Betts Shu can't guess who's up to 50 goals this season
Oxford 1-3 Ashford
Ashford men’s 1st XI were away to Oxford 2s this week in their quest for promotion.
Ashford started confidently and were moving the ball well around the back and into the midfield and forward line, but were struggling to break down the well set up Oxford side in the opening period. After some quick and direct play by Matt Law, Ashford won a free hit in the home sides 25. Player/Coach Ravi Virdi took control and managed to dribble past what seemed to be half of the Oxford side to get to the baseline, once there, he got his head up and picked out Alex Betts, who was parked in his usual space, to sweep in from the back post. With Ashford 1 nil up, it seemed that they thought the victory was now an inevitability and stopped playing the short and sharp hockey that allowed them to control the opening 15 minutes. Ashford started to give possession away needlessly, allowing Oxford to get a foothold in the game and find some success of their own going forward. Luckily, keeper Dan Appleyard was on hand to make a couple of save and keep the Red & Blacks 1-0 up going in to half time.
After a telling off by Virdi and Captain, Luke Cottrell, at half time, Ashford started the second half as they did the first – working the ball sharply around the back and midfield and looking for openings going forward. As the half wore on, Ashford became more dominant and stepped higher up the pitch in search of the second goal. In doing so, Ashford left a couple huge holes in their defence which Oxford were able to exploit, scoring a sloppy, yet valuable goal. Ashford were angered by their lack of concentration and the attack really stepped up and harassed the Oxford midfield and back line. They nearly had an immediate reward, when a Shujah Ur Rehman dragflick clattered into the post from an Ashford short corner. This was the first in a flurry of sort corners for the visitors, and after a couple of broken down short corners, Rehman played the ball past the Oxford runner to Luke Cottrell, who switched the ball back to Rehman to shoot from close range. His shot was saved by the onrushing keeper, but Alex Betts was on hand to score his 18th goal of the season and put Ashford 2-1 up with 15 minutes to play. Oxford were not deflated by conceding shortly after equalising, and hit the post from a short corner of their own. That was to be the last scare for the visting side, as they calmly saw out the closing period of the game. There was still time for Rehman to add his name to the scoresheet, jinking past three or four defenders, before finishing past the keeper from the narrowest of angles. By scoring, Rehman made to 50 league goals for the season, with two games remaining to beat his previous record of 51 league goals two seasons ago.
With Eastcote winning against the Red & Blacks next opponents, Newbury & Thatcham, Ashford are still top of the league on goal difference with two games remaining.