Ashford lift Kent Reliance Senior Trophy
Ashford lift Kent Reliance Senior Trophy

Twelve months after losing the Trophy in a penalty shoot-out, Danny Lye and his Ashford United side finally got their hands on the silverware as they came from behind against a Cray Valley side who pushed the Nuts and Bolts all the way.

Cray had the ideal start as they were ahead inside three minutes when Lawrence Collins fired them in front as Ashford failed to clear.

Sadly for Cray they couldn’t contain veteran striker Shaun Welford who rolled back the years as he first brilliantly beat two defenders to equalise before sealing the win by out jumping keeper Jordan Casey to head home at the back post.

Whilst Welford will take the plaudits for the two goals, the Ashford win was built on a magnificent display at the heart of defence by skipper Stuart West and Pat Kingwell upon whom the best Cray Valley had to offer regularly foundered.

Ashford boss Lye was a relieved man when he spoke to KSN after the game.  “After losing last year and today we didn’t play well, and when you don’t play well you just hope and pray that the gods will let you have it!”

“We’ve had a tough year but a very good season, and this is just to get the momentum going for our push for the League – it’s great to get a first piece of silverware after last year, but we’re now going to focus on winning the League.”

For James Collins, the Cray Valley boss, it was still a proud afternoon.

He explained to KSN, “I’m massively proud of the players as I thought we played really well. They beat us 5-2 a couple of weeks ago and I’m just glad that we gave a really good account of ourselves today.”

“I set high standards for myself and the League and we turned up today expecting to win to be honest – hopefully it will make us stronger as I think we’ve come on a long way this year!”

Cray made the ideal start as in only the third minute the Ashford defence made a right hash of clearing a free kick and Collins was on hand to sweep Jason Thompson’s ball back into the box into the net.

Ashford had to then chase the game yet for all their possession, Cray keeper Jordan Carey wasn’t troubled. Indeed the closest Ashford came was when Shaun Welford got on the end of a delightful ball into the box but couldn’t direct his effort on goal.

That proved just to be a sighter as on 25 minutes, the veteran striker levelled – a ball into him still left him with a lot to do, but he superbly held off a couple of defenders before sliding the ball past Carey and into the bottom corner.

He nearly added a second just a couple of minutes later but was denied by a great clearance by Ashley Sains. Ashford were well and truly on top and Jason Goodchild went close from distance before Ashford keeper George Kamurasi was smartly off his goal-line to deny Aaron Rhule.

Carey then recovered well at the other end from not gathering a Dave Botterill free kick cleanly to deny Ryan Palmer and in Ashford’s very next attack Rory Hill should have put them in front as he raced onto Welford’s ball only to shoot across the face of goal when he should have at least hit the target.

If Cray Valley had hoped that the interval would knock Ashford out of their stride they got their wish as it was Cray who enjoyed the best of the early stages with Ben Francis just millimetres away from converting Denzel Gayle’s driven centre.

Hill then tested Carey at the other end as the baking conditions started to take their toll – the Cray keeper pushing out the Ashford man’s low drive, and as chances started to come at both ends, Collins fired narrowly past the left post after a good run, before Hill forced Carey into the save of the game – full length away to his left to turn a side a stinging drive.

Ashford finally got their noses in front ten minutes from time when Carey misjudged a superb long cross from George Savage, Welford out-jumping the keeper brilliantly at the far post as he steered his header into the net.

So Ashford finally get their hands on some silverware after a hugely enjoyable Final – will it be the springboard that boss Danny Lye hopes will lead to a League Trophy double?  Time will tell…


Ashford United – George Kamurasi, George Savage, Fraser Walker, Dave Boterill, Stuart West, Pat Kingwell, Ryan Palmer, Danny Stubbs (Adrian Stone 70), Shaun Welford, Jason Goodchild, Rory Hill

Subs not used – Luke Eldridge, Brandon Williams, Harry Lavender, Danny Lye

Cray Valley PM –Jordan Carey, Taylor McDonagh, Jamie Wood (Alastair Gordon 70), Ashley Sains, Laurence Collins, Denzel Gayle, Jason Thompson, Ben Francis (Steve Springett 81), Enoch Adjei, Aaron Rhule (Ryan Fowler HT)

Subs not used – Tom Fitzgerald, Tom Young

Referee – Ben Bowles

Assistants – Jamie Eacott, Joe Dann-Pye, Joe Stokes

Pictures supplied by PSP Images