Ashton: We don’t fear Everton

Jon Ashton, Graham Westley and Jimmy Smith talk to the media. Photo: Harry Hubbard

Jon Ashton, Graham Westley and Jimmy Smith talk to the media. Photo: Harry Hubbard - Credit: Archant

Experienced Stevenage defender, who began his career with Leicester City in the Premier League, says Boro are relishing the chance of facing another top flight opponent

When Jon Ashton faced the nation’s media on Tuesday ahead of this weekend’s FA Cup match he told the assembled journalists about how, when he was starting out as a professional footballer at Leicester City, he faced an Everton side featuring Duncan Ferguson.

“I was only a youngster at the time. I’d only made a couple of appearances before that. I just remember him being a lot taller than me, and obviously his reputation was for being a bit of a hard man. But I didn’t fear him,” Ashton said.

“Being at that age maybe I played in awe of him a little bit, but that was over 10 years ago. I’ve matured a lot since then, and hopefully I can say that roles have been reversed and I can say that I put the fear into people I play against.”

Ferguson scored in that game – it ended 2-2 at Goodison Park – but the story, which Ashton has retold to his team-mates this week as they prepare for the match with Everton, serves as a reminder that although a Premier League side comes to town on Saturday, Boro should not be intimidated.

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In Ashton, Chris Day (Spurs, QPR), Michael Doughty (QPR), Luke Freeman (Arsenal), Bruno Andrade (QPR), Peter Hartley (Sunderland) and Jimmy Smith (Chelsea), Boro have a number of players who have either played in the Premier League themselves, or who have been brought through the ranks of some of the biggest clubs in the UK.

Ashton, speaking to the Comet, acknowledges this, and when you stand face-to-face with him – a face that manager Graham Westley quipped has ‘27 scars on it’ – and he says that Boro ‘fear no-one’ you know that he means it.

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“We’ve probably shown over recent years that we can hold our own against Premier League opposition,” he said.

“I was fortunate enough to play in the Newcastle game, we won 3-1. I was fortunate enough to play in the Tottenham game here and we drew and then took them to a replay.

“We fear no-one, and we’ll go into Saturday’s game full of confidence.

“No doubt [Everton] are a good team, their league position proves that.

“They’re a good footballing side and they like to get the ball down and play but like we showed at their place earlier in the season we can match them.

“We like a good cup run here. We see ourselves as the underdog and we like to shock the footballing world.

“We like to prove ourselves and show people that Stevenage is a force to be reckoned with.

“Last season unfortunately I missed most of it due to injury but I was still part of the club and I was still wanting the club to progress and do well. It was disappointing that we didn’t have a [cup] run last season but we’ll be looking to make amends this season.”

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