Preview | Ashford United (H)
And after many a day waiting, we finally host Ashford United under the lights at The Enclosed Ground.
Buoyed by Saturday’s crucial 1-0 victory over promotion-chasing Beckenham Town, a win that put an end to two consecutive losses, Shaun Saunders’ side return this evening for a 7.45pm kick-off.
Saturday saw three debutants step out onto the pitch with Michael Fernandes electric in attack, whilst goalkeeper Sam Freeman, signed that morning following an injury to Luke Glover, made some vital saves in a well-earned clean sheet.
Kris Oti entered the field with 65 minutes played, chasing and harrying the defence as he helped secure the points, whilst Luca Cocoracchio made his home debut alongside Will Miles at the back, as Nathan Cooper served the second of his three-match ban.
Last time out
It was tiring stuff against a side that would have leapt to the top of the league had they secured all three points on Saturday afternoon.
With chances sparse in a tense opening half – Beckenham’s Louie Theophanous coming closest in the opening exchanges – the game was ultimately decided in the 38th minute.
20 yards from goal, ball placed onto the turf; it was Charlie Harris at his most brilliant, most devastating as he struck superbly off of where post meets crossbar, sparking the adjacent Sea End into life.
And after Freeman once again denied Theophanous the Hawks saw out the remainder with relative ease. Luke Robinson coming closest to adding a second after following up a Joel Daly drive, but it need not matter as Saunders’ side returned to the play offs.
Separated only by goal difference but having played two games more, Ashford United arrive to the Sussex seaside this evening for the second time season, looking to right the wrongs of that 4-0 Velocity Cup defeat back in September.
Another pivotal fixture in the context of the campaign, Tommy Warrilow’s ‘Nuts and Bolts’ have endured a fluctuating season but steam into tonight on the back of a clinical 2-0 away win at Haywards Heath Town.
George Nikaj scorer of both goals, that made it three in two matches for the on-loan striker from Dover Athletic, who was recalled earlier in the season from Ashford after scoring nine goals in a two-month loan spell.
LWLWLLW – that’s been the story in Ashford’s previous seven league matches: an inconsistent feel to the winter months that Warrilow will no doubt want to correct this evening as they search for a route back into the play offs.
This will be the third meeting between the two sides this season, with that 4-0 drubbing followed by a 1-1 draw at Homelands Stadium in the reverse fixture – a wonderful Harris free-kick rescuing the Hawks on that windswept, rainy day in Kent.
Since the Hawks’ drop into the Isthmian League South East in 2019, the two sides have met on six occasions, with Whitehawk edging the head-to-head with three wins to Ashford’s two, with the lone draw earlier this campaign.
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