Tuesday 17th April 2018, North West Counties League Premier Division
ASHTON ATHLETIC 5
CHARNOCK RICHARD 0
Team: Adam Halton, Spencer Bibby, Ben Lightfoot, Ashley Young, Ryan Schofield (Alex Dodd 77), David Prout (Tyler Rufus 59), Mark Woods (Jordyn Fitton 77), Nathan Fairhurst, Carl Grimshaw, Joe Noblet, Alex Ralph.
The 5-0 defeat indicates that this was a game where Ashton Athletic were totally superior but in actual fact the two teams were evenly matched; the first half saw neither side able to dominate and chances were very scarce so the game was goalless at the interval. Shortly after the start of the second half the Charnock defence had a mad seven minutes during which Ashton scored four goals and effectively won the game.
There were three changes to the starting line-up following the home defeat to Runcorn Linnets on the previous Saturday, in came Adam Halton, Ben Lightfoot and David Prout. Harvey Close and Jordyn Fitton dropped to the bench alongside Alex Dodd and Tyler Rufus and James Walker, the latter two returning from injury. The team lined up with Lightfoot, Schofield and Young as a back three with Bibby and Ralph as wing backs.
Charnock won the toss and Ashton kicked off playing towards the north end of the ground. When the teams met in January at Mossie Park the teams had been evenly matched and a single goal had decided the game in Charnock’s favour and once again there was little to choose between the sides. There was some skilful football on show at times played at a decent tempo but with both defences largely dominating neither side created a real chance in the first half. An early free kick for Charnock saw a looping header from Grimshaw test Martin Pearson in the home goal and then a cross from Noblet saw a clearance rebound back off Fairhurst into the hands of Pearson. Ashton responded with Brownhill shooting from distance, well off target, before possibly Charnock’s best chance of the half on 20 minutes saw Noblet shoot after Woods had done well on the left, the ball was heading for the top corner but Pearson did well to get a hand to the ball. Mark Woods had a decent shot from distance over the bar before on 28 minutes Ashton had the ball in the net but their celebrations were stopped when they realise that the assistant had his flag up for offside. Charnock re-organised at the back going to a flat back four with Bibby going to left back and Lightfoot to right back. As the interval approached Bram Johnstone had a shot over the bar before Chris Webster repeated the feat. A 44th minute corner for Ashton saw a shot narrowly past the post.
Kicking downhill in the second half it was anticipated that the Villagers might take charge but it soon became evident that Ashton were going to get the upper hand. On 48 minutes Charnock’s defence struggled to clear the ball and although Halton came out to challenge Chris Webster hit a shot that found the net off the far post. Not surprisingly taking the lead gave Ashton a boost and with Charnock on the defensive a ball came out to Charlie Munro beyond the left corner of the penalty box and he hit a sweet shot into the far side of the goal. Two minutes later Charnock’s defence caught out again and Danny Regan was able to run unopposed in from the right to shoot beyond Halton into the net. On 55 minutes Schofield hit a clearance against an opponent and Brownhill had an easy chance to beat Halton. In seven mad minutes Charnock had conceded four goals! After such a disastrous few minutes it may be thought that Charnock lost heart but to be fair to the lads they continued to compete and the remainder of the game was relatively even. Tyler Rufus came on for Prout and Woods had a powerful shot from distance that took and slight deflection that took it narrowly past a post. A Woods right wing corner saw Young head narrowly wide at the back post. An Ashton break on 65 minutes saw the visiting defence again struggle and Regan hit a shot past the advancing Halton to make the score 5-0. A home central defender produced a back header that Pearson did well to push over the bar and on 77 minutes Alex Dodd and Jordyn Fitton replaced Mark Woods and Ryan Schofield. A centre from Woods was then marginally too high for Grimshaw and Tyler Rufus hit a powerful shot straight at Pearson. A off-the-ball confrontation with Ashley Young resulted in a straight red card for substitute Dale Korie-Butler.
It had been a disappointing evening for Charnock Richard and their followers to say the least and their defensive errors had been ruthlessly punished. Now playing three fixtures a week there are bound to be a number of mistakes as players become increasingly fatigued but hopefully the imminent returned of James Walker and Ross O’Farrell will bolster the defence.
Charnock are at home to Congleton on Thursday 19th April, kick off 7.45pm, and follow with a home fixture against Runcorn Town on Saturday 21st April, kick off 3.00pm