West ended a three game losing streak with a thrilling 3-2 victory away to Ashton Athletic. Manager Steve Settle made six changes from Friday nights home defeat as Scott Mason, Joe Shaw and Lee Gavin all missed out through injury. Hayden Buckley-Smith replaced Dean Williams in goal whilst there were starts for Paul Socha, Rick Ainsclough, Rick Gleave and Jonny Poizer as West’s front four age averaged just 21.
Both teams started brightly and both created early chances as Ashton Athletic thought they’d taken an eight minute lead when Hayden Buckley-Smith caught a corner but was barged in the back spilling the ball allowing Isaac Kusaloka to head home but the referee blew for a foul. A minute later West went close with an effort of their own as Rcck Gleave did superbly to turn his marker before curling an effort just wide of the post from the edge of the area.
West went close again on 13 minutes with a double chance as Rick Gleave broke the offside trap but his cross just evaded three waiting West players in the middle before Ben Woods put his cross back across goal but Poizer couldn’t force it towards goal. Ashton Athletic countered and only a superb tackle from Richmond Botchey denied Kusaloka.
West took the lead on 21 minutes as a wonderful pass from Ben Woods cut through the Ashton defence leaving Poizer one-on-one; the West striker made no mistake and powered an effort beyond Martin Pearson into the bottom left hand corner. It was Poizer’s fifth goal of the season. Three minutes later West almost doubled their lead as they jinxed through the Ashton defence but Ash Woods left footed effort was brilliantly saved on the line one handed by Pearson. Captain Anthony Potts followed that up with a header just over the bar at the far post following a good corner from Rob Black. Two minutes later Ashton created their best chance up to that point as a quick counter attack down the left and low cross found Kusaloka but he fired wide with the goal at his mercy.
The game continued to open up as both sides went end-to-end as first Gleave saw a hard goal bound effort blocked before Buckley-Smith saved a hard effort curled towards goal form the edge of the area. Ashton began to assert themselves on the game but the West defence held resolute under increasing pressure in the final third with Buckley-Smith again pushing a strong effort from distance away from goal.
On 43 minutes West almost made it 2-0 as first Ben Woods volleyed over Socha’s cross before Ash Woods hooked an effort over his head onto the roof of the net after Pearson dropped cleared effort. Neither side relented before the half which ended after 51 minutes as a result of the referee’s watch stopping but West took a deserved lead into the break.
The second half continued the same unrelenting tempo as the first and Weat almost made it 2-0 on 52 minutes as Ash Woods again broke the offside trap, selflessly squared to Poizer but the cross was slightly behind him and Ashton were able to clear. Three minutes later West again countered with Ben Woods curling another low effort just wide of the post from 10 yards out after superb work from Gleave.
West’s pressure was finally rewarded on 65 minutes as they broke down the left, the low cross from Poizer found Black in the middle and the West teenager cannoned the crossbar; the ball fell to Ash Woods who drove it back across goal allowing Black to flick it into the bottom corner.
Ashton Athletic fought back immediately as Marcus Cusani glided past Botchey, harshly booked in the first half, and his shot snuck past Buckley-Smith into the bottom right hand corner. West rang the changes as Jordan Poole and Ben Steer replaced Rick Ainsclough and Ben Woods as Settle tried to counterattack West’s natural desire to sit deep.
Ashton pulled level on 77 minutes as Botchey was adjudged to have committed a foul at the edge of the area, despite appearing to get much of the ball, and Cusani stepped up and powered his second over the wall to make it 2-2.
The games turning point came a minute later as the referee brought play back to book Rob Black for a foul with the home side bearing down on goal. A minute later West were ahead as they countered again and Gleave played in Black with a superb through ball allowing the West teenager to power a shot that was too hard for Pearson to hold and hand West the lead for a second time.
West went close again a minute later as Gleave, Black and Ash Woods combined to open up the Ashton defence but he fired straight at the keeper. Despite late pressure from the home side, and an additional 5 minutes of added time, West secured a vital three points to keep them in sight of the top 4.
It was the first win over Ashton Athletic in seven meetings between the two sides and only West’s second victory at Brocstedes Park in six visits.