Ashton United 2 FC United 1
ASHTON survived a late onslaught to secure three points at Hurst Cross.
Overnight frost put the match in some doubt, but by kick-off time, the pitch was fine and both sides passed the ball around well.
The home side began well as Ian Bennett started and finished a move that spanned the length of the field, but his final shot flew just over the crossbar.
Chris Baguley replied with a shot off target from Jerome Wright’s lay-off before glancing a header just wide of the upright.
Wright brought a fine save from Terry Smith, who pushed the ball onto the post before Adam Carden’s low shot deflected off a defender’s heels for a corner.
It was Ashton who took the lead with a well-worked goal as Ben Smith won the ball before producing a perfect cross for Ben Deegan to head past Sam Ashton.
Soon after this, Carlos Roca was introduced as a substitute for The Rebels, a move that gave their attack greater impetus.
However, the Ashton defence and keeper coped well with everything that was thrown at them for the remainder of the half.
The visitors made a good start to the second half, playing some dangerous balls into the Ashton penalty area, but Terry Smith was in commanding form and claimed most of the high balls.
When the home side attacked, the two wide players, Matty O’Neill and Iain Howard, both caused problems, the latter firing a low shot that Ashton did well to hold.
Bennett almost increased the lead with a low shot that was deflected for a corner, while at the other end, Roca’s cross fell to Wright whose shot came back off the upright before being claimed by Terry Smith.
Ashton doubled their lead when Howard’s through ball to Callum Flanagan saw the striker initially denied by Ashton, only for the ball to squirm from his grasp and Flanagan to convert from close range.
Then, in the second minute of stoppage time, Tommy Turner turned in a Wilson shot from close range, to give the away side hope.
There was a long delay as Ashton defender Alex Frost received treatment for a head injury sustained in the lead up to the goal before being stretchered off unconscious.
When play resumed, the home side regrouped and played out the remaining time to secure a vital three points.