Debutant Day seizes his chance
Youngster Matt Day marked his debut with a fine finish as Ashford took another significant step towards winning the Southern Counties East League title, at The Belmont on Tuesday.
The ex-Millwall teenager, who has been playing for United’s under-18s, was chosen to start ahead of several more experienced team-mates and rewarded boss Danny Lye’s faith by skilfully hooking home Ashford’s second goal, after 39 minutes.
Leading scorer Welford had opened the scoring, with a trademark header in the 13th minute and afterwards Lye was delighted with the contribution of his front pair on a night when fifth-placed Whitstable finished with nine men. The United boss, WHITSTABLE ASHFORD UTD Report: MARK STOKES whose side went six points clear at the top with the win, said: “Shaun is 38, he still runs around well but because he’d played 90 minutes on Saturday, we just felt we needed some young legs up there to take a bit of the workload off him.
“Matt went in ahead of some senior players and sometimes in football you have to give the youngsters a chance, even if it’s a big game and he took his goal well.” Welford’s towering header, from a superb Dave Botterill free-kick, came after United keeper George Kamurasi had twice saved well from Frankie Sawyer in a bright start by the home side but once ahead, United looked comfortable.
They added their second when Kamurasi’s long free-kick was helped on by Welford to Day who ran clear before lifting the ball over home keeper Dan Eason.
A feisty start to the second half saw United’s Rory Hill and Whitstable pair Charlie Smith and Craig Thompson booked in the same incident and with an hour played, home midfielder James Morrish saw red after pushing his head towards Jason Goodchild, who was cautioned for his part.
Worse was to follow for the home side, with 13 minutes remaining, when Smith picked up a second yellow for a mindless challenge on United substitute Ryan Palmer, reducing Scott Porter’s men to nine.
United’s Botterill was also booked along with home duo Bola Dawodu and Calvin Sedenu, completing a busy evening for referee Richard Joss.
United’s best chance of the second half fell to Dan Stubbs, whose close-range header was brilliantly kept out by Eason, while in a late home flourish, Aaron Quain had an effort cleared off the line and also curled a free-kick into the side netting.
Kamurasi, West, Walker, Botterill, Avery (Vines 70mins), Kingwell, Stubbs, Goodchild, Welford, Day (Stone 58mins), Hill (Palmer 67mins): Subs (not used) Eldridge, Savage. 201.
Ashford United close down title rivals Crowborough at Homelands Stadium on Saturday
Left, Whitstable’s Bola Dawodu (red) challenges Ashford’s Frazer Walker during United’s 2-0 win at The Belmont on Tuesday. Right, United keeper George Kamarusi makes a fine early save from Frankie Sawyer
Ashford manager Danny Lye – oversaw two wins in four days