Send­ing-off mars ex­cel­lent cup win

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Football -

Ash­ford United Un­der-18s came from be­hind to beat Hen­don 2-1 and reach the Ry­man Youth League Cup fi­nal at Home­lands on Thurs­day. They now meet Staines at Gilling­ham’s Pri­est­field Sta­dium. The boys are chas­ing two tro­phies, hav­ing al­ready reached the semi-fi­nals of the Kent County Cup. They face a trip to Sit­ting­bourne on Sun­day, Fe­bru­ary 28. Hen­don, who con­ceded ground ad­van­tage due to prob­lems stag­ing the tie, went ahead on the half hour be­fore Luke Eldridge put United level three min­utes be­fore the break. Clark Wood­cock hit the se­cond-half win­ner, United also hit­ting a post, be­fore hav­ing Tom Draper sent-off for a se­cond yel­low card. The young­ster, in­jured in the chal­lenge which earned him his first cau­tion two min­utes ear­lier, had re­moved his shirt as he walked to the bench af­ter be­ing sub­sti­tuted, only to pick up a se­cond book­ing. Man­ager Ja­son Whit­more said: “It was a con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sion and I am writ­ing to the Ry­man League and the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion to seek clar­i­fi­ca­tion. “It’s a fan­tas­tic achieve­ment by the boys who are all first years. “It was a real step-up for the boys from play­ing in the Kent Youth League but they have proved them­selves good enough.”

“We were 1-0 down against Lordswood and won 5-1, 1-0 down at New­port Isle of Wight and won 2-1 with the last kick of ex­tra time and then 2-0 down at Dun­ston and won in in­jury time.

“I don’t want to speak too soon – Sal­is­bury will be tough – but I think we can do it. Days like Satur­day re­mind me why I still play foot­ball – for the love of the game.

“Noth­ing comes close to mak­ing my Foot­ball League de­but against Black­burn but the Dun­ston game brought it all back.

“The buzz was amaz­ing and to get to Wem­b­ley would top off a good non-league ca­reer.

“I’ve had a lot of ops on my body. I was 33 a cou­ple of weeks ago and be­gin­ning to feel it a lit­tle bit.

“But af­ter Satur­day, I just want to keep play­ing for as long as I can.”

Ash­ford can close to within six points of South­ern Coun­ties East lead­ers Hol­lands & Blair if they win their four games in hand.

Danny Lye’s men host Beck­en­ham on Satur­day (3pm) and Rochester on Tues­day (7.45pm) be­fore trav­el­ling to Sal­is­bury in the Vase.

Phillips said: “We’ve still got a chance of win­ning the league and we’re in the semi­fi­nals of the Kent Se­nior Tro­phy but I put Wem­b­ley over any­thing else.

“It’s a once-in-a-life­time thing for a non­league player.

“A lot of peo­ple play their whole ca­reer in the Foot­ball League and don’t get the chance to play at Wem­b­ley, so it would be amaz­ing.

“Ev­ery­one’s think­ing about it but Lye­sey is keep­ing our feet on the ground.”

Ash­ford sub­sti­tute Mikey Dal­ton makes use of his fresh legs

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