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Match Report


August 26, 2021

Canterbury City 1 Ashford International 1

Anyone who has followed our fortunes in the league this season could be forgiven for expecting another heavy defeat in this fixture.  Indeed, large numbers of goals against have been the norm and our away game against Ashford at the end of June resulted in a 7-1 defeat which was, frankly, deserved.

But … it’s a funny old game!

No, we didn’t win, but we held a very strong side to draw which we thoroughly merited. Ashford needed to win their final three games to finish champions and were probably expecting this to be the easiest of them.  Not so.

Lance’s team talk before the game was well-directed and to the point.  At last, we carried out his instructions to the letter and to a man and woman we did him, our teammates and our club proud.  Right from the kick-off it was obvious that there was something very determined about our attitude.  There was much more talking, encouragement and advice from all players to each other.

The defensive pairing of Dave R and John proved a difficult barrier for the Ashford attack to break down.  Both were exceptional in their positioning and John, proving a difficult opponent as always, often denied them progress down the left.  Dave marshalled his fellow defenders throughout and, when the opportunities arose, his passing was a joy to behold.

And when Ashford did get through to fire shots on target, Jan made some excellent saves to deny them.

In midfield, Rupert and Colin were determined to disrupt Ashford when they were in possession, and to create opportunities and openings for us when we had it.  They gave Ashford no time to pass the ball around us, as they had done in our first game, and created numerous problems for their defence.  Cedric, in a forward midfield role proved to be a willing, frequently successful, link between front and back, and positioned himself cleverly to allow Dave to use him as an outlet.

Up front, Ian battled hard against some very good defenders and gave them no peace.  His constant cajoling and encouragement to his teammates were a huge bonus in keeping our determination going.

Our reward came mid-way through the first half when a lovely passing move saw Colin through on goal and he beat the keeper easily.  One-nil at half time didn’t flatter us.

For the second half, Lance sent on Brian in place of John, and Jo to take Ian’s position up front.  Nothing changed.  Brian slotted seamlessly into John’s role as a terrier-like tackler and Jo followed Lance’s instructions perfectly by taking a central forward role.  She was very unlucky to be denied a couple of goals by the referee’s whistle - once for a colleague’s running and once for marginally encroaching the area.  She also had a good shot well saved by the Ashford ‘keeper. There were other near-misses too, and Rupert also hit the bar.

Inevitably, Ashford also had their chances and eventually scored as a result of a free kick close to the box, which left Jan unsighted.  We continued to frustrate them, however, and they became more desperate to get the winner.  It never came.

At the end, we celebrated it like a victory for we had delivered by far our best performance this season, and everyone knew that they had each played a significant part in it.

A special word for Simon.  This was his first competitive match as a referee, and he acquitted himself very well.  He was authoritative and, in our opinion, fair.  No referee gets everything right and whilst Ashford’s captain blamed Simon for their defeat, they should look at themselves.  Their misdemeanours were at least equal to ours and, indeed, Simon penalised us more than them.  Most of the Ashford players agreed that we had played very well, and they had been, initially, too complacent and, ultimately, too anxious for a win that they lost their way.

Bravo Canterbury!

Report by Dave Rayner and Jan Knott

(Footnote:  Ashford’s captain has since contacted Jan to sportingly apologise for his comments after the game.  He has congratulated us for the way we played and acknowledged that we deserved the result.)