Ashby Ivanhoe 1 Stapenhill 0
By Wes Yardley
Swans unbeaten run comes to a disappointing end
ROYCE Turville bagged a late winner as Stapenhill fell to an agonising defeat at league leaders Ashby Ivanhoe.
At a rainswept NFU Sports Ground, it was the visitors who created the first chance after two minutes.
A decent move saw Niall Dawkins lay the ball back to Joe Swift, whose inviting cross was headed inches wide by Callum McBride.
Unfortunately for the Swans, this was about as good as it got in the first half as they failed to trouble Ashby keeper Chris Hodge.
Luke Thorogood was the first to test Ben Gough in the away goal with a long-range effort and, just afterwards, Kerr Horn was well denied by the sprawling Swans' keeper.
Seven minutes in, James Purslow seized on a misplaced pass from Lucas Harrison and released Horn, only for the Ivanhoe man to fire just wide.
The pressure continued, with a succession of corners won by the hosts subsequently well defended by Stapenhill.
A crucial sliding tackle by Jamie Brown then denied the busy Turville.
At the other end, a long ball forward was flicked on by McBride to Tom Liversage – but the diminutive striker's shot was off target in a rare opening for the visitors.
Ashby soon regained control again, Thorogood surging forward from midfield and firing a shot that Gough, at full stretch, turned round the post.
Then it was Purslow's turn to burst into attack, but he blazed wide.
Horn cut into the box to send a fierce cross-shot inches wide as top-of-the-table Ashby looked to turn their pressure into something more meaningful.
The same striker should have opened the scoring at the end of the first half.
Thorogood pushed forward and, with everyone anticipating a shot, he put Horn clear in the area.
But instead of pulling the trigger, Horn inextricably dwelt on the ball for too long, and a gilt-edged chance was lost.
The hosts' pressure did continue after the break though, Thorogood picking up possession on the edge of the box and curling a fine effort against the outside of the post.
Then Sam Johnson and Horn combined to set up Thorogood, who dragged his attempt wide.
Next, Gough made a superb save, diving to his right to tip a goalbound effort round the upright.
On the hour, a wicked low cross from Saunders skidded unchecked across the six-yard box.
But the Swans kept going, with Alex Britton making room for himself before blazing off target.
They then forced three corners in succession, all well defended by centre-backs Johnson and Tom Rowell, aided by the reliable Hodge.
The keeper was in action again moments later, denying Liversage after he went clear.
And as time ticked down towards a goalless draw, Ashby struck the winning goal.
A superb through-ball from Purslow split the Stapenhill defence, and former Gresley striker Turville took a composed touch before drilling a precision effort just inside Gough's right-hand post.
Unbelievably though, the Swans had a chance to snatch a last-gasp equaliser deep into stoppage time.
Liversage chased after a long ball forward and went one-on-one with Hodge – but the striker's first touch let him down at the key moment, and the keeper could barely believe his luck as he collected the loose ball.
Despite a fighting performance from the visitors, there can be no doubt that the best side eventually edged clear for the win.
GOALS: Turville 87 (Ashby).
ASHBY IVANHOE: Hodge, Ryder, Abdillahi (Stevenson 76), Purslow, Rowell, Johnson, Saunders, Thorogood, Horn (Williams 60), Turville, Cawley. Sub not used: Nettel.
STAPENHILL: Gough, Austin, Swift, Harrison, Furniss (Bullock 85), Brown, Ellerton (Weightman 63), Britton, McBride, Liversage, Dawkins. Sub not used: Rowland.
BOOKINGS: Saunders, Williams (Ashby), Harrison (Swans).
SWANS' STAR MAN: Jamie Brown – Rock solid at the back.
REFEREE: K. Guise (Nottingham).