This game was played on a bright, unusually sunny afternoon. Both teams came into the tie with confidence high, Chatham Town occupying second place in the league with 24 points from 11 games and Ashford United a place behind them, in third, with the same number of points, but a lower goal difference.
Dan Bradshaw, Chatham Town’s top scorer, with six goals, started on the bench today but Jack Evans, who is just behind him with five goals, was in the starting eleven. Ashford United’s top scorer, Gary Lockyer, with eight goals, started today, alongside Omari Hibbert, who signed recently from Sevenoaks Town.
The game opened up with Chatham Town passing quickly and accurately, on the floor, while Ashford United hoped that facing into the bright, low, winter sun, would dazzle the home defence, so opted for a series of long ball attacks. The first goal would clearly be important today and neither side was over committing in attack, for fear of being caught out, on the break.
In the 37th minute the huge crowd of 939, that had turned out to watch this battle, were able to cheer something positive when Emmanuel Oloyede broke into the right hand side of the Ashford United penalty area, before slotting the ball home to make it 1-0. This lead was defended upto the break with Chatham Town’s defensive combination of Reece Butler and Simon Cooper, keeping the pressure, from particularly Lanre Azeez, at bay.
The second half saw pressure from Ashford United but a repeated failure to get enough balls into the box. A failing which clearly frustrated Tommy Warrilow, in the away dugout.
Chatham Town defended almost robotically well and attacked repeatedly on the break with chances for Evans, Bradshaw and late on Ogunseye and Domafriye. Ashford United’s Omar Lawson never stopped running and looking for opportunities but the away side failed to find a ball which would really test Chatham Town’s defence.
At full time, it was Chatham who secured the three points, with a hard won 1-0 victory. The fans left the Bauvill stadium happy, as Chatham continued to push Ramsgate at the top of the table. Ashford United were disappointed as they left, knowing they weren’t outclassed and yet that they never really tested Chatham Town.