Report by David Robinson. Photo Jez Sayle
A dramatic afternoon at Hurst Cross saw Ashton hold high flying Hednesford to a draw despite the visitors’ fine away record which has seen them lose only once on their travels. The Pitmen had the better of the first period and came closest when a free kick from Woolfe saw Bailey’s header tipped over by Phillips and then the visiting winger weaved his way to the edge of the area before shooting straight at the keeper.
For the home side a good build up down the right wing saw Matty Kosylo’s cross blocked and then Lennon had a effort from the edge of the area which was dragged wide of the target when he should have done better. Woolfe then got free down the left hand side and picked out Rey who side footed his effort wide of the far post. Ashton hit back as Barlow set Kosylo free down the right and collected the return pass but side footed straight at Crane and the half ended with Woolfe making progress down the right before cutting inside and setting up Durrell whose effort was narrowly too high.
The second half had only just begun when Craig Robinson failed to deal with a through ball which allowed Rey to pull the ball back to Lennon who opened the scoring with a low effort despite Lynch’s best efforts. McPherson immediately volleyed straight at Phillips for the visitors who seemed to have set Ashton a tough task to get back in the game, but the action was about to take a dramatic twist.
Halfway through the half a long ball by Johnson was hooked back from the byline by Hogan to leave Barlow with a tap in and then a fine long clearance by Frost set Hogan through on Crane who won the first challenge but then lost the ball to Hogan who finished superbly from a narrow angle in a manner not dissimilar to Aguero’s goal against Liverpool.
Ashton now had their tails up but Hednesford showed why they are challenging for the title as top scorer Durrell sidestepped a challenge and fired a left foot effort past the apparently unsighted Phillips for the equaliser. Shortly afterwards Osborne went down under challenge from Robinson in the area and amidst wild claims for a penalty was booked for diving.
As if the crowd hadn’t seen enough excitement Ashton then almost grabbed the winner as Frost set Barlow free and his cross was scuffed against the post almost in slow motion by substitute Sherriff when scoring looked far simpler. Rey almost had the final word but his header was held by Phillips to leave the crowd breathless after a fine afternoon’s entertainment.
Team; Phillips - Frost, Robinson, Lynch, Caldecott - Kosylo (Johnson), Baker, Moore, Hogan - Burns (Sherriff), Barlow.
SNU Burke, Baguley, Harrop