Crackles pops up as Staines go snap
Cereal killer Rob milks it as he strikes within 30 seconds to prompt a 14-0 triumph for runaway Ashford
ASHFORD men's first XI are getting into their stride as Shujah ur Rehman again took centre stage after Rob Crackles started the ball rolling in 30 seconds.
An average draw on the opening day followed by a win in their second outing was followed by a 14-0 crushing of Staines 2nd XI in this one-sided MBBO Regional One clash.
Ashford started extremely quickly, nicking the ball off the Staines defence to create that quickfire opportunity.
Full of energy, Crackles snapped the ball onto his favourite reverse side before popping the ball into the top corner with a crisp strike.
That first-minute hit set the tone as Staines 2s wilted under the pressure.
Another two quick goals followed, with good work down the left-hand side by ur Rehman, whose shot across goal was tapped home by Alex Betts at the back post.
Ur Rehman soon added his name to the scoresheet, with a trademark tricky run and finish, giving the visitors a three-goal lead in the opening three minutes.
The game settled down and Ashford had to wait another six minutes to add to their lead. This time it was the marauding run of Jamie Hemphrey, who burst through the Staines defence and unleashed a thunderous shot into the corner.
Staines were understandably deflated by the free-scoring visitors and Ashford ran out impressive winners, Reh- man netting four, while Hemphrey and Betts grabbed hat-tricks. Andrew Whiting scored a brace, with Patrick Fisher joining Crackles on the scoresheet.
Ashford men's second XI came from behind to earn a worthy draw, coming back from 2-0 and 4-2, to eventually finish level at 4-4 with Witney. Both sides had chances to win it although Witney were probably more disappointed not to have taken all three points.
Ashford showed some battling qualities with a depleted team, Dave Baker scoring twice, both from straight strikes at short corners, Matt Jenkins-Emerton and Andy Sonden – apparently nicknamed Shaggy by his teammates – grabbing the others, the Witney defence not having a Scooby Doo how to deal with Sonden's threat.
Meanwhile, Ashford Ladies warmed up for a clash with top of the table Staines 2s with a brilliant 4-1 win at PHC Chiswick in the third XI in the Middlesex Women's Premier.
Missing regular forward Maria Cavilla, Tatum Colclough stepped up for her debut and although regular sweeper Sarah Symes was also unavailable, a reshuffle at the back meant Ashford were just as strong.
After consistent periods of positive play from every member of the team, Ashford were the more likely team to get a number of early goals.
The first did deservedly come after some beautiful play from midfielders Kelly Taylor and Nicky Benedict as well as forwards Lucy Downs and Colclough, Benedict's pass ultimately finding Downs who finished well.
The second goal came rapidly after some individual brilliance from Downs which allowed Colclough to fire her first goal for Ashford.
Against the run of play PHC Chiswick scored what Ashford thought was a debatable goal minutes before the half-time whistle so Ashford went into the break 2-1 ahead.
Disastrously, Kelly Taylor then took a fall and badly twisted her ankle, resulting in her hobbling off and taking no further part in the game, with Liz Achengo returning in her place, having earlier limped off after banging her knee.
Despite plenty of attacking forays, Ashford were still not scoring in open play.
With legs tiring and no subs to rejuvenate the side, the Red & Blacks continued to forage. They were finally rewarded when two speedilyinjected corners by Anna Protheroe to Benedict were eventually smacked home by Lucy Downs in well-worked routines.
Sonden strike: Andy Sonden grabs a goal for Ashford 2s in a thriller against Witney.