ASHTON UNITED 2, STALYBRIDGE CELTIC 1
What drama as new loan signing Ekow Coker scored a second last-gasp winner for Ashton United in the space of five days.
The 21-year-old centre back, borrowed from Macclesfield Town, marked his debut by scoring an 88th minute goal in a 1-0 home victory against table-topping South Shields last Tuesday.
And four days later it was déjà vu as Coker did it again, but even later with a 90th minute winner in the home derby against Stalybridge Celtic which produced another grandstand finish at Hurst Cross.
Celtic took a 27th minute lead through Connor O’Grady and were arguably the better side until Ashton’s late fightback.
Florian Yonsian equalised from the penalty spot with 19 minutes left before Coker poked home the 90th minute winner which made it four straight wins in league and cup for Ashton who are beginning to climb away from the lower reaches of Northern Premier League’s premier division.
Celtic had the better of the first period and debutant Sam McLintock sliced a decent opportunity over from Justin Johnson’s throw in before Jay Fitzmartin forced Greg Hartley into a fine tip over from Callum Harris’s lay off.
Raul Correia was denied by another decent stop from Hartley with his foot before the pressure told and Harris got the better of Harry Spratt out wide and provided a cross which O’Grady slid in from close range.
Ashton eventually began to carve out chances as Michael Brewster sent Yonsian through on goal, but his left-foot effort had insufficient pace to trouble goalkeeper Liam Hughes and 10 minutes before the break Sam Sheridan’s long pass saw Tom Bentham put his attempt into the side netting.
O’Grady could have scored again as he headed Fitzmartin’s cross over from six yards and on the stroke of half time McLintock’s volley brought a good low save out of Hartley.
The second period opened with Celtic on the front foot as a scramble in the area led to Fitzmartin side-footing wide from a great position and a three against one break saw John Lufudu eventually crowd out Fitzmartin.
Ashton got back into the match after Keenan Quansah conceded a penalty by impeding Yonsian who picked himself up to score.
Following the equaliser, the Robins pressed forward with more purpose and Harry Coates header from Hartley’s long free kick saw Yonsian just fail to connect in front of goal and a long cross saw Hughes fail to clear with Brewster lobbing the loose ball over.
Bentham was again foiled at the near post, but in the last-minute Ashton won a corner which saw Cole Lonsdale’s delivery headed goalwards by Jack Redshaw with the rebound falling for Coker to poke home.
Ashton United: Hartley, Lufudu, Spratt (Tomsett 60), Sheridan, Coates, Coker, Hardcastle (Redshaw 76), Brewster, Yonsian, Ntula (Bentham 17), Lonsdale. Subs (not used): Simpson, Raynes.
Stalybridge Celtic: Hughes, Liptrott, Smith-Brown, Wedgbury, O’Grady, Quansah, Fitzmartin (Varela 66), Harris, Correia, McLintock, Johnson. Subs (not used): Jones, Doyle, Killock, Grewal.
Report: David Robinson