Ashford was the place to be for Non-League football fans this weekend, no, not because United beat Cray Wanderers in the Bostik South Division but because the Towns’ other two sides Ashford FC and AFC Ashford Athletic met each other in the Les Leckie Cup.
Both sides play in the Kent County East League with Ashford FC playing in the Second Division and AFC Ashford Athletic one below them in the Third Division.
Due to both sides have excellent communication through their Social Media channels we got an insight into how they each approached the game and we begin with the match report from the victorious manager Ryan Norman….
Match Report by manager Ryan Norman on yesterdays 2-0 Les Leckie Quarter Final victory over AFC Ashford Athletic.
Yesterday we faced local side AFC Ashford Athletic to battle it out for a Semi Final spot. A big build up to the game where we knew that whoever won would have bragging rights and I certainly wanted and believed my side had the quality to win this fixture.
I had a strong squad with me yesterday despite a few missing. I let my assistant Graham hold onto most of the pre-match stuff as I still wasn’t feeling 100%.
We lined up in a 4-3-3 and set about Athletic straight away. Unfortunately the pitch didn’t manage to get rolled which meant the surface wasn’t as flat as it could of been but my players knew what to expect.
In my opinion we dominated the first half without ever being at our best and were two goals to the good at half time with Casper adding two more to his seasons tally. Casper has been a bit of a goalscoring revelation lately for this side and is clearly enjoying his freedom further up the pitch scoring goals in some big games. Long may it continue.
Half time focused around keeping up the levels. We haven’t done it in previous games when its mattered and I challenged the boys to show me that they had the mental toughness and quality to be able to do it today in a big game.
Second half we put in what I would describe as a professional performance. We looked solid at the back with James only having to make a few saves most notably one from a free kick but truth be told their keeper Cornell was not particularly busy either. We saw the game out and won the tie 2-0.
In my opinion, we controlled the majority of the game. We looked like we wanted it more, won most of the 1st and 2nd balls and were clinical when it mattered which is something I had spoken about in my preview. Praise to my side for seeing out the game and getting the clean sheet.
Absolutely buzzing for my side to have made their second Semi Final of the season. We now face Division 2 Leaders Wateringbury for the fourth time this season. Having lost to them twice in the league we managed to knock them out of the other cup we had entered the Kent Reliance, so they will no doubt be looking for some revenge.
Bragging rights confirmed. We got the win yesterday and are two games away from two finals. First up is next week when we welcome Sporting Club Thamesmead to Pound Lees Sports ground for the Semi Final of the Kent Reliance. Huge game for this club.
My back four and midfield three were immense yesterday. The defense kept the Division 3 top scorer quiet all game and the midfield worked tirelessly to support both the attack and defence. The forward three worked hard and Casper earned his two goals without a doubt.
My MOM this week goes to Jack Scobie. After his wobble last week, he put in two superb shifts at training and was quality all game today. Strong in the air, superb in the tackle and whichever striker he faced today he won all his personal battles. Well earned.
Many thanks to Stuart Kingsnorth and his side. As I previously have mentioned, I believe they could compete in the league above no problems they just didn’t do enough on the day.
Thanks to those who braved the cold yesterday. Next week, I hope you can do the same again when we play host to Sporting in the clubs biggest game of the season to date.
From AFC Ashford Athletic
M.O.M. Morgan Regardsoe
Yesterday we bowed out of the Les Leckie Cup at the Quarter Final stage following a 2-0 defeat to local rivals Ashford FC.
We can have no complaints as a poor 1st half saw Casper Floyd gifted two easy chances which he happily tucked away.
There was a much better response from the players in the 2nd half but we had gave ourselves too much to do and Ashford used all their experience and know how to shut us out. This is only the third game this season in which we haven’t scored so credit to Ryan Norman’s boys for being so stubborn.
Next Saturday we have a huge game at Homelands as we lost league leaders AEI Sports FC in a crucial top of the table clash.
