Fulham 0-5 Ashford Town
Impetus editor Ben Gilby was at Motspur Park to see this Tier Five clash in the London & South-East Regional Premier League Cup.
These two sides came into yesterday’s match separated by just a single point, albeit slightly in arrears from the leading two in the division, Queen’s Park Rangers and Dulwich Hamlet.
The home side came into the match weakened slightly by injuries on the back of a dramatic 4-3 loss to Dulwich Hamlet at Motspur Park the previous weekend in front of a huge crowd for this level of 450. The crowd this time round braved exceptionally low temperatures and rain in the early stages of the game but they were rewarded by some excellent, skilful football.
From the start, it was apparent that Ashford, based near Heathrow Airport rather than Kent, would offer a far more cohesive attacking approach. Whilst Fulham’s passing was generally crisper, and was occasionally dangerous, notably on the overlap down the right wing, the quality of the Cottager’s crossing was not up to standard, and they often appeared to be so much slower in their approach play.
Conversely Ashford were quicker in passing and in terms of speed of thought. After sixteen minutes, they took the lead when Alissa Down’s cross was nodded home by Hannah Pearson. Shortly afterwards, it was 2-0 when Ashley Cheatley received the ball in the box and she dispatched a low shot into the corner.
Fulham simply could not cope with Cheatley who produced a performance of such quality that marks her out as a serious threat at this level. She had a number of chances to add to her tally before the break, with great skill taking her past would be tacklers at will, but only the final shot let her down – although this would improve as the game went on.
Fulham came into the game incrementally as the half wore on, but a lack of pace in their build up and disappointing balls into the area let them down badly.
The score remained 2-0 to the visitors at the break – but if they had taken a greater percentage of the chances that had come their way, Ashford could have been out of sight at half-time.
Into the second half, Fulham started with intent with more pep into their play, but any chance of a meaningful comeback was erased just three minutes into the period. It was Cheatley again involved as she gained possession in the home side’s area and beautifully took the ball round the keeper and rolled it into the empty net.
Ashford remained on top and they deservedly added a fourth just before the seventy minute mark when Alissa Down’s cross was met with a stunning power header from Laura Huse.
Ashley Cheatley broke through once more, and with just the goalkeeper to beat, went for a chip which flew over the bar. She didn’t have long to wait to complete her hat-trick though and it was an exquisite goal. Receiving the ball on the left hand side, she tied the Fulham defence in knots, leaving would-be tacklers on the ground before cutting inside and firing home to complete the rout.
Fulham are a far better team than this showing, and they will come back from this. Ashford Town though were hugely impressive and the hosts will be grateful that they didn’t take more of their chances in the first half or else the score-line could have been worse from their perspective.
Don’t miss our full photo file of fifty pictures from the game, which can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=151465452925251&set=pcb.151470442924752&type=3&theater
Teams: FULHAM: Marlow, Mendes, Allen, Woodland, Southgate, Meehan, Thomas, Jefferies, Lambird, Taylor, Foster. Subs: Brady, Cole, Goode, Underhill.
ASHFORD TOWN: Perkis, Peters, Potter, Huse, Baker, Johnson, Head, Down, Pearson, Neufville, Cheatley. Subs: Harte, James, Symons.
Goals: Pearson 16. Cheatley 22, 48, 84. Huse 68.