Robins Return With A Point
Battling Ashton hero's refuse to give up and earn a well deserved draw. Report by David Robinson
The two losing play-off semi-finalists from last season shared 6 goals at Croft Park as the tie finished in a draw for the third season running after a topsy-turvy affair. The hosts made the stronger start and could have moved ahead after just 6 minutes as Danny Maguire won a free kick 20 yards out and Stephen Turnbull’s effort clipped the outside of the post with Phillips well beaten.
With their first attack the Robins moved ahead as an incisive pass from Jack Dorney pick out Gary Gee’s run into the area and his effort had enough pace to beat Jeffries and cross the line. Six minutes later Spartans missed a glorious chance to level as a deep free kick from Pattison saw Ryan Hutchinson heading wide from just 6 yards out but just before the half hour a long cross from Cartwright found Maguire forcing home the equaliser at the far post with Phillips just unable to keep the ball out. Robbie Dale then put a 25 yard free kick off the top off the bar as the Ashton defence came under increasing pressure but with play switching to the other end the ball broke into the area for Danny Wilkins to tee up Dorney for a neat left foot finish.
Just 2 minutes later the hosts drew level again as they won a harsh looking penalty against Tunji Moses which Stephen Turnbull just squeezed home underneath Philips.
Immediately on the resumption the dangerous Dale almost set up strike partner Maguire with Stephen Mason to the rescue and Pattison’s cross from the right then beat everyone as the game calmed down somewhat from the frenetic first half pace. Chris Baguley then picked out Lee Gaskell down the left and his cross went unfinished, then with 20 minutes left Pattison’s inside pass found Sean Reid firing well wide but he was more successful with his next effort, finishing neatly off the post from Richardson’s pass.
With the Robins now up against it they played their last card in the shape of sub Jody Banim and it was his neat ball down the left wing which saw Caines underhit his backpass and the persistence of Lee Gaskell paid off as he charged down Jeffries’ clearance and followed up to knock the ball home. There could still have been time for the visitors to snatch a dramatic winner as Dorney had a great shout for a penalty waved away and he then put a fine cross just too far ahead of Gaskell.
Team: Phillips, Coo, Mason, Gorton, Connor, Moses (Lees), Dorney, Gee, Wilkins (Banim), Gaskell, Baguley (Crowther). SNU: Frost, Smith.