Ashridge Park 0 Arborfield Aces 6
Star Player: Alex Ayton
Apologies for a shorter than usual report this week, due primarily to a shortage of time, though it must also be said that I cant imagine we will want to look back on this game all that frequently! Arborfield are a new team, only joining the league this season, and dropping down a division after Christmas having found Division 4 a little challenging (their only points bizarrely coming from a 6-4 win over the joint leaders). Ashridge came into the game with decent availability, with only Marcus missing from the working squad of 14.
Ashridge appeared to have marginally the upper hand in the opening few minutes, with Jamie looking in control in the central areas, and threats developing down either flank where Alex and Harry were managing to link up with the forward line of Jack G and Antonio. After initially looking to play the long ball over the top, Arborfield began to get more control in the centre of the pitch, where ultimately the proved to have the two best players on the pitch, and Ashridge started to play into their hands with too many missed clearances and misplaced passes. After Jack had a couple of efforts - one header from a corner straight at the keeper, and another shot poked wide - the decisive moment of the half came exactly at the mid-point as Arborfield worked the ball nicely from the right along the edge of the Ashridge box, and a little lay off opened the way for a powerfully-struck effort high into the centre of the net. Antonio drew a tip-over from the Arborfield keeper, whilst the visitors had several other shots either straight at Joe (and comfortably claimed) or dragged off-target. 1-0 at the break.
Not much change in the pattern of play in the second half; Ashridge with sporadic assaults on the opposition goal, but not much end product; long-range efforts from Jack, Jamie and Harry but not hit with any great venom and either clearing bar or post, or being comfortably dealt with by the keeper. Arborfield continued to carry the greater threat, but the Ashridge defence stood firm until (once again) at the mid-point of the half, Arborfield struck with a good goal - in fact this one may be the best we've witnessed this season as the midfielder picked up the ball with his back to goal some 25 yards out to the left of centre, and swivelled and struck a sweet shot just inside the far post. With Ashridge struggling for goals this season, there was a feeling that this goal was decisive, and some of the energy and discipline went out of the home team's play - the midfield getting increasingly out of shape with some stranded up-field, whilst the back four also got pulled out of line whilst attempting to compensate. A third arrived on 67 minutes as a forward held off three challenges on the right of the box before crossing to allow the midfielder to fire into the net from close range to complete his hat-trick. Antonio blazed high and wide having been put through by a great pass from Jamie, whilst another effort from Jamie was punched (slightly unnecessarily) over the bar by the keeper. In the last five minutes, Arborfield cut through at will on either flank and scored three very similar tap-in goals to really put Ashridge to the sword.
Not a game to dwell on for the home side, and particularly disappointing after two disciplined performances resulting in clean sheets. Star player award went to Alex who really didn't do too much wrong today either on the left of midfield in the first half where he linked well with the forward line and provided some great cover in front of the defence, or at right back in the second, where again he made numerous interceptions, and continued to try everything to resist right to the final whistle.