Ashby 2nds 2
Derwent 2nds 5
Derwent 2nds aptly chose Bonfire Night to re-ignite their season as they returned to form with a bang.
An away trip to table topping Ashby appeared to be a daunting task given recent form, but with change of formation and the recently signed Matt Higginson installed in the midfield, Derwent started the match off like a rocket.
Immediately from the push back, Derwent worked the ball up the left flank, before switching it back across the centre and onto the right where a marauding Max Morris broke through the Ashby defence and fired a pinpoint cross into Marcus Frasier, who slotted the ball home from close range. With less than 30 seconds gone, and without Ashby even touching the ball, Derwent were 1-0 up.
Buoyed by their perfect start, Derwent continued to move the ball fluidly around the pitch, denying Ashby any meaningful possession, while probing for any defensive weakness that could be exploited.
It was clearly only a matter of time before the Ashby defence was breached once more, and within ten minutes Derwent got their reward.
This time an attack down the left wing between Alex Nigbur and Ben Morton threw the Ashby defence into disarray allowing Andy McKeown to prod the loose ball goalwards, only to see it stopped on the line by an Ashby defender’s foot.
The umpire had no hesitation in awarding Derwent a penalty flick, which vice-captain Steve King coolly placed into the bottom right corner of the goal.
The pattern of play continued for much of the first half, with Ashby unable to find any answers to the pace and movement of Derwent’s five-man midfield, who in turn were carving through the Ashby defence almost at will. With around 30 minutes on the clock Derwent’s pressure told again, as a slick passing move through the midfield released Andy McKeown, who wasted no time in scoring his sixth goal of the season.
3-0 up and looking in total control as the first half drew to a close, Derwent were on the wrong end of an odd umpiring decision. Following a rare attack, the Ashby centre forward managed to get a shot away which was both mis-hit and about two yards wide of the Derwent goal. However the mis-hit had caused the ball to bobble and just before it left the field of play it leapt up and struck a crouching Steve King on the chest.
With both sets of players assuming Derwent had conceded an unfortunate short corner, Ashby were awarded a penalty flick. With even the Ashby team, whose sense of fair play could not be called into question, advising that the shot was going wide, Derwent were confident the decision would be overturned. However, following a discussion, the penalty flick stood. Despite goalkeeper Ed Berry’s best efforts, Ashby were able to reduce the deficit.
Following their fortunate lifeline, Ashby started the second half with renewed confidence and vigour and began to show just why they were top of the league. In an almost complete reversal of the first half, Ashby were now dominating possession and pressurising Derwent high up the pitch. Derwent’s midfield were now having to concentrate solely on their defensive duties in order to offer the backs some protection and respite.
Ashby were able to keep up the onslaught for a full 20 minutes. However a succession of majestic saves from Derwent goalkeeper Ed Berry, and an imperious man of the match performance from centre back Chris Rodgers preserved Derwent’s lead.
As attack after attack floundered against Derwent’s backline the Ashby players began to tire, and Derwent wrested control of the match back. A swift counterattack led by Matt Higginson resulted in a Derwent short corner which Gary Shardlow received at the top of the ‘D’ before driving his shot into the bottom corner of the Ashby goal, making the score 4 -1.
Still Ashby refused to throw in the towel and while they were no longer able to apply the same kind of pressure they had enjoyed at the beginning of the half, they were still very much in the game. With just over ten minutes of the match remaining, Ashby got their breakthrough. Some smart passing and interchanges on the edge of the Derwent ‘D’ put the Ashby centre forward into a shooting position, and he was able to claim his second goal of the game.
Determined to finish on a high, Derwent pressed on once again, and some excellent full back play from Tom Higton created space behind the Ashby defence for George Rush.
As the cross came into the Ashby D, Marcus Frasier timed his run from midfield to perfection. Controlling the ball with his first touch, he then calmly flicked it over the oncoming Ashby keeper for his second and Derwent’s fifth goal of the afternoon.
It could have got even better for Derwent in the final minutes of the match as Marcus Frasier picked up the ball on the halfway line, shrugged off his marker and began a run which saw him dribble around three Ashby players before surging into their ‘D’ and sending the goalkeeper the wrong way, only to see his shot sail past the wrong side of the post.