MATLOCK TOWN 1, ASHTON UNITED 1
Ashton United extended their unbeaten run to five matches after gaining a hard-won point at championship contenders Matlock Town.
The Gladiators were unable to conquer the Hurst Cross side whose recent revival has lifted them from the lower reaches of Northern Premier League, premier division to the top half of the table.
With Buxton, South Shields and Matlock occupying the top three places – it is proving a Titanic battle for the title – the two points Matlock dropped could ultimately prove costly.
Tom Bentham and Jack Redshaw were handed starts at Causeway Lane with Harry Spratt dropping to the bench.
And it was Bentham who had the first chance of the game after two minutes when his shot was blocked by advancing goalkeeper Joe Young.
A header across goal for the hosts gave Alex Byrne a clear sight of goal, but he took too long and failed to convert before Alex Wiles cut inside before sending a raking effort over the bar.
Ashton had another chance when a great flick by Florian Yonsian put Ben Hardcastle in a great position before he took one touch too many.
A Matlock corner saw Terry Hawkridge’s effort on the turn saved at the foot of the post by goalkeeper Greg Hartley.
The open nature of the game suggested that the breakthrough wasn’t far away and after 20 minutes Ashton lost possession trying to play the ball out from the back and left back Jes Uchegbulam, the former Mossley winger, finished well from a tight angle.
Ashton equalised eight minutes before the break when John Lufudu broke before Redshaw was fouled as he received his pass just outside the area from which Cole Lonsdale curled home a superb equaliser with Young unmoved in the home goal.
On the hour, Matlock’s Liam Hughes flicked a clever half volley goalwards which saw Hartley at full stretch to tip the ball away.
The crowd was getting increasingly restless as the Robins ran down the clock resulting in Michael Brewster being booked for leaving the field too slowly.
Right on full time, Ashton could have had the last word as Liam Tomsett’s fine pass sent Yonsian into the area where he steadied himself before blazing over.
Ashton United: Hartley, Lufudu, Lonsdale, Sheridan (Simpson 45), Coates, Coker, Hardcastle, Brewster (Tomsett 89), Bentham, Redshaw (Spratt 70), Yonsian. Sub (not used): Raynes, Abadaki.
Report: David Robinson