Report: Ashton Athletic 2-5 West
Tuesday 11th January 2022, Lancashire Challenge Trophy quarter-final
Ashton Athletic 2 (Nicholson pen 17, Brodie 52, Moran sent off 60)
West 5 (Cain 5, 35, Gavin 41, Elliott 55, Heathcote 84)
West set up a first Lancashire Challenge Trophy semi-final with an exceptional display of attacking football against Ashton Athletic.
A Harry Cain double, including his first West goal, was followed by strikes from Lee Gavin, Ben Elliott and Sam Heathcote as West knocked out higher-division opposition for the second round in succession.
With West out of action since the end of December, Chris Rowley selected a strong side for the trip to Brocstedes Park and saw his side open the scoring after just five minutes – Liam Delaney won the ball in midfield and found Cain, whose shot flew into the far corner of the net.
The home side drew level from the spot 12 minutes later, with Joshua Nicholson converting after Richard Brodie had been nudged over in the box. But West continued to look dangerous and Cain grabbed his second shortly after the half-hour mark, snaffling the rebound after Heathcote’s free kick had been pawed away by keeper Daniel Lever.
Gavin ensured West would take a two-goal lead into the interval four minutes before the break, sealing an excellent move involving Elliott and Delaney by slotting the ball low past Lever from inside the area.
Ashton started the second half strongly and pulled a goal back when Brodie swivelled in the penalty area and found the bottom corner, but Elliott’s clinical finish to a break spearheaded by Cain and Dontai Gabidon three minutes later restored the two-goal cushion.
The game was effectively ended as a contest with an hour played, as Niall Moran’s second yellow card left the home side reduced to ten. Gabidon, Rhain Davis and substitute Joel Swift all had chances to score as West enjoyed the extra space afforded to them, but it was Heathcote who finally added a fifth in spectacular fashion with six minutes remaining.
After Cain’s driving run was crudely ended on the edge of the box, the West skipper whipped a shot over the wall and out of Lever’s reach to register his 19th goal of the season.
There was still time for Connor Hancock to produce an acrobatic goal-line clearance to prevent Ashton claiming a further consolation, shortly before the referee confirmed West’s passage to a semi-final with Atherton Collieries on 16th March.
West: A. Jones, Cook, Hancock, Delaney (Ryan 73), Dibble, Heathcote, Cain, Gavin (C. Jones 68), Elliott (Swift 81), Davis, Gabidon. Not used: Westall, Eme.
Eckersley’s Plumbers & Locksmiths Player of the Match: Harry Cain.