The Hawks’ season got off to a disappointing start after they were well beaten by a very impressive Ashford United side, who demonstrated why they spent the whole of last season above the Hawks in the league table.
Coming into the game on the back of a 2-1 friendly win at National League Eastleigh, manager Jude Macdonald opted for the same starting line-up, but there was an early set back in the 8th minute when a left footed shot from outside the box by Josh Wisson found the bottom corner of James Broadbent’s net.
The hosts continued to pressurise the Hawks into uncharacteristic errors and it was no real surprise when they added a second after a deflected shot from Aaron Condon beat Broadbent on his near post. To say the first half was a disappointment was an understatement, with the Hawks barely able to string two passes together, being continually beaten in the air as well as to second balls throughout the half. Broadbent kept the tie alive with a very good save from Adrian Stone just before the break. A scuffed shot from Rhyle Ovenden was the sum total of the Hawks efforts on goal in the first 45.
Ashford missed two great chances to finish the tie off early in the second half. First Broadbent saved well from Condon before Johan Ter Horst missed with the goal gaping after winning the race to a through ball.
Something needed to change, and Jude Macdonald brought on Ahmed Abdulla, James Fraser and Ronald Sobowale on the hour. Sobowale was making his long-awaited debut, after signing in March and Fraser’s appearance was his third debut for the club after re-signing in the week.
The changes did make a difference and the best opportunity of the game for the Hawks came in the 71stminute when Fraser played in Sobowale whose well struck shot was saved low down by the Nuts and Bolts skipper Sam Mott. Despite a late flurry of corners, most comfortably dealt with by the imposing Ashford defenders, the game ended with the Hawks unable to create any further clear-cut chances.
Nuts and Bolts: Mott (c), Ossai, Simms, Wisson, Goreham, Richardson, Anidugbe, Fagg, Ter Horst, Stone (Miles 90), Condon (Osinfolarin 81)
Not used: Ogunrinde, McMillan-Lopez, Binder, Hook
Hawks: Broadbent, Emberson, Shooman, Hamilton, Chappell, El-Abd, Rodrigues (Fraser 60), Ovenden (Abdulla 60), Tighe (Sobowale 60), Muggeridge (c), Martin
Not used: Unwin, Okorougo, Blackmore, Wilson