Penalty paid for late miss
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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