MATCH REPORT | Ashton Athletic 7-1 West

Saturday 23rd December 2017, NWCFL Premier Division

Ashton Athletic 7 (Smith 4, 12, 17, Nicholson 55, Brownhill 60, Harrison 67, 86)
West 1 (Whyment 62)
Att: 82

A threadbare West endured a nightmare before Christmas as they were hit for seven for the second time this season.

A raft of absences meant Steve Settle was forced to name himself in the starting line-up for the first time in 2017-18, with Adam Hilton the only substitute, and Ashton Athletic were in no mood to be charitable as they tore into the visitors, blowing away any foundations laid by last weekend’s 5-4 win at Burscough.

Yellows striker Daniel Smith greedily ripped open his presents early, claiming a hat-trick inside the first 17 minutes, and the home side could even afford the luxury of Dale Korie-Butler striking a post with a penalty before the interval. Joshua Nicholson, Joel Brownhill and Jamie Harrison added further goals in the second half as the home side eased to a ninth league win in 15 games, with Georgi Whyment prodding in the merest of consolations for West.

West had barely escaped their own half by the time Ashton had run away with the game. Smith struck inside five minutes, seizing on Charlie Munro’s lofted through-ball and neatly beating Dryden, and he repeated the trick eight minutes later when he collected the ball inside the area and turned past Ryan Eiselt. His quickfire treble was complete when, after Nicholson was felled on the edge of the box, he swept a free-kick low into the left corner.

The barrage continued once the Yellows had established their lead – Korie-Butler and Nicholson both fired across the face of the goal, Ben Cartwright was denied by Dryden, and Smith almost snaffled a fourth when his half-volley was narrowly off target. The home side’s clearest opportunity to extend their lead arrived when Settle bundled over Munro in the area, but Korie-Butler’s scoring touch deserted him – the Yellows’ top scorer sending Dryden the wrong way from the spot but shooting against the right-hand post.

Ashton keeper Martin Pearson, a spectator for most of the match, was called into more active participation as the half drew to a close, tipping away Whyment’s cross with Omar McKenzie lying in wait, then acrobatically turning Tom Bailey’s close-range effort over following a Ben Steer corner. This was not to herald an unlikely comeback, though, and the Yellows poured forward again at the start of the second half and were rewarded with another pair of goals – Nicholson tapped in after a winding run from substitute Brownhill, then Daniel Regan’s cross gave Brownhill the opportunity to add his own name to the scoresheet.

Whyment’s first goal of the season just after the hour, forcing the ball over the line from a corner, was the briefest of respites as the home side homed in on a score similar to the beating Runcorn Linnets handed West in November. Harrison beat West’s malfunctioning offside trap and beat Dryden at his near post, before completing the scoring from outside the area following Korie-Butler’s set-up. Daniel Clarke denied Ashton an eighth when he steered Korie-Butler’s goalbound effort over the bar, but the damage had long since been done and West travel to Maine Road on Boxing Day with more than bragging rights on the agenda.

West: Dryden, Tinker, Banya, Eiselt, Clarke, Settle, Steer, Shaw, Bailey, Whyment, McKenzie. Not used: Hilton.

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