Before the game we got an insight from both sides…
First up is the thoughts of Ashford FC Manager Ryan Norman, speaking on Friday… Tomorrow we welcome Stuart Kingsnorths AFC Ashford Athletic side to Pound Lees Sports Ground. The game has been scheduled for a while now but due to us doing well in another cup it has been pushed back. I have a great admiration for what Stuart has done footballing wise with his club. He’s taken them from being a local Ashford and District league side to now challenging for the Kent County Division 3 eastern section title.
The game has a personal element added in also as my brother, Craig, is their captain and I had a little period where I played for Stuart when returning from an injury a few years back which worked really well for me.
I’ve been and watched them a few times this season. They have some really good players in their set up. They are a solid, well set up and don’t tend to give too much away, making the opposition show real quality in order to beat them hence why they sit near the top of their table.
As for ourselves, we went through to the Semi Final of the Kent Junior Cup last week beating Gillingham Town. We weren’t great at all if I’m honest and it was definitely a game which hopefully allowed us to blow away the cobwebs. It was only our 3rd game since before Christmas which didn’t help. Excuses aside, my lot will have to be better tomorrow if we want to move into another Semi Final.
A few missing tomorrow. Ben Hunt personal reasons. Liam Whiting has just had his baby. Josh Jones has work and James Haylock Ashdown is out after injuring his hand fairly seriously in 5aside on Wednesday Ben Davies family and Sahil is not fit after returning from Nepal for the last 6 weeks. The realities are that I’m still taking 16 with me tomorrow and the club doesn’t function with a reserve side which says a lot about the spirit in this side and everyone wanting to be a part of what the club is trying to build.
Without doubt, tomorrow is going to be a fiery derby with a place in the Semi Final at stake. I’m still yet to finalise my side but the boys who get the starting spots will no doubt be expected to give me their absolute everything. In a game of this magnitude I need all 11 starters at the races not 6 or 7.
I’ll be setting my side up to win tomorrow. I’m not interested in the fact that we are a league above them. In my opinion Stuarts side with the quality they have could compete in this league no doubt. Tomorrow will be defined by the team who wants it most and the team which can show that bit of quality in front of goal.
Biggest game to date of our season so far tomorrow. Its a 14:15 kick off at the Pound Lees Sports Ground in Hamstreet. Tea bar for hot and cold drinks available from when we are there and the bar is open from HT.
Come and support some local football in what is a huge game for two local clubs.
Fresh from the AFC Ashford Athletic website is how their build-up is going…
Derby games don’t usually need any added spice, but with our skipper Craig being the older brother of opposition Manager Ryan, who also spent a short while with us a few seasons back there is a little extra incentive for all parties.
This is Ryan’s 1st step in to management and to his credit, he has found his feet quickly taking Ashford FC to the Semi Final of the Kent Reliance Cup and 9th in Division 2 C&E. Ryan has built a strong squad with great depth and many familiar names. Both sets of players will know each other very well and a tight game is fully expected.
We have only faced Ashford FC once before and that was in a preseason friendly where we came out on top winning 1-0. Both squads have been hugely improved since the summer so not too much will attention will be paid to the previous result. We have had to face two Division 2 sides in this cup already and having successfully knocked out both of those opponents the players will be desperate to add a third scalp from the Division above.
Stuart and Charlie only have a few concerns regarding player availability, however the loss of centre back Alfie Dryland through a back injury and top scorer Dale Horton being unavailable due to work commitments are both big losses. Midfielder David Yates misses out through a foot injury and winger Matt Lawrie continues his recovery from nose surgery. Midfielder Martin Henry is cup-tied whilst Defender Paul Whittaker is the only other absentee.
On a positive note Craig Norman, Ollie Perkins-Grist, Sean Halls, Justin Howard and Tom Draper have all shaken off minor injuries and reported in 100% fit after Wednesday’s training session.
There are still 1 or 2 decisions to be made regarding the final 16, but we know whoever is selected they will put everything on the line Saturday.
Kick Off is 2.15pm at Hamstreet Sports Ground and the bar will be open.
We encourage everyone to come down and support the boys in what promises to be a really exciting game of football.
With both sides communicating so well I will be able to share their thoughts after the game and follow their progress in this Cup and the League throughout the rest of the season.
Make sure you follow the sides on Twitter and Facebook @ashford_fc2016 + @ashfordathletic