A goal in each half from impressive Ashford striker Rinor Sopjani was enough to see his strike retain all three points against a fairly lacklustre Hayes & Yeading side on Monday evening.
The opening ten minutes belonged to the hosts as most of the play was in the United half of the field, the visitors escaping narrowly in just the second minute when a scramble in the goalmouth saw Luke Daley grounded and as the ball was played past him, Leonel Da Goma was well placed to clear from inside the six yard box.
After this, United started to really dominate the game for a 15 minute spell of their own. Andrew Dean fed Isaac Osei-Tutu on the left side, he ran at the Ashford defence but put his shot inches wide from the edge of the area. Minutes later a Jeffrey Kimoto cross-field pass saw Osei-Tutu leave right-back Elliott Tate standing as he raced into the area only for his angled shot to hit the side netting.
Aristede Bassele then won possession inside the Ashford half, he quickly threaded the ball to Aaron Harriott who saw his 20 yard effort fly past keeper Tyler Tobin before crashing back off the crossbar.
Then on 25 minutes and against the run of play, the home side scored when a neat chip forwards by Perry Luckins saw David Femiola hesitate and Rinor Sopjani nipped in the fire the ball low past the on-coming Daley in the United goal.
Within 60 seconds it could have been worse for United as a Hailu Theodros free-kick from half-way was dropped by Daley at the feet of Sopjani but his snapshot from 8 yards was too high.
On the half hour mark it was United's turn to thank the woodwork as Tate and Sopjani combined on the right, the latter moving past three tackles before firing past Daley only for the ball to strike the near post before being cleared away to safety.
Soon after this narrow escape, the home side were on the offensive again as Mitchell Fountain intercepted a loose Femiola pass, exchanged passes with Sopjani before hitting a sipping shot that onlt just cleared Daley's goal.
The final effort of the half saw Harriott try his luck from distance for United but Tobin was never likely to be troubled as he confidently gathered the ball.
Sadly for United's youngsters, the second half to be one of their poorest of the season as they rarely found second gear, albeit against a very good Ashford side, and didn't really create a noteworthy effort on goal.
Elliott Legg, who raided well down the right in the first half, was forced off at the break with a groin injury, his replacement being central defender Prosper Ezewuzie which meant Da Goma moving to right-back.
Ashford started the second half well and just three minutes in a long pass was floated over Femiola to Rron Nurkollari but Daley was equal to his shot. Nurkollari almost turned provider on the hour mark when his corner picked out an unmarked Sopjani at the far post but from 8 yards he headed over.
Ten minutes later Sopjani was again causing United's defence grief as he weaved his way into the area only to be denied by Daley who blocked well with his feet. Sopjani was not to be denied another goal though and just six minutes later he latched onto a throughball and with Daley rushing out needlessly he just nipped past to United keeper and rolled the ball home from 20 yards.
The final effort of the evening came in the final ten minutes, again for the hosts, as Conor Molyneaux worked his way into the area before firing over the top from 12 yards. The final whistle came and Ashford had earned themselves a deserved three points to keep them very much in the race for the Ryman Youth League West Division title.
Report by Kevin Watts. Photos by Ray Peploe.
United Man of the Match: Aaron Harriott.