Ashton Town 3-2 Cheadle Town

As the tired old footballing cliche goes, two-nil is a dangerous scoreline. Those who were at Edge Green Street on Saturday bore witness.

There's two trains of thought where this defeat is concerned.

Should we have been more clinical with the chances that we had in a match we had hold of by its nether regions, with both hands, for 80 minutes...or did Anthony Trucca's unjust sending off upset our rhythm with the chickens coming home to roost in the last ten minutes?

Whatever. It's one of those defeats that has rankled yours truly all weekend and the best way of mentally putting it to bed is to write this report....

We started this match brightly and would take the lead within the first ten minutes.

After just six minutes a quickly-taken free-kick scuttled across the Ashton goalmouth only needing the barest of touches with us taking a deserved lead just two minutes later; Thabiso Magida finding Darryhl Mason with a delightful through ball for him to round the keeper and calmly roll home.

Darryhl Mason - our Man of the Match by a country mile

Darryhl Mason - our Man of the Match by a country mile

Steve Piggott's first save of the day came two minutes after that, making a good stop after the ball had kindly fallen to an Ashton player in the box before our next passage of play on 19 minutes saw us extend our lead: Darryhl Mason again latching onto a through ball on the left, beating the keeper to it and slotting home from the angle.

We pressed on. On 23 minutes Rick Whyatt won a similar race for the ball on the left but the angle for the shot on goal was too tight for him, with his resulting cross into the box finding nobody bar the keeper who had run back to cover the danger.

Just after the half-hour mark Chris Sherrington fizzed one in across the goalmouth that Mason was only inches away from turning home before Chris himself curled an effort just wide from outside the box a minute later.

Ashton finished the first half by poking an effort just wide of the post, making the most of a sloppy passage of play from us.

The second half started pretty much the same way as the first.

Chris Sherrington put Thabiso Magida through in the box on 47 minutes but Thab could only stab wide when in a good position with him then providing a cross for Rick Whyatt that was headed wide.

On the hour mark Darryhl was through on goal but thwarted by an excellent stop by the Ashton keeper with Steve Piggott then making an equally good stop down at the other end, tipping a long range drive over the bar.

And then, on the 62nd minute, our first red card of the season. From Steve's goal kick Anthony Trucca was one of three players challenging for the ball, extending his right arm out to give himself balance, an arm that an Ashton player runs into from behind.

There was absolutely no malice from Anthony at all, in fact he couldn't know that the Ashton player was coming up behind him, but the referee saw it otherwise, sending him off for violent conduct. If you want to form your own opinion then have a look at the video highlights that Ashton Town FC have done and fast-forward to the 8mins 20secs mark. The fact that Ashton Town have videoed the match helps us with a possible appeal.

I think the look on Luke Hincks' face says it all.... (photo courtesy of Dawn Marshall on her Flickr photostream here)

I think the look on Luke Hincks' face says it all....
(photo courtesy of Dawn Marshall on her Flickr photostream here)

Despite being down to ten men we still managed to forge two more chances to put the match to bed.

Great work by Mason on the right meant he was in the position to fizz a ball across the face of goal...just a shame there was nobody there to tap it home. He also went just wide with a solo effort on 76 minutes.

With eleven minutes remaining Ashton reminded us that they were still very much alive and kicking. Working down the right they pulled the ball back to an awaiting player who looked sure to smash it home and reduce the arrears, but somehow Steve Piggott managed to make a stop and then gather the ball that had squirmed out of his grasp.

Then, in the last ten minutes, the character and resolve that has served us well thus far this season inexplicably went AWOL.

On 80 minutes Ashton's Worsley latched onto a diagonal pass and cut inside and lashed home before a corner from the left was met by the head of an unmarked Dailey two minutes later.

In injury time the hosts stole the victory that had looked unlikely just ten minutes beforehand, Daniel Griffiths getting inbetween our defence to collect a curling pass and coolly knock it over Steve Piggott's head.

To cap the misery Luke Hincks was then given a red card for a reckless challenge which proved to be the last action of the match. We won't be appealing that one.

Next up for the First XI is another tricky-looking away trip to St Helens Town this coming Saturday.

TEAM: Piggott, McLaughlin, Pearson, Trucca, Kennedy, Dunn, Magida (Pegler), Hincks, Mason, Whyatt (Kelly), Sherrington. SUBS: MacAuley, Pegler, Kelly.