Fine Opening to Campaign for Robins
Report by Steve Lee.
Ashton United kicked off their Evostik Premier Division campaign with victory over Matlock Town at Hurst Cross as two goals in the final ten minutes put the icing on the cake after Aaron Burns early strike from the spot.
The game was just four minutes old when Jonathon Bathurst received Ian Bennett's pass and after turning neatly in the Town area, James Lukic produced a clumsy challenge that the referee had no option to award a penalty and although Lee Kennedy guessed correctly, Burns well-struck shot got Ashton off to a dream start.
Town wasted little time in creating a chance themselves and only a fine save from Terry Smith prevented Lee Whittington from equalising with a well hit half volley, Smith at full stretch to tip the ball around the far post.
Ashton could have doubled their lead on twenty minutes as Liam Dawson produced a cross from the left that was headed across goal by Burns, Matty O'Neill beat a couple of challenges to create space for himself, but his left-foot shot went over the bar.
Dawson had a glancing header following a teasing cross from Kyle Harrop that went wide before Matlock's best chance of the game had Adam Yates try his luck from thirty yards, only to see his shot cannon to safety after striking the post.
Town ended the half on top and Chris Bettney wasted a free kick from a good position as he fired over.
Matlock had the better of possession early in the second half but couldn't find a way past the new look defence and whenever the Robins attacked, they carried the bigger threat, Burns attempted a typical first time shot from long range that went over the bar, and then Bathurst had a shot bravely blocked by a defender.
Substitute Danny Lambert made an instant contribution to the attack with a pass that Bennett raced onto, but he shot over after a neat turn.
Matlock twice tested Smith, the first following a fine cross-field pass by Gareth Davies that saw Whittington send in a shot that was held by the Ashton keeper and he did likewise from a header by the same player after Bettney had crossed from the wing.
O'Neill received a pass from Harrop that saw him lose his marker, but Kennedy made the save at the near post, whilst at the other end some sloppy defensive play was almost punished, but Whittington volleyed wide.
New signing Chris Amadi wasted no time in registering his first goal in Ashton colours, the agile striker had been on the pitch a mere two minutes when he raced on to a through ball by Bathurst, Kennedy initially repelled his right-foot shot, but the rebound fell to Amadi again and he lobbed the ball into the unguarded net to secure the points.
Matlock's defence was left exposed deep into injury time with Bennett racing onto an unselfish pass from Amadi, the long serving midfielder ran from the halfway line leaving defenders in his wake before sending an unstoppable shot past the keeper for Ashton's third to crown a fine opening day for the Robins.
Ashton: T Smith, Harrop, Caldecott, Murphy, Melling, Rimmer, O'Neill, Bennett, Burns (Amadi 78), Bathurst (Cahill 85), Dawson (Lambert 63). Subs not used B Smith, J Rose