Historic Day for Club Ends in Passage to Second Qualifier
Report by Steve Lee.
Ashton United recovered from a shaky start to record their biggest win of the season against North West Counties side Runcorn Town to secure a passage to the second qualifying round of the FA Cup.
The visitors, who play two divisions lower in the football pyramid began with confidence and made the early running, James McShane produced an early long range effort that went wide and then the woodwork saved Ashton as Warren Bellen's shot from outside of the area hit the bar.
It therefore came as no surprise when Runcorn took the lead with a well worked goal as Jason Carey's centre was turned home at the near post by McShane.
Ashton's first effort on target saw Jonathon Bathurst get on the end of a cross from Ben Smith, but his header was easily held by Karl Wills.
Wills was beaten after twenty minutes as Ashton levelled, good work from Matty O'Neill saw him set up Peter Wright, who raced onto the ball and found the bottom corner of the net.
O'Neill was causing Runcorn problems and when he was impeded nine minutes later, the referee awarded a penalty, much to Town's disbelief. Wills did get a hand to Wright's penalty kick, but failed to stop the striker hitting his fourth goal inside a week.
Ashton were a whisker away from a third when a run out of defence from Kyle Harrop following the breakdown of a Town corner ended with a pass to Smith, who cut inside but his effort hit the post.
Runcorn had the last effort of the half with McShane denied by Terry Smith after his initial effort was blocked.
The Robins upped the pace in the second half, Bathurst headed wide from a Smith cross and Smith tried from long range but Wills easily saved.
Ashton took control of proceedings with a quickfire double just before the half hour mark as Runcorn's challenge faltered. Smith, enjoying his best Ashton game of the season traded passes with Wright, before Ian Bennett raced onto a through ball and fired past Wills.
Two minutes later Smith's cross appeared to be drifting out of play when O'Neill produced an overhead kick into the six yard box that found Bathurst unmarked to tap home a simple fourth.
The last fifteen minutes were controlled by the Robins who looked likely to increase their lead with every attack, substitute Chris Amadi did succeed with a breathtaking goal as he used his pace to blistering effect down the left flank before an exquisite lob for Ashton's fifth.
Smith then set up Aaron Burns who was denied by a fine save from Wills, who did well to deny fellow substitute Wayne Cahill soon after. Smith came close to a deserved goal as he used his close control to good effect, only to curl his shot wide of the target. Burns was unable to add his name onto the scoresheet as his shot from an unselfish pass by Amadi went wide, but by then the tie was well over as a contest although the scoreline didn't reflect the contribution made by Runcorn in a thoroughly entertaining match.
Ashton United: T Smith, J Rose, Dawson, Lambert, Melling, Harrop, O'Neill (Cahill 59), Bennett (Burns 59), Bathurst (Amadi 66), Wright, B Smith. subs not used Madeley, Lacy, Rimmer
Shots On target, ASH 11-3 RUN
Shots Off target: ASH 9-9 RUN
Corners: ASH 4-4 RUNOffside: ASH 0-2 RUN
Free kicks conceded: ASH 7-9 RUN
Yellow cards: ASH 0-2 RUN
Red cards: ASH 0-0 RUN