Saturday, December 17th 2011 – Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Barton Rovers. Southern League Division One Central.
Last weekend, with Hampton & Richmond Borough away from home, I decided to take my two and a half year old son Callum to another of our local non-league sides. The team in question was Ashford Town (Middlesex), who ply their trade in the Southern League Division One Central. It was my first visit to their ground, The Robert Parker Stadium, so I was definitely excited about seeing a new ground, and indeed a new team. One interesting fact I did find out was that The Tangerines declined the chance to have their relegation reversed after Merthyr Tydfil FC were liquidated in 2010.
So, with a nice hot cup of tea for me, and some sweeties for Callum, we took a seat as we awaited the coin toss. As it turned out, we weren’t sat down for long as Ashford were attacking the opposite end of the ground in the first half. So, we ventured out into the unprotected, and extremely cold, end of the ground that Ashford were attacking, hoping to see plenty of action to warm us up.
The game started out fairly brightly, with both teams trying to assert their authority on the game. Early on, Barton had a free kick that was drifted into the penalty area, but it evaded everyone and drifted wide. The visitors didn’t have to wait long to open the scoring, though, and it was an unusual goal to say the least. Ashford goalkeeper Paul McCarthy attempted a clearance, but only succeeded in slicing the ball into his own net. He did get back to the ball and manage to clear it away, but the assistant referee adjudged the ball to have crossed the line.
Ashford briefly threatened, and, after some good work on the right, Ashley Lodge drilled an inviting ball across the six yard box. Dan Brown, though, wasn’t alive to the chance and failed to get anything on it. Barton continued to be the better team without having to really try, and a speculative 25-yard hit from the impressive Ricky Case was fielded well by McCarthy to prevent his team going two down.
Barton were denied what looked a certain penalty just past the half hour, when striker Dan Parkinson was felled from behind, but the referee waved the appeals away. It wasn’t long before it was 2-0, though, as Layne Eadie capitalised on hesitancy in the Ashford defence from a corner, and he nodded home the decisive goal after 36 minutes.
Half time came, and we retired to the covered seating area, via the snack bar of course! Another cup of tea, and an excellent hotdog warmed the cockles in readiness for the second half. Unfortunately, it was a complete non event, with very little happening to report on. The referee didn’t help things, constantly stopping the game at will, and causing numerous delays as he more than once crossed the whole pitch to talk to the benches.
The full time score of Ashford Town (Middlesex) 0 Barton Rovers 2 was completely justified, as The Tangerines just seemed to freeze along with the sparse crowd.
Having said that, I will be back in the New Year, a poor performance and a defeat is nowhere near enough to put me off! After all, my first Hampton & Richmond game was a 0-4 defeat and that didn’t stop me!