You Baber Believe It We Are Moving Up The Table
Cool finish takes 3s to victory in land of the roundabout
Ashford 3s travelled up the M1 full of confidence following the previous weeks home win over Wycombe. Despite arriving in plenty of time Ashford made a slow start and tentative start to the game allowing MK to exert some early pressure on the Ashford goal drawing an excellent diving save from Andy Ritchie.
Ashford then pulled together and started making some nice passing moves switching the point of attack from Dave Merchant on the left through central playmaker James Berressem to the overlapping runs of Stephen Forster and Pavi Aulakh on the right. It was one such move which generated Ashford's first half chance with Berressem injecting the ball from the 25 towards the back post where John Hunt dived in and was just unable to convert. Ashford continued to generate chances with Chris Lunn using his cricket skills to draw a fine save from the MK keeper with a straight drive on the volley.
Ashford opened the scoring using their potent short corner routine when Pavi's strike was deflected by Merchant resulting in a save from which Andy Sonden was able to maintain his 3s scoring record on the back post.
MK looked to respond quickly but were frustrated by the centre back partnership of James Maitland and Chris Mather although Ashford had a scare when Mather turned the ball into his own net after a MK cross from outside the D. Luckily Berressem was on hand to persuade the umpire that the rules had changed and that it was only a long corner rather than a goal. MK continued to push at the end of the half and Ashford were relieved when Adrian Hewes was able to clear the ball off the line.
The 2nd half was more of the same with the Ashford midfield and defence having to absorb more pressure with shots raining on the Ritchie goal resulting in some fine saves and a goal line clearance from Berressem who put his body on the line. Finally though MK were able to breakthrough when a MK short corner strike was deflected past Ritchie into the Ashford goal. In line with other performances this year Ashford were able to strike straight back when Merchant played a fine ball into the Phantom Lewis Baber who was loitering with intent inside the MK 'D' and was able to calmly slot past the MK keeper with strong slap to the bottom corner.
This pushed the play back in Ashford direction with pressure being put on the MK defence by the ever willing Hunt and Sonden and some fine aerial takedowns from Gordon Smith (after one of the longest warmups in the history of hockey) before some final chances were missed by skip Lunn just before the end of the game.
James Berressem was voted MoM at the end of the game which resulted in Ashford moving up to 5th in the table