first was blocked after he had dribbled inside his marker while the second effort went wide after he received a great cross-field ball from Femi Azeez. Two minutes later Tom broke clear but his delayed shot was blocked. One minute later Town went ahead. A Louis Bircham cross found Femi a good distance from goal, from whence he powered a header back across the ‘keeper into the top corner.
As the game progressed both sides were finding it difficult to string passes together but, although Ashford had more possession and better field position, Town continued to threaten on the break. As the first half reached the half-way point Town put together a quick passing move involving Tom, Femi and Harry Rush that finished with the latter player firing disappointingly into the side netting. Shortly afterwards the home side levelled. After Olly had cleared a goal-bound flick off the line a scramble ensued but Hanwell appeared to have cleared their lines. However the home side won the ball back and Jack Beadle seized upon it after Will Wambeek had allowed it to run past him. Beadle’s low shot somehow slipped under Aaron Bufton and into the net to Town’s obvious dismay.
Two minutes after their equalizer Ashford threatened again through Beadle but Calum Duffy saved the day with a timely challenge. The home team continued to dominate possession but were finding it difficult to find a way past the stalwart Hanwell rear-guard. Up the other end Town continued to look dangerous on the break with Tom looking a particular handful. With five minutes to go in the half Olly, who had been using his head to good effect in defence, had a header cleared off the line from a corner. In added-on time both sides had goal-bound efforts cleared off the line. Calum saved the day for Town to deny Mack Bitmead, while, up the other end, Louis Bircham’s flicked-on free kick was similarly blocked on the line.
Hanwell began the second half with Harvey Killeen on for Rhys Paul, whose competitiveness had seen him booked and later lectured by the referee. Within two minutes of the restart the afore-mentioned Harvey was put clear by Femi, but an unfortunate bobble led to a heavy first touch which enabled Tobin to close him down and prevent Town from regaining the advantage. A minute later Tom turned under pressure and fired narrowly wide from twenty yards, after which Louis shot into the side netting after receiving the ball from Harvey. It was a promising start to the half for Hanwell!
The home side gradually came into the half and should have done better when a free header from a corner was headed well wide. Half way through the half Aaron was required to go full stretch to tip away a flicked-on free kick. Then, with seventy-five minutes on the clock, Town went ahead when a well-flighted corner from Louis was met by the head of Femi. Ashford went after an equalizer but Olly, Calum and Harry Tamplin all made notable clearances. Up the other end Tom’s low cross had no takers and a move involving Calum and Femi led to Harvey’s shot being diverted wide. From the resultant corner came a spell of pinball in the area before the ball finished in the back of the net. It transpired that Femi had put it there and completed his hat-trick in the process. Three goals to one and less than ten minutes to play!
Things got even better for Hanwell five minutes from time after Harvey had put Femi through on the left. The man of the moment’s low cross was inadvertently diverted into his own net by Samad Kazi. Game over! After the goal celebrations an even bigger cheer came from the swollen ranks of ‘The Massive’ when Manager Chris Moore sent on Gareth Chendlik and Brian Testolin. Thereafter Gareth’s every touch seemed to be met with roars of approval as he sought a late goal. As it was, the last significant action involved a second excellent save from Aaron to deny Bitmead just before the final whistle. It had been a very good performance with the three points being a particularly nice early Christmas present for the Hanwell faithful.
TEAM: 1.Aaron Bufton 2.Calum Duffy 3.Jack Waldren 4.Olly Duffy © 5.Will Wambeek 6.Harry Tamplin 7.Louis Bircham (14.Brian Testolin 87)8.Harry Rush 9.Femi Azeez 10.Tom Collins (16.Gareth Chendlik 87) 11.Rhys Paul (15.Harvey Killeen 46). Unused substitutes: 12.Devante McKain 17.Malakai Mars.