MATCH REPORT | West 1-2 Ashton Athletic

Saturday 27th April 2019, NWCFL Premier Division

West 1 (Hall 67)
Ashton Athletic 2 (Tinker og 21, Bandell 81)
Att: 459

West’s relegation to NWCFL Division One was confirmed following defeat to Ashton Athletic.

A Josh Tinker own goal and a late Christopher Bandell strike, either side of Stephen Hall’s equaliser, gave the Yellows a third win over West this season. The result, though, was effectively immaterial as relegation rivals Hanley Town and Padiham both won comfortably.

David Powell’s side had given themselves an unlikely shot at salvation by taking maximum points over the Easter period, but they never looked likely to make the final step to safety and fell to a 24th defeat of the season.

There was a mood of cautious optimism around Brookburn Road pre-match, but despite Tom Horner going close from a Hall corner inside two minutes, this was quickly punctured as Hanley and Padiham took leads in their games. And the Yellows twisted the knife just after the 20-minute mark when West failed to clear a cross and the ball found its way into the net via the luckless Tinker.

West responded as Horner again went close and Daragh Walshe saw his acrobatic volley fly just the wrong side of the post. But Ashton, who would end the day in the top five, were comfortable and took a deserved lead into the interval.

With Hanley and Padiham extending their leads, West re-emerged from the dressing room knowing that it would take a beyond miraculous comeback to salvage their Premier Division status. But they did at least look to sign off on a high note. Matt Eckersley was off-target from another Hall corner, before Hall fired in a spectacular leveller midway through the second period – latching onto a loose ball outside the box and arrowing a half-volley beyond Ashton keeper Martin Pearson.

The home side pushed forward as they looked for a winner but were caught on the break nine minutes from time, and Bendell was given the easy task of tapping home at the far post.

West were applauded off by another bumper home crowd at the final whistle – Brookburn Road recognising a valiant effort from Powell’s team, who were nine points adrift of safety before Christmas and looked doomed on more than one occasion. But the table tells its own story and West must now take stock as they return to level 10 for the first time since 2013.

West: Jones, Tinker, Miranda, Bourne, Horner, Eckersley, Howarth (Coombes 77), Cooper (Uchegbulam 60), Walshe, Hall, McLaughlin (Peach 66). Not used: Kirk, Henry.

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