Johnson delivers three points on the road!
Robins leave the 'Gladiator Arena' with the thumbs up! Report by David Robinson.
A single goal was enough for Ashton to take all three points at Matlock Town’s Autoworld Arena as the hosts made their first appearance under new manager Mark Hume. The visitors had Kevin Leadbetter making his debut in midfield but it was Dale Johnson who provided the decisive strike on 19 minutes after strike partner Martin Pilkington had robbed Black in the home defence and set him up for a composed finish.
Prior to this the game got off to a cagey opening with the Gladiators trying to impress their new boss and both teams struggling to find any fluency on a bobbly surface which had survived a morning inspection. The hosts could have levelled four minutes after the opener as a floated corner from Black was headed wide by Banton from a promising position and just past the half hour Pilkington almost intercepted Sabo’s headed backpass but was just denied by Kennedy’s right hand. The debutant Leadbetter then made a superb run from left to right and collected Haslam’s pass before putting in a cross which Pilkington headed just over.
The second half got off to a somewhat controversial start as Pilkington fired a cross right across the area before he was brought down by Black who as the last man was only yellow carded and Ashton then went close again as Kayde Coppin’s cross saw Johnson’s effort close in deflected for a corner. The hosts were still striving to find the equaliser as an attempted clearance rebounded to substitute McManus who was denied by Phillips from a tight angle.
Good work by Johnson on the right wing then saw him play in Pilkington whose shot was blocked by a defender before Johnson put Martin Hill clean through but the substitute knocked the ball too close to Kennedy allowing the keeper to effect the save. A 40 yard run from Coppin then presented a clear chance to Johnson who took too long and saw his effort blocked and with time running out the home side came the closest they had in the entire game as Banton made a run to the by-line and his cross saw Holland able to turn before curling his effort just beyond the far post.
Team: Phillips, Wilson, Pearson, Gorton, Higgins, Young, Haslam (Coppin), Gee, Johnson, Pilkington (Hill) & Leadbetter (Rick).
SNU: Robinson & Yarwood.