5 months ago
By Steve Hobson
Report by David Robinson. Picture Jez Sayle
Ashton Utd scaled the mountain to make it to the National League North in Jody Banim’s first full season as manager with a deserved victory over Grantham Town. Despite the fire brigade having watered the pitch the previous day the surface was bouncy due to the recent sunny weather as the hosts fielded an unchanged line up from the semi-final win over Farsley.
With very little between the teams in the final league table standings a close encounter was expected and the visitors were first on to the attack as a long ball saw Lewis Baines clear in front of Lee Shaw. Tom Potts’ swinging cross was then headed wide by Curtis Burrows but at the other end Ashton had a clear opportunity on 4 minutes as Daniel Mooney failed to get a significant enough touch on Sam Sheridan’s clever delivery allowing Kieran Preston to make a low save.
Dom Smalley was then booked for diving as he appeared to be caught and another Sheridan pass almost released Mooney. Lee Shaw then picked up a flick with Baines on hand to block and Liam Tomsett’s pass then saw Mooney’s deflected cross tipped away by Preston at the far post. Preston was then just out in time ahead of Mooney and a long ball found Shaw who was crowded out by Aaron Chalmers. Tom Batchelor then blocked off Tomsett after a neat turn with Baines heading Sheridan’s free kick just wide of the far post.
Tomsett’s touch through midfield proved just too strong and Dom Smalley’s free kick found Mooney ghosting in to bring the best out of Preston as the hosts increased the pressure. Two vital blocks by Josh Granite then kept Andrew Wright at bay and John Pritchard latched on to a long cross field pass forcing Preston to make a good save with his left foot as the interval arrived with the score line blank.
The Robins began the second half in determined fashion with Nicky Platt well wide almost direct from the kick off and Mooney’s left wing cross too long – the return ball from Pritchard deflecting off Stefan Galinski requiring another save from Preston with Deane Smalley helping the loose ball over the top under challenge. Mooney then shot wide from halfway and his pull back saw Tomsett denied close in. On 53 minutes Shaw cut inside and brought a save out of Ollerenshaw – pretty much the Gingerbreads’ first effort on target.
After 57 minutes the goal the whole of Ashton wanted arrived as a through ball saw Tomsett get the better of the advancing Preston to slide home from a narrow angle, almost in slow motion as these things often are. Jack McGovern was then booked for halting Tomsett as Baines’ through ball was helped wide by Mooney. Potts then joined his teammate in the book for catching Mooney high and Jordan Hempenstall twisted on the edge of the area but shot too high.
Michael Hollingsworth then picked up a throw in and shot straight into Ollerenshaw’s arms and with 14 minutes left sub Jack Dyche cut inside and saw his effort come back off the near post with him putting the rebound just over the bar. Ashton were not to be denied however and with 3 minutes to go Pritchard’s run and left wing cross gave another sub Nic Evangelinos an unmissable chance in front of goal and the action finished with the heroic centre back pairing of Granite and Chalmers blocking efforts from McGovern and Danny Meadows and also Lees Shaw close in before the celebrations started.
Ashton Utd: Ollerenshaw, Dom Smalley, Baines, Granite, Chalmers, Sheridan, Platt, Tomsett, Deane Smalley (Evangelinos 82), Pritchard (Chadwick 90), Mooney( Dyche 71) . SNU: .Roberts, Woodford.
Grantham Town Preston, Potts, Luto, Hollingsworth, Galinksi (Hakeem 80), Batchelor, Meadows, Wright (McGovern 57), Hempenstall, Lee Shaw, Burrows (Osbourne 62) SNU: Lewis, Soloha
Post match quotes:
Adam Stephens (Grantham Town) – No complaints, we didn’t show up today, full credit to Ashton Utd – they deserved to win.
Jody Banim (Ashton Utd) – Ecstatic, thoroughly deserved, cagey first half with 2 or 3 chances, dominated the second half and could have won 3-0 or 4-0.