Tuesday 12 November 2019
Ashford United U23s 4 v Horsham U23s 1
Bluefin Development League
at the Homelands Stadium, Ashford, Kent

Reporter: Darryl Jacobs

The young Hornets came up against a very talented Ashford United side last night and were soundly beaten 4-1 with two goals apiece from lively strikers Leroy Hlabi and Aaron Kragbe, with Archie Goddard supplying Horsham’s consolation goal.

Ashford United, showing the confidence that comes from an unbeaten run of games at home this season, took the initiative right from the first whistle. With excellent movement and passing they caught the Hornets cold in the 6th minute with an easy goal snapped up by striker Hlabi, who pounced on a loose ball following a save from Hornets stand in ‘keeper Ross Butterfill. Ten minutes later the ‘Nuts and Bolts’, dominant in this period of the game, extended their lead through striker Kragbe, heading in from a cross following a sweeping attack down the right flank which caught both the Hornets defence and ‘keeper Butterfill flat-footed.

Horsham had no answer to the speedy movement of the young Ashford side and their task was made no easier when defender Trent Fawcett had to be replaced through injury in the 15th minute. With no defender on the bench, Kieran Holmes came on in place of midfielder Sam Gallagher who slotted in to the back four alongside Joel Mann. Horsham were unable to get much possession or retain the ball so it was no surprise when the home side got a third goal and effectively took the game away from their opponents. Receiving a pass, totally unmarked in the box, Hlabi crashed the ball home with a blistering shot for 3-0 .

Horsham’s forwards, isolated up front, had very little in the way of chances but in the 30th minute, against the run of play, Goddard received a pass into the box which he slotted home from close range to narrow the deficit. However any hopes of a comeback were dashed with an outstanding fourth goal for Ashford when the talented Kragbe dispossessed Horsham’s right-back Ned Pierre on the left flank and dinked a delightful chip, from an acute angle, over the stranded Butterfill. It was better from Horsham just before the break when a good move involving Holmes and Goddard put Sam Karl in on goal but his effort was pushed away for a corner .

H/T Ashford United U23s 4 Horsham 1

Horsham came out in the second half refocused, needing to get on the front foot and get attackers Goddard and Karl, starved of the ball in the first half, into the game. With the introduction of Harry Brooker for the injured Pierre, just minutes after the restart, they now had three strikers and so the possession-based passing game which had been overrun by the opposition in the first half, gave way to a long, more direct, approach. This strategy did work, mixing up the game and taking the pressure off the Horsham midfield. Both Butterfill and the Horsham defenders, when distributing the ball, were looking long for the Horsham forwards.

In the 53rd minute Brooker fed the ball to Goddard who forced a good save from Ashford ‘keeper Aaron Lee-Wharton, and a few minutes later Lee-Wharton was called into action again when he tipped a free-kick from Kieran Britland over the bar. Horsham were pushing onto their opponents, unsettling their organised passing game, and what was a very one-sided match in the first half was now fairly even, although it must be said that the young Ashford side, with the game won, were playing well within themselves.

The last period of the game became quite scrappy and with the ‘job done’ the Ashford manager used his three substitutes to good effect. Horsham saw out the game without conceding again, thanks to a couple of good stops from Butterfill, and battled well until the end despite having both Gallagher and Sam Karl limping with injuries.

F/T: Ashford United U23s 4 Horsham 1

Team: Ross Butterfill (GK), Ned Pierre (Harry Brooker), Joel Mann, Trent Fawcett (Kieron Holmes), Kieran Britland, Alex Parsons, Mateius Mulugeta, Sam Gallagher, Will Gordon, Archie Goddard, Sam Karl.







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