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Ashford United assistant manager Tommy Osborne welcomes Tommy Penfold to Homelands and praises the departed Ben Gorham

Ashford have high hopes for new signing Tommy Penfold after saying farewell to Ben Gorham.

Centre-back Gorham left Homelands at the end of last week, with Penfold filling the void.

Ben Gorham has left Ashford. Picture: Ian Scammell
Ben Gorham has left Ashford. Picture: Ian Scammell

He knows the area well, counting Homelands tenants Kennington among his former clubs, and joins the Nuts & Bolts from old Isthmian South East rivals Hastings.

Ashford beat Hastings 4-2 on penalties after a goalless draw on Tuesday last week to reach the semi-finals of the League Cup.

Penfold had already left the Sussex side by then, with his move to Ashford announced on Friday.

“We think he’ll be a good addition to the squad,” said Ashford assistant manager Tommy Osborne.

“He left Hastings a week earlier than the cup game - it was just coincidence we happened to be playing Hastings.

“He trained with us on Thursday and made his debut on Saturday (2-2 draw at Merstham).

“We feel he can add real value to us. He’s a local lad and it works well for him and for us.

“He’s someone who gives us quality at the back.”

Gorham, 29, leaves Ashford after 69 appearances across two spells, electing to move on.

“I thought Ben did really well for us,” said Osborne.

“He’s a good lad and wherever he ends up, I’ve no doubt he’ll do well.

“He’s a good player who performed well so I’m sure he’ll keep that consistency and level of performance up.”

Not for the first time this season, Ashford let slip a two-goal lead last weekend.

Vance Bola and Jordan Ababio put the visitors in charge but they allowed Merstham back into the game.

Ashford United manager Tommy Osborne. Picture: Ian Scammell
Ashford United manager Tommy Osborne. Picture: Ian Scammell

Osborne said: “It’s bitterly disappointing because in the first half we were very much on top in the game.

“We were a threat going forward and Merstham weren’t offering much going the other way.

“But when they got their goal we lost control and I thought the composure we had when we were 1-0 and 2-0 up went.

“We were on the back foot for 15/20 minutes and when it went to 2-2 you really felt Merstham were in a position where they could go on and win the game.

“But we did manage to turn it around and regain momentum and I thought if anyone was going to score in the last 15 minutes, it was us.

“That’s the third or fourth time we’ve led by two goals and not won the game.

“When you look back at the end of the season, those dropped points potentially make a big difference.

“It can happen over the course of a season but it’s happened too many times.

“We’d be in a much healthier position if we’d done better when we had those two-goal leads.”

Ashford, 11th in Isthmian South East, host 13th-placed Horndean on Saturday (3pm).

They’re due to meet again in a couple of weeks in a rearranged league game.

“They’ve turned their season around a bit,” said Osborne.

“They’ve had some fantastic results and they’ll be looking at Saturday thinking they can get something from it.

“But we go into it undefeated in three and we’re going to try and put on a good performance and get the win.”

Ashford have silverware on their minds after reaching the last four of the League Cup.

The draw has yet to be made but of the completed quarter-final fixtures, possible opponents include Chatham.

Osborne said: “I know sometimes clubs look at these cups not as a hindrance but not as a priority.

“But if you can get to quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals, it makes the season quite enjoyable.

“Now we’re in the last four you’re determined to try and go all the way and win it. Why not?

“It’s good to have a cup run. You don’t always manage to get to semi-finals and finals in your football career, so now we’re in that position, we’re going to welcome it and embrace it and try and go all the way.”

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