Ashford crowned champions with thrilling 9-0 win
Eastcote 2s 0-9 Ashford
Ashford men’s first XI faced Eastcote 2nd team in their last game of the season, aiming for the win that would see the Red & Blacks promoted as champions back to South Premier 2. Eastcote had plenty to play for themselves, with their 1st team 2nd in the league and level on points with Ashford, if they managed to get anything out of the game it would surely send their 1s up, instead of Ashford.
Ashford started the game brightly, nicking the ball frequently in the middle of the park and looking dangerous going forward. But, Eastcote had set up to defend deep and in numbers, looking to frustrate the visitors and break quickly. Ashford were really up for the game and got the games first short corner, which was charged down by the Eastcote defence, due to the slowness of the pitch. This was a warning of things to come, as shortly after Ashford got their second corner. This time the ball was worked neatly around the runners, and found its way to the league’s top scorer, Shujah Ur Rehman, who fired the ball into the net from a few yards out to give Ashford a deserved lead. Eastcote looked to make amends straight away and won their first short corner of the game. The resulting dragflick, was easily saved by Dan Appleyard in goal, and Ashford came away with the ball, looking to counter attack at pace. The ball was played forward to Rehman, who turned and released Jamie Hemphrey who galloped forward into the Eastcote D and to the by-line, once there he got his head up and squared the ball past the keeper to the oncoming Tom Pitfield, who dove in front of his marker and diver the ball into the net to double Ashford’s lead. The visitors were full of confidence, and nearly went 3-0 up when Hemphrey’s mazy run, resulted in him find Rehman, who struck the post with his reverse stick shot. Ashford’s first half onslaught was not over, from another short corner, Rehman managed to dink the ball past the two runners and fire a reverse shot low and hard into the corner making it three. And, then at the end of the half, the ball found its way to Joe Lewis at the back post, who drew what seemed to be the entire Eastcote defence toward him and then coolly squared the ball to Hemphrey, who stroked the ball home to make in 4-0 to Ashford at half time.
Ashford started where they left off in the second half, winning a short corner within the first 5 minutes. Rehman stepped up and rocketed the ball into the top corner for his hat trick, and Ashford’s fifth. He was at it again, winning and converting a Penalty Flick, when the ball hit a defender on the goal line, with the keeper beaten. It was Hemphrey’s turn to win and convert a Penalty Flick next, after he was cynically taken out by the Eastcote goalkeeper, making it 7-0. With Ashford completely dominating and maintain possession, Eastcote were struggling to get the ball out of their own half, so it was no surprise when their best opportunity came from an Ashford error. After a supposed bobble, the ball was missed by the last Ashford defender, and sent the Eastcote player through one on one with Appleyard, who missed the ball and took the attacker out, getting a green card a 2 minute sin bin for his troubles. This meant Ashford had to stick Paddy Fisher in goal as kicking back. Ashford capitalised on a scuffed injection and broke away from the resulting short corner, nearly scoring seconds after losing their goalkeeper. Once Appleyard was back on the pitch, Ashford once again pushed forward looking to increase their lead. After some near twenty passes, the ball found Rehman at the backpost, who was able to fire past the deflated keeper and score his 56th goal of the season. With a couple minutes to go, and both sides petering out, Hemphrey received the ball on the right wing. He was then able to beat three or four Eastcote defender en route to the top of the D, where turned and larruped the ball into the top corner, to score his third, Ashford’s ninth and put the icing on the cake.
It finished 9-0 to the MBBO Regional 1 champions, who finished the season with the best attack and defence in the league, gaining promotion to South Premier 2 with a +86 goal difference.