Tight At The Top!
Fans treated to cracker at windy Croft Park. Report by David Robinson.
Ashton United gained a battling point in Northumberland following a fine encounter at Spartans’ Croft Park ground. The FA Cup Heroes were first out of the blocks and made a determined start which put the visitors on the back foot as star winger Robbie Dale put over a left wing cross which just evaded Wearmouth at the back post before another cross went dangerously across the penalty area. Wearmouth and full back Nicholson then combined before the cross was blocked and Ashton started to get a foothold in the game as Ben Deegan won a free kick which Greg Pearson curled too high.
Dale was soon back in the act as he stepped past Mason before forcing Phillips to beat away his shot with Pearson completing the clearance, and Hooks then moved in on goal after a sharp exchange of passes but was denied by Phillips’ quick thinking. With the break in sight the hosts almost made the breakthrough as Hooks’ 25 yard effort was denied by a combination of Phillips’ fingertips and the post and there was still time for Wearmouth to step inside several challenges before seeing his left foot effort deflected narrowly wide onto the stantion, most of the crowd being fooled into thinking the deadlock had been broken.
Within 10 minutes of the restart the hosts moved ahead as Nicholson picked up the ball on the right wing and ran right across the edge of the penalty area before clipping his effort past Phillips – the ball appearing to be helped over the line by Jay Gorton. As the Robins pressed forward a lightning break from Ashton’s corner saw Maguire collect Wearmouth’s return pass and bear down on Phillips before lobbing a clear chance over the top.
Ashton fashioned the equaliser following a couple of substitutions as replacement Chris Baguley played a forward pass which found Martin Pilkington beating the offside trap and lifting the ball over Thomson before cooling completing the job. The entertainment was unrelenting as both sides now sought the winner and Dale Johnson missed a great chance as he burst into the area and checked back on to his left foot before his shot was blocked.
Maguire then backheeled Richardson into space with Phillips once again to the rescue and then Gorton headed away Dale’s dangerous curling effort before Richardson sent a 20 yard effort whistling wide of goal with Phillips rooted to the spot.
Team: Phillips, Mason, Pearson, Gorton, Higgins, Young, Rick, Gee, Deegan (Johnson), Pilkington (Hill) & Coppin (Baguley).
SNU: Briggs & Wilson.