Report: Ashton United 2-0 Matlock Town

Julian Banton put through his own net just before half-time.
Julian Banton put through his own net just before half-time.
  • Own goal before half-time puts Ashton ahead
  • Boss Hume brings himself on as emergency striker late on
  • Second goal kills Matlock off on 89 minutes

Good fortune seems to be deserting the Gladiators at a crucial stage in their battle to beat the drop.

They certainly gave as good as they received at third-placed Ashton, but some off-target finishing, coupled with the bad luck, proved to be their undoing.

A 41st minute Julian Banton own goal was added to by a scruffy 89th minute strike from substitute Martin Pilkington to give the Robins a highly flattering win.

As expected, the hosts, needing the points to maintain a play-off challenge and have an outside chance of catching leaders FC United of Manchester, made a strong start.

Michael Oates eased past Banton to lob over the bar and then from a well struck Chris Baguley free-kick, Jon Kennedy flew to his left to tip the ball away from danger, Kennedy then handling assuredly from another free-kick played in dangerously by Baguley.

But there were signs of Matlock weathering the early storm and on the half-hour they had the best chance of the half when Otis Khan sprinted from the half way line only to curl his shot narrowly wide with only goalkeeper Paul Phillips to beat.

Kennedy finger-tipped a chip from Martin Hill away to safety and punched away another Baguley free-kick before the breakthrough came in an unexpected way as Banton sliced a right wing corner into his own net.

Matlock’s response was instant with Khan firing narrowly wide from distance before half time arrived with a 1-0 deficit to make up.

An injury to Danny Holland saw Niall McManus on for the second-half and the substitute was soon in the thick of the action, narrowly failing to meet a good low ball across the box by Jamie McDonagh.

The Northern Irishman was at the centre of Matlock’s dominance of the second-half, next turning smartly to see Phillips again save a shot from distance.

Matlock needed to make their pressure count, McManus snatching at a chance created for him by Ted Cribley before on 74 minutes came probable confirmation that it was not going to be Matlock’s day.

McDonagh’s shot struck the near post, bounced along the goal line to rebound off the other upright and out of the reach of McManus who would have had an easy tap in.

Phillips then held another strike from McDonagh before Town manager Mark Hume made a double switch, sending himself on as an auxiliary striker with Micky Harcourt coming on for Scott Maxfield at the back.

The Ashton defence stuck to their task with a rugged determination to hold on to their lead and they received the bonus of a scrappy second goal as they broke forward for Brad Robindson to find Dale Johnson, the ball dropping to Pilkington who squeezed his shot past Kennedy who looked to have been impeded, and the points were sealed.

Saturday, March 21, 2015:

Ashton: 1 Paul Phillips 2 Stephen Mason 3 Greg Pearson 4 Sam Wilson 5 Jack Higgins 6 Ashley Young 7 Martin Hill (Brad Robinson 66) 8 Gary Gee 9 Dale Johnson 10 Chris Baguley (Lee Rick 87) 11 Michael Oates (Martin Pilkington 66). Subs not used: Darcy O’Connor, Jack Sherratt

Matlock: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Grant Black 3 Scott Maxfield (Micky Harcourt 80) 4 Josh Meade (Mark Hume 80) 5 Muhammed Sabo 6 Julian Banton 7 Ted Cribley 8 Liam Needham 9 Jamie McDonagh 10 Danny Holland (Niall McManus 46) 11 Otis Khan. Sub not used: Liam Gaughan, Ryan Pugh

Att: 194 Ref: D Strain (Runcorn)

Star Gladiator: Jamie McDonagh