So Near Yet So Far
Ashton Come So Close In Play Off Final
Ashton were within a penalty shoot out of reaching the Conference North but ultimately suffered the heartbreak of losing on penalties after the scores were still level after 120 minutes.
The underdogs made the perfect start on 7 minutes as a long clearance was misjudged by home keeper Hinchliffe allowing Martin Pilkington to race through on an open goal and give the visitors the advantage. Pilkington had another chance following a right wing cross from Lynch but put his left foot effort straight into Hinchliffe’s midriff. Shortly afterwards a great 1-2 between Pilkington and Aaron Chalmers saw the former’s effort deflected into the side netting with no corner mysteriously being awarded.
On 25 minutes a fine left wing cross by Sumner saw Michael Barnes head the hosts’ best chance to date over the top before winger Allen moved inside and picked out Booth who pulled his shot wide. As the interval approached a corner saw Allen’s flick reach Blinkhorn at the back post but he was unable to keep his header down.
The resumption saw a far more determined approach from the Coasters and within 5 minutes Booth had played Allen clear into the area with Phillips quickly out to block after which Sumner’s cross reached Michael Barnes at the far post who teed up Allen whose effort was blocked before full back Hankin strode forward and hit a left foot effort off target.
With the host’s pressure mounting it was no surprise that they found the equaliser on 70 minutes as Blinkhorn’s ball into the area found substitute Cooke firing home past Phillips at the near post. And so into extra time and a square pass by Pilkington saw Matty Chadwick’s swerving effort pushed away for a corner after which Jack Higgins was worryingly felled by a shot from Lloyd – fortunately he was able to continue but partly as an emergency striker.
In added time in the first period of extra time Cooke produced a superb piece of skill as he turned in midfield and chipped his effort over Phillips but off the underside of the bar and then a corner led to Allen’s effort being cleared off the line by Lynch before Allen chipped the rebound over the bar. The penalty shootout started with Sumner missing for the home side but Pilkington and Garry Gee were the unlucky men for Ashton leaving AFC Fylde to take the last place in the Conference North.
And so a momentous season ends for Ashton but surely no-one can be disappointed with Ashton’s achievements and much anticipation is already building for next season.
Team: Phillips, Lynch, Coo, Gorton, Higgins, Young, Chalmers, (Chadwick), Gee, Pilkington, Baguley (Rick), Coppin (Pearson). SNU: Kosylo, Halford.