Coastal path smoothed by Holland’s fine strike
RYAN HOLLAND grabbed a winner on the south coast to earn injury-hit Ashford men a rare South Premier Two triumph at Eastbourne.
It was an excellent 1-0 win from the Short Lane outfit even though it was not without its problems.
Key defender Elliot Smith soon joined the growing list of absentees, being forced to retire with a hamstring strain. Joe Lewis and Dan Holland were already sidelined.
Throw in the absence of Piers Du Boulay and the squad was considerably weakened.
This did not faze Ashford as after around 15 minutes substitute Ryan Holland heroically deflected in Shujah Ur Rehman's powerful pass at the far post with his first touch of the game. It was his first goal of the season.
Ashford could have been three or four up at the break but for great reflexes from the Eastbourne keeper which prevented Alex Betts and ur Rehman from converting big opportunities.
In the second half, Ashford dug a trench as they were pinned back and scrapped – managing to repel an onslaught from a remarkable 14 Eastbourne short corners.
The visitors did not help themselves when they went down to nine men at one point after picking up two silly yellow cards but they prevailed.
Skipper Luke Cottrell declared: “There was a change in the air in the dressing room.
“Everyone believed that we were going to win and it really showed in the spirited performance.
“This is a great platform for us to start climbing the table from now on.”
Ashford ladies first XI thrashed NPL 11-0 in a one-sided affair.
A quick free hit taken by Nicky Benedict at the top of the D saw her open the scoring. The next goal came soon after – a result of good skill in the D by Anna Prothero, who notched with a slick reverse-stick shot. Maria Cavilla had a stormer and slapped in a cross from Prothero for the third while Benedict helped herself to her second when she charged to the top of the D before unleashing a powerful strike.
Cavilla's quick hands made it 5-0 before half time and the game became less interesting as a contest as it wore on, neat work between Kelly Taylor, Prothero and Cavilla resulting in Cavilla's hat-trick goal from the first move of the second half.
Sarah Symes, Laura Quinn , Lucy Uttley and two brilliant Cavilla goals wrapped up the procession which was probably not enjoyable for either team in terms of competitiveness.
The second XI had a far tougher assignment at PHC Chiswick, going down 2-1.
Skipper and vice skipper Abi Frith and Kirsty Hull were unavailable and PHC Chiswick managed to open the scoring, somewhat against the run of play.
But Ashford were in no mood to let it affect them and their efforts were rewarded when a good ball from midfield to Veronica Chudleigh in the D saw her slip the ball across to Gillian Clegg who made no mistake in securing the equaliser.
Although PHC Chiswick scored what proved the winner, Ashford rallied and good work by Louisa Jakubovic set up Gillian Clegg who fired the ball goalwards in what looked like a certain equaliser.
But a superb, acrobatic save from the PHC Chiswick keeper somehow kept the ball out.