ASHTON UNITED 1, SOUTH SHIELDS 1
A cracking free kick just past the half hour from Cole Lonsdale was enough to hold promotion favourites South Shields to a draw at Hurst Cross in front of a crowd of 334.
Lonsdale had been restored to the starting line-up after Saturday’s win at Liversedge and was joined by captain Michael Brewster and Harry Coates in central defence as the Robins made it four points from a possible six from their first two league matches.
Shields, managed by former Premier League star Kevin Phillips, made the quicker start as flying winger Dillon Mottley-Henry outpaced Niall Battersby to the by line and saw his pull back to the penalty spot met by the head of Mackenzie Heaney who brought a flying save out of Greg Hartley.
Hartley’s long clearance reached Callum Saunders who just failed to bring it under control and, after Sam Baird had fouled McGowan 25 yards out, Hartley dropped to his left to keep out Martin Smith’s free kick.
James Baillie’s free kick for Ashton then saw Coates’ header helped past the near post by Saunders and Baillie was then fouled by Blair Adams on the edge of the area giving Lonsdale the chance to fire home superbly into the far corner leaving Myles Boney no chance.
Shields could have levelled as a break down the middle saw Coates’ back header just evade Mottley-Henry allowing Hartley to grab the ball. With half time approaching Will McGowan failed to get any power on Hunter’s right wing cross and the return from the opposite flank saw the same player giving Hartley a comfortable save.
The visitors were immediately threatening from the restart as a throw in saw Heaney squeeze an effort right along the goal line with Matt Regan clearing and Smith then brought a good save out of Hartley from the edge of the area with Mottley-Henry converting the rebound from an offside position.
The equaliser duly arrived on the hour as Jordan Hunter’s deep cross was helped wide of the far post by Adams leading to a corner which saw Robert Briggs’ chipped pass into the area rifled home from a narrow angle by Michael Woods.
With time running out a forward pass from Max Harrop saw fellow substitute Jacques Etia win a corner from which Sam Baird’s header was held. At the other end, Heaney cut inside after a corner and curled his shot wide of goal.
Shields could still have snatched all three points but for Gomes Carrington taking a heavy touch on to Lewis Alessandra’s pass into the area.
Ashton United: Hartley, Battersby, Regan, Baird, Coates, Milner (Harrop 51), Baillie (Tomsett 38), Brewster, Saunders (Etia 67), Hough, Lonsdale. Subs (not used): Spinelli, Taylor.
Report: David Robinson