Steamers move clear at the top
Andreas Carter Kent County League
Three well-worked goals in a dominant second-half performance saw Ashford return from their trip to title rivals West Farleigh 3-0 winners as they moved two points clear at the top of the Division 2 Central & East table.
After an uneventful firsthalf, goals from Matty Forster, Josh Jones and Ryan Prior in the second period helped the Steamers record back-to-back away league wins for the first time this season as they went back ahead of Snodland Town at the top.
Mark Howells was handed his first start for the club while Kieran Shrimpton also made the starting line-up for the first time, partnering Jack Scobie in the centre of the defence.
Skipper Craig Haynes forced a decent save from home keeper Mike Harold midway through the first-half while both Howells and Jordan Griffin had half chances that didn’t really trouble the keeper.
Full-back pair Ben Hunt and Casper Floyd joined in the attack at every opportunity, with Hunt impressive on the left.
At the other end the Ashford defence held firm, limiting the hosts to long range efforts. When they did get past the excellent Shrimpton and Scobie, young keeper Wayne Everest was quick to react and race off of his line to sweep up.
Ashford came out for the start of the second-half looking much more threatening, and the deadlock was finally broken two minutes into the second period when Howells dinked the ball into the penalty area towards Forster who took advantage of his marker slipping, gathered the ball and slotted it home.
Substitute Josh Jones grabbed the second goal after an hour when he headed in from close range from James Haylock’s cross.
At the other end, West Farleigh almost pulled a goal back, but Everest was on hand to brilliantly tip Lloyd Standing’s well hit effort over the bar.
Ashford brought on fresh legs with Ryan Prior, Bekim Ahmetaj and Riece Annand coming on to keep the momentum going, and Haylock was unlucky not to score the third when he beat two defenders on the left, cut inside another defender before seeing his shot hit the upright.
The game was killed off in the 88th minute when Steve Cowell and debutant Shqipron Ahmetaj linked up to play in substitute Ryan Prior on the left, who dribbled the ball around two defenders and out-paced another before slotting home. Ashford: Everest, Floyd (sub- Annand 72), Scobie, Shrimpton, Hunt, Howells, Haynes (B Ahmetaj 57, S Ahmetaj 80), Cowell, Griffin (Jones 57), Forster (Prior 72), Haylock.
Sixth-placed New Romney were 3-0 winners at Crockenhill in the Premier Division. Their goals came from Liam Gear, Ray Godden and substitute Tristan Belsey.
In Division3 Central & East, New Romney Reserves defeated Paddock Wood 8-1. There were two goals each from both Ashley Boyd and Greg Hitchman. Tony Norris, Rhys Morrison, Max Tilson and Benjamin Bates Binder were also on target.
Charing (red) ease the ball from Lenham Wanderers Reserves on Saturday