Best Performance So Far!
Report by David Robinson.
Ashton produced their best result under the new management of Will Haining and Jody Banim as they came from behind to beat the team that had knocked them out of the FA Cup two years earlier.
After Anderson had driven Armstrong’s knock down wide for Moors, Glen Taylor was unable to get over his header from Anderson’s free kick but just past the quarter hour the Robins gifted the hosts their best chance as Haining dwelt on the ball allowing Chandler to play Armstrong into the box where he squeezed his shot past Branagan but Stephen Mason was able to get back and clear off the line. Richard Smith then saw Lee Knight’s return ball into the area cut out with Dorney’s resulting corner being headed off the top off the crossbar by Mason.
Just past the half hour a deflected left wing cross saw Armstrong’s header bring a fine palm away out of Branagan and Moors came even closer on the stroke of the interval as Armstrong’s lay off was hammered against the bar by Anderson.
Ten minutes into the second period and Taylor’s forward pass into the Ashton area saw a penalty mysteriously awarded by Mr Matthews, apparently against Haining although Mason appeared to be booked, but Joseph Tait put his spot kick comfortably wide of the target. 3 minutes later and the centre back made amends as he converted from close range after Branagan had saved Armstrong’s initial effort.
The temperature then started to rise as Jamie Chandler was dismissed following a clash with Richard Smith and within 5 minutes the Robins saw several efforts blocked in the area until the ball broke to Ryan Crowther who curled home a superb effort with his first touch since coming on as a substitute. Crowther could have made another significant contribution as a quick break picked him out and his cross just evaded Knight whose return ball saw Crowther’s shot blocked amidst claims for a penalty.
With 15 minutes left a fine move saw Jack Dorney pick out Smith whose chip into the area found the unmarked Le Gaskell heading home past Rafferty and as the hosts tried to hit back Taylor saw a shot on the turn saved before Anderson’s pass split the Robins’ defence and Taylor was well denied by the advancing Branagan. The hosts thought they had levelled when Taylor cut inside and saw his shot saved by Branagan with Gott turning home the rebound but halted by an offside flag and the Ashton keeper had one move fine save in his locker as he denied Tait an equaliser from close range.
Team: Branagan, Smalley, Maiese, Frost, Mason, Haining (Crowther), Lees, Smith, Gaskell, Knight, Dorney (Banim).
SNU: Steenson, Murray, Buckley.