Ashfield 4, AC Milanda 3
Scorers - Trialist 1, Murray, Preston
Team - Mitchell, O’Neill (Harley), Trialist 1, Evans, Di Folco, Reid, Grehan, Trialist 2, Preston, Murray, Macdonald. Subs not used: Trialist 3, Galbraith
Another hard luck story as Milanda failed to take the point they deserved from a seven-goal thriller. Despite improving greatly on their performance against Ashfield the previous week in the GDSML Cup, Kevin Grehan and Co again left the field feeling dejected. Apart from some dodgy defending, the overall performance was good and would probably have been sufficient to beat half the teams in the Premier Division. However, Ashfield have that little bit of extra quality in their ranks and that was what helped them take full points. How they haven’t won a title in the last couple of seasons is one of life’s great mysteries but the fact that Milanda could more or less match them gives hope for the battles to come.
Mind you, the Milanda team was strengthened by the inclusion of a couple of trialists, one in central defence and one in an attacking role, with a third on the bench who should get a run this weekend against Strathclyde University at Greenfield.The new-look line-up got off to a promising start and a fine Grehan pass put Trialist 2 beyond the Ashfield defence but the keeper saved his shot. It was not to be the last time the No.1 would rescue his side.
Ashfield hit back and took the lead two minutes later with a scrambled goal.
But Milanda were back on terms shortly afterwards when Mark Reid’s corner was met by the towering Trialist 1 and his thumping header soared into the net. The same duo almost did the trick again midway through the half but this time the crossbar saved Ashfield. Milanda then survived what looked a reasonable Ashfield penalty claim before taking the lead in the 32nd minute.
This time it stemmed from a good move that saw Paul Murray’s whipped cross from the left take a deflection and fly past the helpless keeper.
Unfortunately, Milanda were unable to enjoy being ahead because their opponents equalised straight away. That was a blow and only a goal-line clearance by Gary Di Folco prevented them regaining the lead. But Ashfield did edge 3-2 ahead before the break following a corner.
The feeling at half-time was there were more goals in the game and it was important Milanda scored the next one.
That’s exactly what happened. Two minutes in, a long throw by Murray was cleared only as far as Scott Preston and he hit a cracking shot in the roof of the net. Just before the hour mark, Trialist 1 was unlucky to be penalised for a handling offence outside the box and Paul Rodden, Ashfield’s best player, added insult to injury by firing the ball over the wall and into the roof of the net.
For the final half-hour of the match, Milanda were the dominant side. Trialist 2 was denied a couple of times by the keeper and had a penalty claim turned down, Trialist 1 had another header saved and other efforts weren’t far away.
But Ashfield held out and were genuinely relieved when the final whistle blew.
MOM: Both trialists played well and there were good performances from a few of the regulars, including Scott Preston and Kevin Grehan in central midfield. But this week’s award goes to Paul Murray for some good attacking play on the left and another goal from his box of unusual strikes.