A single moment of quality was enough to send Ashton into the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup after an entertaining encounter in Norfolk where finishing was at a premium. The decisive strike came on 72 minutes as Ramirez Howarth making his debut from the bench just 8 minutes earlier swept home Matty Chadwick’s square pass after a combination with Bradley Jackson.
With Craig Hobson departed Chadwick was leading the line for the Robins and captain Mark Lees was restored at right back and it was left back Matt Regan whose tackle just put off advancing full back Aaron Jones after 2 minutes. Dom McHail then let a clear chance go begging as he was dispossessed by Jones just outside the area as the game got off to an open start on the wide expanses of the Walks ground.
A fine move then saw Casian Anghel spread the play to McHail who cut inside before missing the far post and he then saw a low effort saved, meanwhile at the other end Limb made space and saw his cross blocked by Lewis Baines for a corner which saw McAuley head Clunan’s floated cross wide. Bradley Jackson’s cross then saw Chadwick’s header held at full stretch by Street before Michael Gash was just crowded out from Blake-Tracy’s incisive pass as the hosts started to get on top.
Limb then made insufficient contact with Jarvis’s cross as Parker shot straight at Pilling from Hawkins’ pull back and with the interval approaching Parker’s shot was blocked at the last minute after good build up play and Hawkins’ curling effort was palmed away by Pilling.
The visitors made a better start to the second half as Chadwick won a corner and then curled an effort past the far post and also missed the same post from McHail’s pass.
The Linnets then came even closer as Gash headed Blake-Tracy’s cross past the near post with the goal gaping and after Parker had missed his kick in front of goal Hawkins’ shot was cleared off the line by Baines with Pilling beaten. Sam Sheridan was then fouled 25 yards out and put the free kick narrowly wide and straight after Ashton had taken the lead Pilling had to make a good low save from Hawkins skidding free kick.
With ten minutes left Gash’s header at the far post saw Hilliard’s effort grabbed right on the goal line by Pilling after Blake-Tracy had again set up the attack and Luke Ashworth then denied Hawkins close in before Pilling caught Gash’s volley.