ASHTON UNITED 0, RADCLIFFE FC 2
A goal at either end of the game was enough for league leaders Radcliffe FC to take all three points from Ashton United at Hurst Cross despite being reduced to 10 men in the first half.
There is no stopping Radcliffe as this was their 11th win in 12 games as they are six points clear at the top of Northern Premier League, premier while the Robins remain third.
The hosts restored centre back Sam Baird but got off to the worst possible start as just three minutes in Brad Jackson’s right-wing cross led to a bout of pinball in the home area after several attempted clearances with the ball eventually falling for Lois Maynard to fire home through goalkeeper Luke Simpson.
Marcus Cusani then won a throw in down the left wing which saw a loose ball fired over by James Hardy.
Radcliffe’s Luke Joyce found sufficient space to shoot straight at Simpson.
WInger Alex Byrne was fouled by Scott Duxbury and his fine delivery saw Dan Cowan’s header deflect out for a corner and the clash between winger and left back continued eventually leading to a red card for Duxbury on the half hour for barging Byrne over.
Baird saw his header from a corner tipped away by Mateusz Hewelt in the visiting goal and in added time Sean Newton’s clearing header out of defence saw Byrne’s first time volley hit the outside of the post.
Byrne was back in the action after the break as Oliver Thornley picked up a booking for fouling Cusani with the right winger hitting the side netting with his near post free kick.
Just past the hour Byrne won another corner and when his return ball was punched out by Hewelt.
Jason Gilchrist was dispossessed as he was about to shoot and then came even closer to equalising as he picked up a loose ball and saw his tremendous strike come back off the right-hand post.
Byrne’s persistence once again took him along the by-line from where his cross was blocked out at the near post.
Josh Hancock forced Simpson into a good save having collected Baird’s headed clearance.
With Ashton still pressing, they were hit by a sucker punch three minutes from time as substitute Nicky Adams played a one-two and raced into the area before settling the matter with a chipped finish over the advancing Simpson.
Ashton United: Simpson, Cowan, Newton, Lonsdale (Milner 76), Burke, Baird, Byrne, Rose (Potts 90), Gilchrist, Cusani (Adams 76), Hardy. Subs (unused): Bianga, Robbins.
Report: David Robinson.