Atherton Collieries were disappointed to lose out 2-1 to Ashton United in a frustrating weeknight clash at the Skuna Stadium.
Strikes from Liam Tossett and Harry Coates either side of the half time whistle gave the Robbins the points, despite Declan Daniels scoring his first goal for the Colls. The second half saw the home side create a handful of chances, however poor finishing ultimately cost the black and whites dearly with the opposition netting two-well taken goals.
In blustery conditions under the floodlights, the game got off to a laboured start, Gaz Peet firing the first effort of the game into the side netting. The visitors’ rose into the ascendancy around the half hour mark, going close from a corner before Liam Tossett converted from close range to give Ashton the advantage on 32 minutes.
There was controversy moments later as goalscorer Tossett went to ground under challenge from the Colls defence, however the referee was unmoved despite furious Ashton protests. Colls rallied as the half went on, Declan Daniel’s denied by a superb tackle from Sam Baird and Ashton’s Ben Hardcastle going into the book for halting a promising Colls attack.
With seconds left before half time, the black and whites found their equaliser. A stinging shot from Ethan Kershaw squirmed away from ex-Collieries keeper Greg Hartley, and Declan Daniels was the quickest to react, pouncing on the loose ball and bundling it over the line for his first Colls goal.
The second half saw the home side emerge with fresh impetus and should have seen them take the lead in the moments that followed. An in-swinging corner fell to Daniels on the edge of the box, but his first-time volley flew well clear of the crossbar, before Zack Clarke spurned a glorious chance, inexplicably firing over from six yards out.
Missed opportunities often get punished and that’s exactly what happened on 54 minutes, an inviting free-kick was whipped in by Ben Harcastle turned home by Ashton defender Harry Coates, restoring the visitors’ lead. Whilst it could be argued the goal came against the run of play, Colls could have no complaints with missed chances the topic of the day once again.
With his side searching for the equaliser, Brad Cooke made several attacking tweaks, introducing Aaron Smith and new signing James Hooper into the fray. The former almost provided the goal with fifteen minutes left, poking agonisingly wide inside the box after some typically enterprising work from Gaz Peet down the left.
Despite Colls pushing hard, momentum seemed to slide back to the visitors as the game wore on, Ben Hardcastle almost adding a third but for a superb save from Danny Taberner. A late succession of corners saw the visitors wear the game out to its conclusion, the final whistle a frustrating one for Colls, who felt they deserved at least a draw from the clash.
Colls: Danny Taberner, Clive Smith, Gaz Peet, Joel Amado, Danny Lafferty, Niall Battersby (Matty Gillam 86’), Ethan Kershaw (James Hooper 78’), Danny Lambert, Declan Daniels, Zack Clarke, Scott Sephton (Aaron Smith 63’)
Unused Subs: Luca Defreitas-Hansen, Elliot Rokka
Report: Danny Brown
Photo: Dave Featherstone