Red Hot Tangerines Part 2:

Impetus partner club Ashford Town Middlesex have started the Tier Five London & South-East Premier with six wins from six – averaging over six goals a game in the process. Assistant Head coach Matthew Aumeeruddy, captain Liss Down and striker Ashley Cheatley, sponsored by Impetus all spoke to Ben Gilby about their campaign so far.

Above: Ashford Town (Middx) in the huddle at home to Millwall Lionesses on the opening day of the season. Photo: Ben Gilby.

In this second of a two part feature, we discuss the London & SE Premier campaign so far, the progress of Ashford’s other teams and the players’ role models growing up. To catch up on the first part of the feature, click on this link: https://impetus885775742.wordpress.com/2021/10/07/red-hot-tangerines/

BEN GILBY (BG): Who were your own role models growing up? Are you both aware that you are potentially role models yourselves to young girls who watch Ashford Town play?

LISS DOWN (LD): My footballing role models growing up were Thierry Henry, David Beckham and Kelly Smith. I just used to watch them all and just be in awe of what they could do while playing and just try to replicate it in every game I played, not that it came off too often!

In terms of inspiring anyone else, I just try and be myself and give advice to younger players where I can. There are some exciting players coming through though, with our B team doing well and U16s and U13s enjoying their football.

ASHLEY CHEATLEY (AC): Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham. I was obsessed! I wanted to do everything they did, more so Ronaldo, the way he drives at players quickly its frightening and the finishes are just unreal, it makes my heart race.

I’m not sure how I personally can inspire the next generation of Ashford players, I just hope they come to our games and see what kind of club this is and makes them want to play their football here.

BG: Focusing on the London & South-East Premier now, have the opposition surprised you in any way – are the main challengers for the title the same as you thought pre-season or has anything changed?

Above: Matthew Aumeeruddy points the way ahead for Ashford Town. Photo supplied by: Matthew Aumeeruddy.

MATTHEW AUMEERUDDY (MA): I’ve said many times that this division is one of the most competitive out there with the quality improving year in year out. I would say the usual contenders such as Dulwich Hamlet and Dartford will be strong again this season. I also believe teams such as Fulham, Saltdean United, Worthing and New London Lionesses will also fancy their chances.

LD: I haven’t really been surprised with any of the teams so far this season, we are familiar with a lot of the teams in our league. Every game is a tough game, we know that, I think New London Lionesses are a well organised team and Dartford is always a tough game for us. Teams are around where I thought they would be at this point in the season, it is difficult to tell though as there are differences in the number of games played.

AC: I would say a couple results here and there have surprised us, but that’s football for you and anyone can win on their day.

I mean the main challengers are Dulwich Hamlet, Dartford and even Saltdean are always up and around there, but we take every game as it comes and make sure that when we face these teams we take the three points, however every game is a challenge and we set out to win every one.

BG: Two of your wins this season have been away from home against Saltdean United, who many expected to be challenging at the top of the table, and Dartford who were second behind you. Winning those games on the road speaks volumes. What were the keys behind that success?

MA: Our resilience and refusal to panic during difficult moment of the game. Whenever you go away to teams, you anticipate you will have to deal with some form of pressure from the opposition and so the ability to remain strong in those moments are key. The other thing is making sure that we stick to our principles of play and adapting to the situation that presents itself.

LD: You know what you are going to get when you play these teams away from home, you need to be on your game or you will know about it come the final whistle. Winning these games were vital for us as they play a huge part on where you finish come the end of the season. I feel the key behind the success is our preparation for each of the games, knowing what to expect. Individual brilliance from our forward players, hard work and determination.

Above: Ashley Cheatley on the ball for Ashford Town this season. Photo: Ben Gilby.

AC: COME ONNNN! What results for us! We knew points here were always going to be tough to pick up but we all went out knowing what we needed to do and got the wins we deserved. 

We know how important each game is and with the current run we’re on, the levels of confidence and winning mentality are only growing.

BG: Ashford are more than just about the first team – how have the other teams been getting on so far?

MA: So far so good. Our B Team are experiencing a different challenge this season having been promoted to the Greater London Women’s Football League Division One South.  We have had a lot of changes with the B Team as many players have now headed off to university all over the UK as well as changes within the management team. We are looking to align both groups to ensure a smooth pathway between the first and B’s.  Furthermore, The U13s, U16s and Wildcats are starting this month as well so it is certainly a busy time!

BG: With success, obviously comes attention from other clubs for your players. Ashford seem to have a special connection between the players and club. Ultimately, is that one of the secrets to your success?

MA: Yes, without a doubt. Like I said previously, retention has been key in order to build success in the long term. There is a sense of family, and everyone feels they belong here. Everyone is driven towards the same goals!

BG: Liss and Ash, tell us a bit about what you like to get up to off the pitch and what jobs do you do?

Above: Liss Down fires in an effort for Ashford Town against Highworth Town in the FA Cup recently. Photo supplied by: Liss Down.

LD: I work for Medical Billing & Collection, who invoice on behalf of private doctors, I’ve been there about 13 years now. Outside of work and off the pitch I’m normally playing five a side with my friends, watching football of some sort or watching a series on Netflix.

AC: I work for Premier League side Brentford as a ticketing technical support executive. Going back to Ashford for a minute though, I think it’s also fair to say that there’s no reason as to why the club cannot go all the way to the top, if we attract and sign more top players as we go who have the same mentality, anything is possible.

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