Makeshift 3's continue pre-season form in to the league with impressive win at Bicester
In a week where the main achievement was to have enough players to travel the 3s made the long trip to Bicester for their opening league game of a season where ability to travel long distances and perform will be critical.
Bicester made a strong start to the game showing the confidence you would expect from a newly promoted team and managed to get some early shots on goal which threw returning keeper Jon Hunt straight into the deep end which he came through admirably with some excellent saves.
Ashford then began to settle and started to use the blend of youth (Stephen Forster & Stephen Law) and experience (Adrian Hewes & Gordon Smith) in defence to work the ball out nicely with a nice zip on the aging Bicester pitch up to the ever solid midfield of James Berressem, Pavi Aulakh and Robert Forster. This generated some early half chances for the largely inexperienced forward line of Jamie Tilt, Callum Maguire and Chris Lunn who are more used to holding cricket bats than the bent stick.
As the first half went on this open style of play was met by increasing physicality by the experienced Bicester midfield and defence but Ashford stuck to their guns and the passing approach paid dividends with some penalty corners. This was to lead to the first Ashford goal when Robert Forster slid the ball to Pavi Aulakh to open the scoring with a solid strike into the bottom corner.
At this point Ashford did not take their foot off the gas and despite Tilts attempt to dummy the keeper with the wobbly legs technique in a 1 on 1 Ashford won another penalty corner in the final minutes. After a false start by the ever eager Tilt who was sent back to the halfway line the halftime whistle was blown allowing Ashford reinforcements to come up for the final play where Chris Lunn was able to put the ball in the net after a sublime touch by Gordon Smith.
Ashford were determined not to lose this advantage and good communication between the team meant that there was always someone their to cover should someone be found out of position and this solidarity led to their 3rd consecutive clean sheet. Attacking wise Ashford continued to put pressure on the Bicester defence with some solid runs down the wings from the forwards and midfield which generated further short corners but unfortunately no addition to the score.
Thanks to all who travelled at short notice and to those who made it happen (particular thanks to Joe Lewis for covering the bar and running the 4s in Gordon's absence)
Next week the 3s have a home game to OMTs with an 11.30 pushback - please let Lunny know through Pitchero or text by Tuesday evening if you are available
Post match the vice captain and the 4s captain decided it should be the skipper Lunn who picked up Man of the Match