Ashton finally won promotion to the Premier Division via the inaugural NPL play-offs in 2002 (pictured below) and also retained the Manchester Premier Cup they had won the previous season - they were to win it again in 2003 and were beaten finalists in 2004, the same year the club became founder members of the new Conference North. Their stay in the new league was ended after just one season - only the club's third relegation in over one hundred years of football.
Danny Johnson was appointed as manager towards the end of the 2006-07 season as the club just avoided relegation (pictured below - team celebrate scoring one of the goals that secured their status).
The following three campaigns saw the club obtain successive mid-table finishes, however 2009/10 was a turbulent year at Hurst Cross; the club were sued by former Altrincham player Marcus Hallows following an on-the-pitch injury sustained playing against Ashton in 2005. The courts subsequently found against the club, who were deemed liable to pay damages to Mr Hallows. In 2011 the club tasted some long overdue cup success, appearing in the Manchester Premier Cup Final (only to lose in extra time) then securing their first ever NPL League Challenge Cup victory, beating Northwich Victoria 1-0 at Wincham Park (pictured below). 2012 saw another mid-table finish, although the club did win one award – the Fair Play award for least disciplinary points in their division.
Johnson moved to league rivals Nantwich Town at the end of the 2012-13 campaign and his assistant-manager, Craig Robinson, was elevated to the role of manager but resigned for personal reasons before the season commenced; as a result, coach Paul Phillips was promoted as manager, bringing in former Droylsden team-mate (and then Mossley gaffer) Steve Halford as co-manager. Few could have foretold that, after such an unusual pre-season, the club would go so close to promotion; after seeing off FC United of Manchester in the most dramatic manner in the play-off semi-final (Ashton equalised in injury time at the end of the 90 minutes and, in injury time of added time, Jack Higgins struck a deserved winner) before losing the play-off final in even more dramatic circumstances, when only the width of a crossbar promoted AFC Fylde after a penalty shoot-out.