Ashton Athletic 1-1 West

Saturday 30th July 2022, NWCFL Premier Division

Ashton Athletic 1 (Conway 89)
West 1 (Elliott 77)
Att: 140

West were forced to settle for a point on the opening day of the NWCFL Premier Division season, as Ashton Athletic struck late to cancel out Ben Elliott’s opener.

Elliott’s opportunistic strike with 13 minutes remaining looked to have secured all three points, but Zach Conway pounced with one minute of normal time remaining to deliver a lesson in the harsh realities of the higher level.

A point apiece was ultimately a fair outcome after a game with no clear chances to speak of until the final 15 minutes, but in the coming weeks West will look to add more attacking threat to the defensive solidity displayed at Brocstedes Park.

Dontai Gabidon was West’s main outlet in the first period, forcing Ashton keeper Joseph Smith to paw away a shot at his near post before sending another effort narrowly over. At the other end, Andrew Jones was relatively untroubled with a defensive triumvirate of Ben Hampson, Markell Foulds and Laurence Taylor snuffing out the Yellows’ forays forward.

The game belatedly began to open up as the second half wore on, with substitute Liam Delaney pulling a shot wide following a set-piece. Delaney then had a key involvement in the game’s opening goal – Smith spilling his free kick into the path of Elliott, who snaffled from close range.

Gabidon and Curtis Miller had quarter-chances to grab a decisive second, but the game was always in the balance and the home side snatched an equaliser in the closing moments. A free kick from the left channel wasn’t fully cleared, and the lurking Conway converted at the far post to level the scores.

Ashton camped in the West half during four minutes of injury time, but the visitors survived to chalk up a point at the first time of asking.

West: A. Jones, Hancock (Graham 90+), Westall, Taylor (Gavin 90), Hampson, Foulds, Miller (Eme 90), C. Jones (Delaney 61), Elliott, Davis, Gabidon. Not used: Swift.

Eckersley’s Plumbers & Locksmiths Player of the Match: Markell Foulds.

Post-match reaction from Lenny Sullivan and Matty Phillips