Ashton Athletic 2-2 St Helens Town

First published in Sport

Town left Brocstedes Park with a valuable point against Ashton Athletic, but should have had all three, despite playing for the last half-hour with only ten men, following the dismissal of midfielder Craig Fitzjohn for a second yellow card.

The home side took an early lead when Mark Bailey netted with an uncotested header from a corner on 8 minutes. Town responded well, with Carl Osman, returning from injury, back to his best.

His run on to a Ste Edwards pass almost brought an equaliser, but home ‘keeper Buckley-Smith turned the shot round the post. Town could have had two penalties in the first 16 minutes, when attacking players were clearly brought down in the penalty area, with first Lee Harrison and then Scott McNair felled and McNair was again fouled after 23 minutes, this time just outside the box. On this occasion, however, the free kick was easily covered by the home defence.

The pitch was already very heavy and rain fell incessantly for the final three quarters of the match. This, however, was much more to Town’s advantage and the visitors levelled when Lee Harrison ran on to a long pass, kept the ball in play and netted the equaliser from a very tight angle out wide with 31 minutes gone.

Phil Williams also appeared to thrive in the wet conditions and his free kick from 25 yards out could well have given Town the lead at the interval, but for the efforts of the home stopper.

It was Williams again who had the first opportunity of the second half, but Buckley-Smith saved well. The action transferred to the other end and Umokoro-Emu ran on to a long pass, then crossed for former Town striker David Berry to put Ashton in front again on 54 minutes. Town’s response, however, was immediate. From the kick-off, Williams found Edwards in space and he finished smartly from 10 yards for what turned out to be the final goal of the game.

Fitzjohn’s dismissal for a second yellow card hardly affected Town’s ambitions and, restricting Athletic to just a couple of long-range efforts in the last half hour, the visitors had any number of opportunities to secure a deserved victory, the best falling to Osman who went through one on one on the home keeper before substitutes Shaun Judge and Adam Storey had half chances to score, but neither could get clean contact on the ball. One way or another, the Ashton defence just managed to keep the ball from crossing the line and it was Athletic who were the happier to hear the final whistle.

Town are gradually improving and, although still second from bottom of the table, they have several matches in hand on teams above them.

With another three away games to come before their next scheduled home fixture, they will by that stage have played 18 games, only five of which have been at Edge Green Street.

Saturday 1st December sees Town travel to league leader Maine Road FC, kick off 3.00pm and this is followed by a trip to Runcorn Linnets on Tuesday 4th December, kick off 7.45pm.

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