Above: Ashford Town (Middx) 2021/22. Photo: Ashford Town (Middx).
It’s been an incredible season for Impetus partner club Ashford Town (Middx). Chairman and head coach Will Boye spoke about his team who are top of the tier five London & SE Premier and have also enjoyed a historic FA Cup run (20/1/22).
Ashford Town hit the headlines in the late autumn with a sensational FA Cup win at home to FA Women’s National League Southern Premier side Oxford United. Despite being two divisions below their opponents, Will knew his team had a chance.
“Heading into every game, we are always confident of a result as long as we’re able to effectively apply our game strategy. The players were excited about the game, the spectators were bouncing from the first whistle and our home venue gave us that extra edge.
“Oxford are a great side, inform, playing some really good football and posed a constant threat to us on the pitch. We needed to maintain concentration and take our chances when they arrived and I am delighted that the players were able to execute that. Three well-worked goals and a clean sheet left me delighted with what was easily the performance of the season.
It was not just his team’s performance that pleased the Tangerines’ head coach, it was the vibe in the stands on the day as well.
“It was a result that will live long in the memory for many. The match-day preparation was smooth which saw us witness the biggest attendance The Robert Parker Stadium had experienced for some years.
“It was an unusually sunny afternoon and everyone arrived in such a jovial mood. Excited for the game, aware of the challenge that lay ahead of us but determined to put Ashford on the map, making people aware of just how strong we are as a squad.
“Everything that transpired on the pitch did not surprise us one bit. We worked very hard in studying Oxford’s threats and nullified that effectively on the pitch. Of course, this included our goalkeeper, Sophie Shults, pulling off a number of outstanding saves too.”
That victory over Oxford United set up another plum home tie in round three when Ashford was paired with the second-highest Championship side that they could have drawn, London City Lionesses.
“We knew that we were in for a tough game. The organization around the game to ensure we were COVID compliant and the opposition we were to welcome appropriately was a mammoth task. We got there in the end and I must praise the coaching staff, secretary, and of course our phenomenal volunteers at the football club who are nothing but supportive.
“There was so much to prepare for around the game it never really felt like we could sit back, soak it all in and enjoy the day and occasion, which was history in the making for this football club. In saying that it was an enjoyable game to be part of and one we’ll remember for a long time.”
Despite going behind to the Championship side, in true Ashford style, the tier five league leaders managed to equalize. Will spoke about all the hard work that aided this.
“The mental strength of this team is a huge asset of ours, which our mental performance coach, Tia Prior, works very hard in developing on a weekly basis. This is so apparent in how we approach games, how we guard against, and just how we recover when faced with adversity.
“We knew we should have been 1-0 up after missing a golden chance a few minutes before going behind. Our goal was a deserved one and certainly sent shockwaves through the opposition, who returned after the break more determined, and arguably more domineering.
“Ultimately, it was a pleasing first-half performance on the field, yet a frustrating one from the dugout as we felt we deserved more.”
Whilst London City Lionesses added more goals in the second half, there was so much to be proud of for Will and his team.
“We are disappointed to have lost the game, we’re winners here at the club, and losing is simply not part of who we are, we don’t know how to lose. We’ve looked back at the game and identified the areas of our game that need improvement and we’re working hard to fix that. But as I say, there’s so much to be proud of here at the club and plenty to be positive about for the future, it’s important we don’t lose sight of that and positively strive to be better every week.”
The community support that the club received as a result of the Cup run saw almost 300 people in the ground for the London City Lionesses tie. With Ashford Town homing in on promotion to the FA Women’s National League, Will outlined how he is hoping that support can be mobilized for league games.
“The hope is to consistently get numbers through the gate so that we can continue to grow as a football club. Hopefully the entertainment we provide on the pitch can support this. We’re not the biggest name in football, so climbing up the football pyramid is the best way in attracting, guarding, and keeping this support.”
With the Cup run now over, 2022 sees focus on continuing the club’s hugely impressive league form. These matches now come with an additional challenge as Ashford’s results prior to the New Year including the Cup run makes Will’s team even more of a “target game” for the opposition.
“We always have been that team everyone targets as the one to beat and that’s down to our success over the years. Of course, we’ve had interest in our players too and that won’t change. What I am delighted about is that players want to be at this football club and continue to play with such passion every week.”
Ashford Town is a club that Will emphasizes “are constantly looking to better ourselves every time we take to the football pitch.”
An example of this is the return of Ruby Linton a player that Will is “delighted to welcome back on a permanent basis “as she will add much-needed firepower to our front line and provide us with lots of quality going forward.”
With the club currently top of the table on goal difference from Dartford, albeit with three games in hand, the forthcoming game between the two sides on 30th January at the Robert Parker Stadium is looming large. You would not back against the Tangerines on present form.
The official matchday programme from Ashford Town (Middx)’s FA Cup Second Round victory over Oxford United can be read here: https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/files.pitchero.com/clubs/51537/VxXURVqfRvWqEW2lvObu_Matchday%20Programme%20(28.11.21).pdf