Report by Rod Hadley:
After failing behind to a second half penalty the Pitmen failed to extend their run of consecutive victories to ten last night away at Ashton United. Manager Dean Edwards made one change from the side which won 5-0 at home on Saturday. Sean Platt came in for Sam Hall who dropped down onto the bench as he was still feeling the effects of Saturdays tackle which lead to him being substituted.
The Pitmen’s flowing passing football deserted them as they relied on to many long balls up for the front two who despite having already scored 29 goals between them looked on the night like strangers.
The opening minutes of the game saw the Pitmen well on top but without creating any scoring chances. Ross Dyer hit a good cross from the right into the box which Ashton keeper Terry Smith cut out inside the six yard box.
Elliott Durrell was fouled on the half way line when Nick Prescott pulled his shirt. Decio Gomes hit the free kick to Dyer who headed the ball high into the air which made for an easy save for Smith.
Ashton’s first effort came in the 10th minute when Robbie Talbot hit a 25 yard effort wide of the right hand post after a good cross from the left by Iain Howard had made the opening. Howard tried a curling shot two minutes later from the left wing which Brock watched all the way as he saved at the far post.
In the 23rd minute a Sean Platt free kick found Tyrone Barnett at the far side of the box but he lifted his shot well over the crossbar. A corner was needlessly given to the Pitmen when an Ashton defender scuffed a clearance straight out of play. Mark Briggs corner was hit firmly into the box where Smith managed to get a good punch on the ball sending it out of play for a throw in.
Elliott Durrell nearly caught he Ashton keeper out when in the 27th minute he turned 22yards out to hit a fierce shot which was dipping into the net but Smith made a brilliant one handed diving save to tip the ball onto the top of the net.
Ashton’s Ian Bennett was cautioned in the 35th minute for fouling Elliott Durrell. The Ashton player was unlucky as it was more to do with Elliott’s quick turn that caused the tackle more than any malice from the Ashton defender.
Ian Kearney headed Bennett’s 37th minute free kick onto the top of the Pitmen’s crossbar then five minutes later Tom Marshall hit a 40 yard shot on target but his effort went straight into the arms of Terry Smith. Then Ross Draper tried a volley after a long forward ball was headed back to him but his quick shot went high over the crossbar.
Draper who had a quite first half was soon in action in the second half, after a run by Tyrone Barnett had created an opening draper forced Smith to push his shot from the edge of the box away then he soon after making a well timed tackle in the Pitmen’s penalty area to deny Howard a scoring opportunity.
In the 55th minute Marshall made a good run down the left wing and hit a great cross into the six yard box where Dyer was just too late to tap the ball into the net as it crossed the six yard box and out to Platt on the right wing.
On the hour mark Ashton put Gareth Richards on for Talbot and he nearly scored with his first touch but was denied by a save from Stuart Brock. The only goal of the game came shortly after when Decio Gomes was adjudged to have fouled Iain Howard as he raced into the penalty area. The decision looked to be harsh but the Ashton players dive may have helped the Referee to make his mind up.
Howard stepped up to place the spot kick into the left hand side of the net, sending Brock the wrong way in the process. In an effort to put fresh legs onto the pitch Durrell and Harvey were replaced by Adam Burley and David Brown.
The home team should have sown up all the points in the 81st minute when Richards put Howard through to a one on one with Brock but somehow from a good position inside the box he pulled his shot wide of the goal.
The Pitmen who were pushing for an equaliser wasted too many balls attempting to thread passes through the rigid Ashton backline. Maguire managed to get a ball through to Draper standing in the ‘D’ but he hit his shot a yard over the crossbar.
Richards the Ashton sub was denied a shot on goal by a well timed tackle from Sean Platt then Ben Smith hit a 25 yard shot just wide of the left hand post.
In the final minute of the fourth added minute of play Maguire skied a 20 yard effort over the goal and in the last move Sam Hall who had earlier replaced Mark Briggs hit a corner kick straight into the keepers arms which about summed up the Pitmen’s night.