Ashford United v Cray Wanderers – Saturday 15th September, 3pm
Saturday sees a return to league action following the FA Cup break last weekend with a cracking top of the table clash as Cray Wanderers travel to Ashford United. Kick off at the Homelands is 3pm.
Cray who are in second place in the admittedly very early stages of the season will be looking to bounce back from their rather unlucky defeat to Metropolitan Police in the FA Cup last Saturday. Despite fine goals from Junior Dadson and Michael Power in the first half, Cray took their leave from the Cup as the home side fought back in the second half but Cray played their part in the game and perhaps just couldn’t grab that third goal when on top. A return to the league sees Tony Russell’s side looking to maintain their 100% start to the season and yet to concede a league goal. There are four teams with maximum points to begin the season showing the quality in this league is high.
Ashford United are in fifth place and have had a free week after going of the FA Cup in the Preliminary Round. They too got off to a fine start to the season with a 3-1 home win against a very good Hythe Town side at home and followed this up with a 3-0 win in Guernsey and a 2-0 win at home to Faversham Town on Bank Holiday Monday. They lost their first game of the season in their last match 0-1 at Whitstable Town on 1st September. Top scorer is Ambrose Gnahore with 2.
Gary Alexander’s side were one of the heavily fancied teams to do well at the outset of the season and you feel they will have a huge part to play in the league this season and Cray will have to be at their very best to beat a Nuts n Bolts side which may well feature ex Cray captain Lea Dawson in midfield.
Last season was very much a case of Ashford getting acquainted with the Bostik South following promotion from the SCEFL Premier and finished 21st with admittedly a very young, inexperienced side but some quality reinforcements added during the summer make them very strong contenders this season for at least a playoff place.
The two meetings last season couldn’t have been anymore contrasting showing football’s unpredictable nature. On 17th January 2018, Cray caused a stir with an astonishing 9-1 win against Ashford on an evening game at Hayes Lane. When the two sides met again on 25th February, the tables were turned with Ashford winning 2-1 with two goals from Daniel Ajakaiye with Brandon Scott scoring for Cray.
Ashford United were reformed in 2011 after the original Ashford Town club who supporters may remember from our early days in the Isthmian League were suspended from competition at the end of the 2009-10 season and if you like re-booted themselves and worked their way back up from the Kent Invicta League to the SCEFL Premier in such a short space of time. We first met the original Ashford in league competition in 1906-07 and then for while in the Kent League in the 1930’s. Our paths crossed again many years later in the Isthmian League and there have been 22 meetings in the past with Cray winning 10, Ashford 9 and 3 draws.
This is one of the eye catching games of the day in the Bostik South-East tomorrow and one that will test Cray’s unbeaten start to the season but one the Wands will relish.
DIRECTIONS TO ASHFORD UNITED FC
Kent TN26 1NJ
Admission costs: £9.00 adults, £6.00 concessions (senior citizens/students) – U16s – free with an adult, £1 if unaccompanied.
Please note for Car travellers to Ashford that the M20 will be closed in both directions between J4 (A228) and J6 (A229) from 10pm on 14 September until 6am 17 September.
From the Crays, via the B258 and B2173 head for the M20 slip road signed Dover/Maidstone for 0.6 miles and then merge to the M20. Travel for 37.9 miles and at junction 10 take the A292/A2070 exit to Ashford/Brenzett. After 0.2 miles at the roundabout take the 4th exit onto Bad Munstereifel Road/A2070. After 1.1 miles at Orbital Park Roundabout take the 2nd exit and stay on Bad Munstereifel Road/A2070 for 0.9 miles and then keep right on Bad Munstereifel Road/A2042. After 0.4 miles take the 1st exit onto Ave Jacques Faucheux for 0.3 miles and then at the roundabout take the 2nd exit onto Ashford Road. After 1.3 miles, turn left and the Homelands will be on the left after 0.2 miles.
By train the nearest station is Ashford International which is around 3.2 miles from the ground and will require a taxi or bus number 11A from Stop R at the station to Smithfields Crossroads and then a half-mile walk. Please note however that this is not the most regular service in the world and after 12.00pm there is not another bus until after 5pm and there isn’t one after the game so the bus is probably not a wise option unless you like a hike back.
For train services from Bromley South, trains go to Ashford International at 12 and 42 past the hour taking 1 hr 12 minutes to get to Ashford or from St Mary Cray there is one per hour going direct at 18 past the hour. Returns to Bromley South or St Mary Cray leave Ashford at 05 and 33 past the hour.
There is a fairly large taxi rank at the station but if you need to book on the way back then Arrow Taxis – 01233 666 666 will return you to the station.
Taxis no – 01233 666999 or 01233 629292
I wouldn’t recommend you walk it from the station unless it is an absolute necessity but from Ashford International station after 0.1 mile turn right at Mill Ct, and after 0.3 miles turn left towards Norman Road/B2299 and after 0.3 miles turn left again to stay on Norman Road/B2299 then at the roundabout take the 1st exit onto Ave Jacques Faucheux /A2042 and stay for 1 mile then at the next roundabout take the 3rd exit onto Ashford Road. This is a fairly long walk but mostly flat and after 1.3 miles turn left and the Homelands will be on the left after 0.2 miles.
The nearest pub to the ground is the Queens Head on Ashford Road and apparently does a smashing fried breakfast for any early birds. This is the only pub even remotely close to the ground so you will more than likely need to go into Ashford. Nearest to the station is the Kent Arms on Station Road. On the Hythe Road is the Windmill Inn On Torrington Road about 0.3 miles from the station are the Riverside Inn and the South Eastern Tavern.
Not too many chippies on the way to the ground I’m afraid with the nearest to Kingsnorth being Skippers Fish Bar and Café on Stanhope Road (TN23 5EW). For Indian food there is Tandoori Nights on Torrington Road but that is a bit of a trek to the ground from here. If you are planning to perhaps stay for the night then the Paper Duck Buffet Food restaurant in North Street (TN24 8JN) offers Chinese, Indian, Japanese and Italian food in around 60 different recipes. For more traditional matchday food you might be better sticking to the wares on offer at the Homelands.
Ashford was at one time an agricultural market town but has been transformed into a major travel and communications hub through its close proximity to the English Channel and since the opening of the channel tunnel and in 1994 the International railway station was completed and is one of the busiest in the UK.
The ground itself lies just over three miles from Ashford itself in Kingsnorth. This area is a reminder of its rural past and can be classed as agricultural Kent. In the 1960’s Ashford was earmarked in London as a possible location for a commuter belt for the overspill of people from the capital to live. With a pretty steady flow of trains from London and access to the M20 it was considered ripe for development. Many European companies are now based there with the links to the channel and they have one of the busiest designer shopping centres outside of London with the Ashford Designer Outlet which has around 120 shops in the complex. There is St. Mary’s Church which dates back to the 13th century and also doubles as an Arts Centre. The Ashford Green Corridor is a large area of Green Space all linked together including parks and fields and is a hive of wildlife and heritage.
I suppose the only down side with a trip to Ashford and football is that the ground is so far away as the whole area has something to offer and has been an upwardly mobile town since the 1960’s with lots to do and see..