Dale Dampens Dabbers
Dale Johnson's first goal for the club proved to be the decisive factor in a tense and heated fixture.
It was the turn for the Dabbers to visit the Robins at Hurst Cross, that saw a host of familiar faces turn up to watch and compete against Ashton.
Dale Johnson's 30th-minute curled shot, which landed in the bottom right-hand corner, gave the bragging rights to the Ashton United faithful on a very heated but cold evening.
After being rearranged from a mid-November Saturday, due to Nantwich Town's FA Trophy fixture, both teams wanted to win this game to push on in the league but also because of the recent history between both clubs.
Nantwich started the stronger side and peddled Ashton onto the back-foot after Steve Foster had a half-chance and Aaron Burns had a shot that went high and wide, both after being in good attacking positions.
As United reacted to their lacklustre start, Kayde Coppin came into life on the right-wing and the live-wire's in-swinging corner was poor but Andy White lashed out at it and missed it completely at the near post. Debutant keeper, David Stevenson, collected the awkward bouncing ball with Ashton players ready to pounce on any mistake.
The first-half continued and both sides started to cancel each other out before Johnson intercepted a poor clearance from former Robin and Nantwich captain, Alex Frost. The opposition failed to react quickly enough and Johnson turned inside on the edge of the box to curl the ball past the keeper and as it nestled perfectly into the corner, Ashton broke the deadlock.
In the second-half, Coppin, Martin Pilkington and Matthew Chadwick all had chances to extend the lead and the Robins downfall this year is their failure to get the second goal and instead lose the lead. Although, Nantwich started to become more threatening, Ashton stayed composed and stuck to their task.
A mazy run by everyone's favourite striker, Ben Deegan, saw the tall forward beat four players before lashing a shot towards Paul Phillips who comfortably dealt with it in goal. Devenney hit the post late on and Foster lifted a lob wide of the goal.
Killer (M. Pilkington) then lofted a shot over the crossbar after a counter-attack and then another one late on saw Gary Gee's shot saved before switching it to Lee Rick who laid off Ashley Young, who then sent the ball into the skies, as the Dabbers scrambled back after committing too many players forward.
Nantwich had the final chances in the dying minutes and a free-kick on the edge of the box was dealt with again by Phillips as Ashton held on and left Danny Johnson's side deflated after a recent run of good form.
The Dabbers failed to make their pressure count towards the end, as Ashton hung on for a vital win that sees them climb up a few places, after a run of three successive wins in the league, keeping two clean sheets and conceding only one goal from the penalty spot, with games in-hand on many teams above and below.
Things are starting to look up again after a couple of tough months and inconsistent results.
The next game is not this Saturday but the following one (21st Dec) away to Witton Albion, before a home game on Boxing Day against FC United of Manchester.
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ASHTON UNITED Red & White Halves, Red & Red
P. Phillips, C. Coo, G. Pearson, J. Gorton (Capt.), J. Higgins, A. Young, K. Coppin, G. Gee, D. Johnson (S. Halford - 90'), M. Pilkington (L. Rick - 59') & M. Chadwick (J. O'Neill - 64').
SUB NOT USED
D. Johnson - 30'
S. Halford - 90'
MAN OF THE MATCH Chosen by Match Sponsors
NANTWICH TOWN Yellow, Blue & Blue
D. Stevenson, S. Wilson (R. Courtney - 40'), A. White, M. Jones, A. Frost (Capt.), A. Jones, B. Deegan (E. Davis - 80'), R. Davidson, A. Burns (H. Clayton - 69'), S. Foster & O. Devenney.
SUBS NOT USED
D. Gardner & O. Abadaki.
GOALS & BOOKINGS
MAN OF THE MATCH Chosen by Nantwich Town Directors
Referee - Mr. Peter Gooch
Assistant 1 - Mr. Anthony Ball
Assistant 2 - Mr. James Morgan