Slough Grind Out Victory
Ashford Town (Middlesex) hosted Slough Town in an uninspiring clash at the Robert Parker Stadium, played in freezing conditions on a surface that could be best described as tricky.
The home side were without several first choice players, including defensive rock Bairoh Conteh and prolific winger Mark Bitmead, and for large parts of this game were second best to a Slough team that have played fewer games than all but one team in the division. There have been 110 goals so far this season in Ashford’s twenty six league matches at an average of just over four per match, but this game never threatened to come close to maintaining that figure.
Chances were at a premium in the opening stages, with only an off target Jake Parsons volley for Slough to show for the first quarter of an hour. Ed Smith, with nineteen goals to his name this term, got clean through after fifteen minutes, but put his shot off target. At the other end, Ashford’s Scott Weight headed over from a right side corner. There was plenty of endeavour in attack from the Ash Trees, but they were lacking the required quality in the final third. Samad Kazi, in particular, looked dangerous on the right wing, but he struggled to provide the deliveries on the rough pitch. Up front, Kofi Lockhart-Adams and Mario Quiassaca toiled away, but struggled to make an impact on the Slough back line. Quiassaca did get his head to a corner ten minutes before the break, but saw it cleared off the line.
Danny Burnell, Slough’s twenty five goal top scorer, had a good chance but was denied by Paul McCarthy, but the visitors were not to be denied for long. Five minutes before the break, Adam Martin crossed from the left, and Ollie Burgess finished superbly with a left footed looping volley that left McCarthy stranded. It was a moment of true quality in an otherwise dull game. A minute before half time, Ed Smith hit a similar effort to Burgess’ opener, but was unlucky to see his volley drop onto the roof of the net. Half Time Ashford 0 Slough 1
The second half was largely played in Ashford’s half, as Slough looked for the decisive second goal. Adam Martin shot low from twenty five yards, only to be denied by an excellent save from McCarthy. The home goalie was called upon again just moments later, this time getting down to deny Smith in a one on one situation.
Ashford just couldn’t get out of their own half, and only had one goalbound effort of note in the second period; a header from Jim Mann from a corner cleared off the line. Slough continued to press for a killer second goal, but first Smith and then Stuart Swift missed chances, while Burnell fired narrowly wide with ten minutes left. The game petered out after that, and Slough recorded the victory that sees them climb to eighth in the table, while Ashford slumped to eleventh. Slough are now nine points off a playoff place, but have between four and eight games in hand on the teams above them, and last season’s runners-up must fancy their chances of a top five finish. Full Time Ashford Town (Middlesex) 0 Slough Town 1
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