Wise head vital to victory
SECOND-HALF INTRODUCTION OF VETERAN FORWARD HELPS ASHFORD CLOSE OUT THIRD AWAY WIN OF THE SEASON
ASHFORD moved up to fourth in South Premier League Division 2 after securing their third away victory of the campaign.
The visitors were full of confidence after beating title contenders Eastbourne last week and their defence worked hard to contain the free-scoring Oxford attack.
With Chris Smith back in central midfield, Ashford started quickly with the forwards linking up and attacking with their usual speed and athleticsm.
Rob Playford looked particularly busy up front, earning a penalty corner from which Paul Cheap sent the Oxford keeper the wrong way with a powerful drag flick.
Ashford quickly added a second through the impressive Andy Hill, who claimed his sixth goal of the season.
Keeper Keir Starley kept out a drag flick diving to his right but with Oxford on top approaching the break, their pressure finally told when Tim Martin pounced on a rebound from a short corner.
The second half was end to end in the opening 10minutes and the introduction of veteran striker Stuart Wise changed the dynamics of the forward line, bringing a slower controlled style of play at times.
He was rewarded when a fine move down the left created by Sam Handley was rounded off by Wise at the back post.
That goal was slightly against the run of play and Ashford spent the next 15 minutes defending
Starley did well to save a deflection from the top corner and again with a close range reverse stick effort from ex-Ashford forward Steve Collier but otherwise the back line, led by Dan Wells, stood firm.
Ashford face their toughest test of the season on Saturday when they entertain leaders Gore Court (1pm start).