Pics Take Honours in First Encounter with Robins
Report by David Hills-Taylor.
Ashton United suffered their first defeat of the season at Dales Lane as one goal proved enough for hosts Rushall Olympic.
This was the first time that the two sides had ever met in a competitive fixture, and in a very even game it was the home side who took the points courtesy of a single goal.
Ashton named an unchanged starting eleven from the team that took a point from Stocksbridge Park Steels in midweek, with Sam Madeley also being brought onto the bench after his impressive showing for the development squad on Thursday night.
A bobbly pitch meant that it was always going to be hard work for either side to implement a passing style of play, and the Robins' task was made even tougher when they conceded a sloppy goal early in the game.
A long clearance from Pics 'keeper Chris Gemmell caught the Ashton defence napping and Matt Lewis was able to play a slide rule pass to the unmarked Chris Morris, who tapped home from close range.
Ashton tried to fight back but found it hard work against a resolute Rushall defence. George Melling held the ball up well and played a good pass to Ian Bennett, but his long range strike was well blocked.
Frustrations boiled over as Aaron Burns became involved in an off the ball incident with Richard Blythe, and after a lengthly discussion with his assistant, referee Mr N Davies showed both players a yellow card.
The second half saw Danny Johnson immediately introduce Chris Amadi and Jonathon Bathurst, moving to a three pronged attack. This seemed to open the game up as both sides found extra space in the middle of the park, but chances were still left at a premium.
Ashton's best opening came courtesy of Bathurst, who latched onto a neat pass from Danny Caldecott to fire a powerful shot that Gemmell brilliantly tipped over the bar.
Aaron Burns also tried his luck from long range, but his shot floated harmlessly wide as the game drew to a close.
Ashton United: T. Smith, Harrop, Caldecott, Murphy (Madeley), Rimmer, Melling, O' Neill, Bennett, Burns, Lambert (Amadi), Cahill (Bathurst). SNU B. Smith, Frost