The Robins remain unbeaten but were off form against a Nantwich side that felt like home away from home.
Ashton visited the Weaver Stadium full of confidence after a good bank holiday weekend, but met a Dabbers side that had to prove something after a difficult start to the season.
The match was extra special for both sides, as Nantwich employed Danny Johnson in the summer, after spending 6 years at Hurst Cross. With his departure, players followed him, and this showed in the lineup on the day, as it housed seven ex-Robins, six of which started.
Both sides contested well at the start and shared possession and chances in blustering wind. However, on the 13th minute, former Ashton left-back, Danny Caldecott slid in with two high feet, missing the ball and directly connected with winger, Chris Denham.
Referee, Ollie Yates wasted no time in showing DC the red card and the Dabbers had a huge task on their hand for the remainder of the game with 10-men.
As Ashton tried to break the deadlock with a host of missed chances, Gary Gee was lucky to not see the same, after an earlier yellow, with Thomas Moore making the most of a light tackle, Gee's high foot could of been punished, but the ref didn't give the Dabbers fans what they wanted. After that, both teams went in at half-time all square at 0-0. Nantwich would of felt the better after their brave first-half performance, with Ashton becoming increasingly frustrated.
As the second-half got underway, the Robins subbed Gee for Burke, to ensure eleven stayed on the pitch and kept the ball well and passed it around, probably a bit to easily, as they started to misplace passes, which the Dabbers capitalised on.
Against the run of play, Nantwich attacked down the left-hand wing, after a mazy run by ex-Ashton & FC winger, Stephen Johnson. From the resulting corner and a goalmouth scramble, Ashton cleared their lines twice before former hotshot, Aaron Burns tapped the ball in to give the home side the lead. This was what they deserved as Ashton failed to make the extra man count.
The shock to the system spurred Ashton into life and on the 61st minute, Lee Rick's well placed shot, stayed low and nestled into the bottom left-hand corner, leaving former goalkeeper, Terry Smith stranded.
As the game continued, the introduction of Andy White for Aaron Burns paid off for the home side as he scored within a minute, after a fantastic run and well-hit shot that flew in. They had the lead again and Ashton couldn't believe that they were playing against a side with a man down.
After some unnecessary time-wasting by the Dabbers, more substitutions followed by Steve Halford to try and change the game, and it did. With super-sub, Martin Pilkington placing a fine ball into the box for Kayde Coppin to slot home on the 75-minute to make it level again. His first goal for the club was a welcomed one, to get him off the mark, but also to repay him for his hard-work in the game.
With the fantastic second-half coming to an end, Nantwich had one more chance to seal a surprising victory, when a well-struck shot was tipped onto the bar by Paul Phillips. The Robins held off the pressure and tried to find a winner but nothing came after some instinctive saves by Terry Smith.
The action-packed game finished 2-2, with Nantwich proving to be the better side, with Ashton off form, who have to pick themselves up and make sure they make the extra man count next time.
With tough games at home against Matlock on Wednesday night and Trafford on Saturday, the Robins will be hoping they can remain unbeaten and keep their challenge at the top.
After the game, it was time for the Ashton players, directors and supporters to mingle with the former players and manager from last season. It was a nice ending to the day, but when the Dabbers visit Hurst Cross later on in the season, both teams will be fighting for the bragging rights.
NTFC Line-up: Smith (GK), Frost (C), Caldecott (Red-13'), Young, Davis, Courtney (White, 66'), Carden, Jones, Burns (G-50') (Clayton, 82') (MoM), Moore & Johnson (Harrop, 77').
SNU: Wilson & Amadi.
AUFC Line-up: Phillips (GK), Richardson (MoM), Pearson (Tandy, 60'), Hardiker, Lynch (C), Gee (Burke, 45'), Denham, Rick (G-61'), Coppin (G-75'), J.O'Neill & Logan (Pilkington, 55').
SNU: M.O'Neill & Gorton.