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First Team - Match centre

Darlington 1883
Ashton United
Tue 23 Feb 19:45 - The Evo-Stik League Northern Premier - Premier Division Full time Attendance 961

Quakers Silenced in Durham

Battling Robins Good For A Point. Report by David Robinson. Image Jez Sayle

Ashton rescued a priceless point from a tough assignment taking on high-flying Darlington at Bishop Auckland's Heritage Park ground. Following 2 recent postponements the Robins needed to make up lost ground in the league but the Quakers were on the attack as early as the first minute as Mitchell's pass sent Hardy into the area, his effort needing a sharp save from Phillips. On 9 minutes Ashton could have opened their account as Jay Gorton met Jeff King's long free kick with a diving header forcing Jameson to palm his effort away, the resulting corner seeing Gorton denied again at the far post.

Ten minutes later and Joe Connor caused alarm with a short back pass which Hardy latched on to, eventually being denied from a narrow angle before the same player had the ball taken off his toe by Mason at the last moment. Ashton’s shouts for handball in the home penalty area went unheeded before Gorton had a shot blocked and an attempted clearance by Burgess forced Jameson to tip over. Martin Pilkington then carved out the best chance of the half after a fine exchange with Adam Morning but unfortunately headed it straight at the home keeper and immediately Hardy was released into the area by Galbraith’s pass and beat Phillips to the ball only to see his effort clip the outside of the post.

The home side started the second period in determined fashion roared on by a crowd of 961 and Phillips needed to be alert to deny Thompson’s run into the area before the winger forced the Ashton keeper into a full length save as the tempo started to rise. Tempers were also getting heated as a clash between Mark Lees and home captain Burgess saw the latter lucky to avoid dismissal for retaliation, both players eventually being cautioned. With 20 minutes to go Phillips’ long free kick saw Gorton’s square header helped over the top by Connor, but then a mix up in the Robins’ defence allowed Portas to release fellow substitute Cartman who wasted the chance by cutting back inside from where the ball reached the far post where a heroic block from Mason preserved Ashton’s clean sheet.

With time running out a long free kick landed in Ashton’s area and was helped on by Cartman and after a bout of pinball it was eventually forced home by Tom Portas to the delight of the home crowd but right on the final whistle a loose ball in midfield was played forward by Chris Baguley to Eddie Toner who coolly took his time before slotting home the equaliser. There was still time for Cartman to be denied at close range by Phillips with Armstrong firing the rebound wide of goal.

Team: Phillips, Coo, Mason, Gorton, Connor, Lees, King (Baguley), Gee, Pilkington, Johnson (Toner), Morning (Chadwick). SNU: Haining, Wharton.

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League table

# Team Pl Pts
1. Darlington 1883 46 104
2. Blyth Spartans 46 99
3. Salford City 46 90
4. Ashton United 46 87
5. Workington 46 86
6. Stourbridge 46 84
7. Frickley Athletic 46 77

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