Penalty paid for late miss

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Www.kentonline.co.uk/sport -

Gary Crox­ton’s last kick penalty miss con­demned Ash­ford to their first away de­feat of the sea­son, cost­ing them top-spot in Lon­don 3 South East.

The loss ended their run of nine suc­ces­sive wins, stretch­ing back to early Oc­to­ber, with the West Sus­sex side the last team to beat them. It drops them to sec­ond, a point be­hind Thanet Wan­der­ers.

Skip­per Adam Knight ad­mit­ted: “We were very dis­ap­pointed to lose, which is a strange feel­ing for us this sea­son. I have 100% faith in the play­ers that they can bounce back and show what a qual­ity side we are.”

Ash­ford paid the price for a slow start, trail­ing 16- 0 in­side the open­ing half-hour, to a con­verted try and three penal­ties.

Knight’s charges fi­nally got their first points on the board four min­utes be­fore half­time, when No.8 Dan Brown went over.

Crox­ton con­verted to re­duce the deficit to nine.

Then the last ac­tion of the first half saw Ash­ford at­tack HOR­SHAM ASH­FORD again. JJ Mur­ray weaved though the home de­fence leav­ing him with only the full -back to beat. Flanker Lewis Stimp­son fol­lowed him, but proved un­able to catch Mur­ray’s pass, yards from the line.

Harsh words in the dress­ing room at half-time had the de­sired ef­fect as Ash­ford came out of the blocks fast.

Crox­ton kicked another penalty, be­fore Ash­ford scored prob­a­bly their best try of the sea­son.

Lovely hand­ing car­ried the ball from side to side, with backs and for­wards link­ing well, be­fore cen­tre Grant Burdon went over un­der the posts. Crox­ton con­verted to put Ash­ford ahead for the first time in the game, 17-16, with 18 min­utes left.

Two min­utes later scrumhalf Rory Beech was sin­binned for what the ref­eree de­scribed as “one too many” penal­ties con­ceded, and the ex­tra man ad­van­tage put the de­fence un­der pres­sure, but Hor­sham still couldn’t break­through.

Then came two piv­otal mo­ments in the game. A minute re­mained when Hor­sham were awarded a penalty, slot­ted home by their fly half for a 19-17 lead.

Then 30 sec­onds from the end Ash­ford were awarded another. Crox­ton stepped up to win the game, only to send his ef­fort, taken five me­tres from the side­lines, wide.

Stimp­son was named manof-the match fol­low­ing a fine dis­play.

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