Cheadle Town 1-2 Ashton Town

Damn you, Ashton Town. If we should fall short of the play-off picture by five points come the end of April, we shall be visiting your house with pitch forks and a rather irritable mood.

We might end up losing twice to other teams in this league yet this season but having taken the lead in both Ashton Town games this season we have twice gone on to do the one thing we rarely do (as the statistics tell us): lose once we have scored first.

This defeat wasn't as galling as the one back in autumn but is still irritating all the same. We "fell away", "ran out of legs", call it what you will in the second half thus allowing an improved Ashton Town performance after the break to get the better of us.

Credit to both sides for making a half-decent game of it on a rather difficult, sticky surface; one ideally suited to the sliding tackle and where every pass and manoeuvre had to be thought about for just that second longer.

It took 16 minutes for the first decent chance to come: John McLaughlin seeing his effort blocked well by the Ashton keeper after it fell to his feet at the edge of the box.

Two minutes later and we were ahead. Chris Sherrington scampered down the left, putting in an inch-perfect cross for the untroubled James Horan to head home from the centre of the box.

Liam Tongue sent a long range effort just wide on 33 minutes before Rick Whyatt should have put us 2-0 up, instead shovelling his effort over the bar when in a good position from close range.

Tom Elford was the first goalkeeper called into action in the second half, holding well from a drilled effort from the edge of the box before James Horan looped a shot inches over the bar following a flowing move from us.

Ashton Town then got their grip on the game.

Only a world class, last-ditch tackle from James Dunn stopped them drawing level on 56 minutes before they struck the crossbar with a speculative effort a minute later and then saw one of their substitutes get himself in a good position but shoot wildly over.

On 67 minutes, we demonstrated that it was the season of goodwill. Reacting to a through-ball, both keeper Tom Elford and full-back Luke Pearson managed to collide with each other on the edge of the box, allowing Ashton's Weaver to roll the loose ball into the net.

Liam Tongue then tested the keeper again with a fierce drive before Ashton went and took the lead nine minutes after their equaliser, Weaver by name and nature, switching inside and out on the edge of the box before finishing well.

No match for us this coming weekend. Next up is the Cheshire Senior Cup tie versus Tranmere Rovers on Tuesday 12th before a trip to Daisy Hill on Saturday 16th.

TEAM: Elford, McLaughlin, Pearson, Hincks (Naughton), Sacks (Kennedy), Dunn, Jones (Nsimbe), Tongue, Horan, Whyatt, Sherrington. SUBS: Kennedy, Nsimbe, Naughton, Piggott (gk)