Although there has been a bit of time to think about the results and performances from Saturday and last night I am no nearer having a clear view of whether you can draw any conclusions for the season ahead.
On Saturday we knew we had a tough match. Tonbridge are a good side, they have bought some class players in from higher leagues particularly their centre back Leon Legge who you can see from this link is a player Lewes wanted to keep in the Blue Square Premier and clearly following on from their strong finish last season they expect to challenge this year.
I thought we started very brightly but the sending-off changed everything both our own performance and theirs. It was frustrating not to put their stand-in keeper under more pressure but we did have enough chances to score – and in keeping with our pre-season form struggled to finish.
Still a point was not a bad performance and we would have taken it last night as well. My feeling on last night is that we (certainly the fans) are probably guilty of underestimating Ashford. Don’t forget they missed the play-offs by one place (2 points) last season. Someone commented on the WFC forum that they won’t finish in the top 8 this year – I wouldn’t agree.
My guess is that unlike Tonbridge, their budget probably isn’t that different to ours but they have the benefit of a side that has been together for some time, only a couple of new players to integrate and they play a very tough uncompromising game. I wonder if the likes of Marvin, Derek or Kieron have come across not just one Stuart Bamford but a team that seems to contain half a dozen Stuart Bamford’s constantly snapping at your heels, shutting you down and making life uncomfortable.
I think it is interesting that the general Ashford reaction to yesterday night is they felt like they have scraped a win in a game where there was nothing between the two sides and yet we are very disappointed with our performance.
This league was so tight last year and I am sure will be again. We always knew we had a tough start and nothing has changed there. But ultimately it will be down to Gordon to pick the right side and to those players to deliver what we know they are capable of. Billericay will be tough – but not impossible.
Keep the faith