The 1st Qualifying Round of the Emirates FA Cup was played last weekend with 11 Middlesex clubs taking part. Your roving team visited the Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Westfield tie on Saturday. To reach this stage of the competition Ashford Town had beaten Saltdean United 8-0 (away) in the Extra Preliminary Round and Northwood 3-1 (away) after a 2-2 draw, in the Preliminary Round. Westfield had disposed of Eastbourne 2-0 (home) and Punjab United 2-1 (away).
A very watchable game was comfortably won by the visitors, who dominated for almost all of the match but were jolted by a mid-second half scare. This victory enabled Westfield to reach the 2nd Qualifying Round of the competition for the first time in their history.
Westfield took the initiative from the start. In the first minute Ashford keeper, Fred Chapman got a touch to a low drive from Billy Oram, which flew just wide. Then Troy Walters, who troubled the home defence throughout, was felled outside the box. Andrew Crossley took the free kick, which found Oram, whose shot was blocked. Next, a nod from Walters released Jacob Breckon, whose shot was defended at the expense of a corner. The kick was taken by Crossley, who played it low to Walters but his curling shot across goal just missed the far post.
Then Walters went on a good run and crossed for Nathaniel Mensah, whose drive was brilliantly saved at close range by Fred Chapman. All of this happened in the opening 6 minutes.
Jacob Breckon just failed to connect with Harry Carter’s cross and then Fred Chapman saved Troy Walters’ shot, which was hit with the outside of the foot from the edge of the penalty area.
Fred Chapman completes a double save by stopping Mensah's effort on the goal line...
Fred Chapman then made a double save. He palmed Walters’ high shot out and then stopped Mensah’s follow up effort on his goal line.
...Billy Oram thinks otherwise
Ashford’s first attack came after 20 minutes, when Wayne Ridgley lofted a long free kick into the visitors’ penalty area. The ball bobbled around and was eventually cleared.
Walters initiated another Westfield attack. The ball was played around the home goalmouth, until a drive from Andrew Crossley was held by Fred Chapman.
James Glover had a good chance for Westfield but he volleyed wide from Jacob Breckon’s cross. Brecon then had a couple of scoring chances himself. Dale Burnham blocked his drive and then he fired narrowly wide.
Westfield eventually took the lead in the 29th minute. Ashford pushed forward for a long free kick into the visitors’ penalty area by Wayne Ridgeley. The ball was headed away, hit out of the box and ran loose. It was collected by Breckon, whose through pass put Walters clear to place the ball past Fred Chapman.
Troy Walters (7) puts Westfield ahead
Lewis Flatman tried a long range shot for Ashford, from a central position but he was too high and then a cross by Danyaal Iqbal was taken low down by Westfield keeper, Sonny Wheeler.
At the other end, Chad Goulter threw himself to block Billy Oram’s shot, Troy Walters almost worked his way through the Ashford defence but was foiled by the weight of numbers and then Nathaniel Mensah fired across goal beyond the far post.
Score at half time: Ashford Town (Middlesex) 0 Westfield 1
Westfield almost doubled their score immediately after the interval, but Abraham Henao-Enomorado cleared off of the goal line from Nathaniel Mensah.
The visitors kept up the attack. Harry Carter’s shot narrowly cleared the bar. A cross by Troy Walters was cleared back to him and his subsequent drive was headed off of the goal line. Jacob Brecon was twice off target with his shots.
Mensah (2) scores Westfield's second
Westfield scored their second goal in the 63rd minute. Walters cut in and set up Mensah, who had the relatively easy task of placing the ball into the corner of the net.
Danyaal Iqbal attacked down the wing for Ashford and forced a corner, which he took himself but which was cleared. Then keeper, Sonny Wheeler beat Chad Goulter to the ball and kicked clear.
Luke Maguire jumps to head Ashford Town's first goal
Then events took everybody watching by surprise. In the 69th minute, substitute Luke Maguire, who was making his debut for Ashford, rose to head home Lewis Flatman’s long free kick.
Dale Burnham adds the second
Within 2 minutes, Luke struck again by flicking the ball on for Dale Burnham to head home from close range to level the scores.
So, after dominating the game for the first 65 minutes and building up a two- goal lead, Westfield surprisingly found themselves on level terms.
Ashford Town put Westfield's defence under pressure
However, after a jittery period of further Ashford Town pressure, during which Lewis Flatman pumped more long balls into their box and Luke Elliott headed a free kick from Lewis out of his keeper’s hands for a corner, the visitors regained their composure.
They recaptured the lead in the 78th minute. Within a minute of coming on as a substitute, Troy Timothy advanced up the right wing and cut the ball back to Mensah, who set up Walters to score from close range.
Walters (far right) makes it 3-2 to Westfield
Ashford Town now pressed for another equaliser. A move involving Flatman, Yakubu and Iqbal ended with the latter shooting over the crossbar. Then Flatman’s well struck free kick was headed away by skipper Luke Elliott, who was temporarily stunned by the power of the shot.
Luke Maguire’s cross was held by the under-pressure Sonny Wheeler, who then punched clear off of Dale Burnham’s head.
Jacob Breckon scored from close range, to make the game safe for his side in the 90th minute. He was able to take advantage of the fact that several members of the home defence had pressed up-field.
James Breckon (3) adds Westfield's 4th
Nathaniel Mensah almost scored a 5th goal for Westfield in added time but his shot hit the foot of the post.
Final score: Ashford Town (Middlesex) 2 Westfield 4
The match officials had an excellent game.
Ashford Town (Middlesex): Fred Chapman, Abraham Henao-Enomorado, Isy Nzelo (Ikpemwinoghena Yakubu 80 mins), Wayne Ridgley (Luke Maguire 61), Dale Burnham, Chad Goulter, Danyaal Iqbal, Prince Mbengui (Nash Doukoure 46), Ricky Johnson, Lewis Flatman and Sam Humphreys (capt).
Unused substitutes: Leonardo De Carvalho Pedro, and Nathaniel Kenlock.
Westfield: Sonny Wheeler, Nathaniel Mensah, Jacob Breckon, Harry Carter, James Glover, Jonathan Sanchez, Troy Walters (Jeremiah Debayo 83), Andrew Crossley (Bradley Walsh 82), Luke Elliott (capt), Billy Oram (Troy Timothy 77) and Jude Mason.
Unused substitutes: Lewis Rice and Joshua Samuels.
Referee: Fabio Roque Assistant Referees: Andrew Tregoning and Daniel Trout.
Four of the Middlesex clubs engaged at this stage of the competition were successful, all recording away victories - Hendon at Potton United (5-1), Hayes & Yeading United at Hythe Town (2-0), Hanwell Town at Eastbourne Town (2-0) and Uxbridge at Marlow (1-0).
Unfortunately, Enfield Town, Edgware & Kingsbury, North Greenford United, Harrow Borough, Hanworth Villa and also Spelthorne Sports, who lost a home replay, must wait another year for FA Cup glory.
As always we thank Chris & Jim for their time covering this match. As usual, they have taken some time to identify their favourite shots from the match, which can be found throughout the report. Chris has also very kindly provided us with a full album of imagery.
Chris & Jim's Picks
Full Album Courtesy of Chris Benn