Manager of the Month Curse Continues to Bite
Report by Steve Lee.
After being awarded the Febraury Manager of the Month award, Danny Johnson has seen his side pick up just one point out of a possible twelve as struggling Stocksbridge Park Steels in monsoon conditions at Hurst Cross.
Some abject finishing as well as an inspired goalkeeping performance by Ben Scott were the ingredients in this, the Robins third straight defeat against a team below them in the table.
Ashton began well and in an almightly scramble saw Aaron Burns denied by Scott, the rebound kindly falling to Ian Bennett, but his shot hit the bar and went over.
Mark Peers, back after missing the last three games led the visitors defence a merry dance before the rain came, a typical surging run saw him pick out the supporting Ged Murphy, but Scott made a comfortable catch.
Steels were offering little as an offensive threat, a hopeful long range effort by Mark Whitehouse being comfortably saved by Terry Smith.
Ashton created further chances, Matty Kosylo cut in from the right flank where Warren Beattie shot over the bar and then a skilful run from Burns saw his effort go over the bar.
Alex Frost then made a timely run to get through on goal, but his touch let him down at the vital moment and Scott smothered the ball.
With the right back out of position, Steels took advantage and when a misdirected pass was intercepted, Jack Muldoon wasted no time in going through and firing past Smith.
The pitch was a quagmire after a fifteen minute downpour and the second half began very scappily. Stocksbridge took advantage of some slack marking to double their advantage as Richard Haigh rose unmarked to head home following a free kick that was pumped into the area.
Burns came close to an instant response when he got on the end of a Peers centre, but Scott got a hand to the ball and deflected it away from goal.
Substitute Chris Amadi won a vital challenge on the edge of the area before his offload found Bennett, but once again Scott produced a fine save to keep the Robins out.
It was an unlucky thirteen minutes from time for Steels scorer Haigh as a superbly flighted cross by Danny Caldecott was headed past his own keeper by the Steels defender.
Amadi had a couple of great chances to salvage something from the game, first, after great work from Kosylo who beat two men before his cross cut out Scott, but with the goal at his mercy headed over the bar.
The enigmatic striker contrived to miss and even easier chance late in the game when another run from Kosylo saw his cross cut back to the far post, but with just Scott to beat, blazed over the bar.
In between, Burns beat Scott in a race to the ball, but his shot lacked power and Anthony Tansley made a timely intervention for the South Yorkshire side, who cluing on for three points to boost their survival hopes.
ASHTON: T Smith, Frost, Caldecott, Murphy (Amadi 60), Roberts, Robinson, Kosylo, Beattie, Burns, Bennett, Peers. Subs not used Rose, Lambert, B Smith, Sanasy