Another Useful Point on the Road
Report by David Robinson.
Ashton came away with a vital point from their encounter with fellow strugglers Mickleover after a competitive affair. With the visitors looking to repeat last season's victory they gave a debut to Christopher Cheetham in goal, deputising for the suspended Terry Smith and did likewise with Warren Beattie in midfield.
They got off to the best possible start with 10 minutes on the clock as Marlin Piana cut inside from the left and was clearly tripped just inside the area for a penalty which was well despatched by strike partner Burns. Ged Murphy then had an effort from 20 yards well held by the Sports keeper, and Ashton thought they had doubled their advantage as Clarke failed to hold Melling's header and the rebound was knocked home from close-range by Alex Frost only for the assistant to flag Melling offside.
At the other end O'Connell cut inside and saw his shot blocked but collected the rebound and was then clipped in the area by Murphy to concede a penalty - the offender being booked for protesting- Steadman confidently equalised sending Cheetham the wrong way from the spot. On the stroke of half-time a goalmouth scramble saw Walshe volley over for the home side and then Melling touched the ball against the Sports post following a similar scramble in the home penalty area only to see the offside flag raised again.
At the start of the second period, Burns received a crossfield pass and cut back onto his left foot before firing over and was then found by a through ball from Craig Robinson but fired into the side netting.A good build up by Mickleover saw the ball switched wide to Grocott but his effort was held by Cheetham and then another fluent move saw Smythe play Steadman into the clear in the area but from 6 yds out he lifted his effort over the bar when scoring looked easier.
The home side were certainly looking more likely to break the deadlock at this stage and began to dominate possession and 2 substitutions by the visitors did little to change the flow of play. O'Connell then made good progress down the right wing and pulled the ball back for Smythe to fire over the top. The game remained even to the end which was probably a fair result and could well prove to be a useful point for the visitors.
Team; Cheetham, Frost, Roberts (Amadi), Murphy (Harrop), Melling (Peers), Robinson, O'Neill, Beattie, Burns, Piana, Caldecott. SNU Bennett, Madeley