Victory proves elusive for Ashton pair and Billinge

Ashton Athletic had a disappointing weekend in the North West Counties Premier Division, losing 1-0 at home to Squires Gate.
Action from Billinge's draw against GreenallsAction from Billinge's draw against Greenalls
Action from Billinge's draw against Greenalls

The visitors made a lively start and almost took the lead in the opening minute with James Boyd firing just wide of the post.

Ashton threatened first when a dangerous free-kick was picked up by the wind and had to be helped over the crossbar.

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Gate thought they'd opened the scoring midway through the first half, only for the celebrations to be cut short by an offside flag.

Athletic came close on the hour mark, seeing an effort cleared right on the goalline by Jake Higham.

But the game-changing moment occurred two minutes later, when Sope Awe was taken down in the area, and Boyd converted the penalty.

Richard Brodie, newly-installed member of the Athletic management team, said: "It was a typical cagey game in terrible conditions.

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"We can't fault our lads' commitment, effort and desire to win the game.

"We just need to take our chances when we create them.

"It's no use moaning about the officials. I think the penalty was harsh, but that's the fine margins of football at this level.

"I've been here just over a week with Jay (Foulds), and relishing every minute.

"The lads have been fantastic and are buying into what we are trying to build here.

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"We will dust ourselves down and will have two good training sessions this week to prepare for Longridge."

Neighbours Ashton Town also tasted defeat, 5-1 on the road at Holker Old Boys, with four of the goals coming in the second period.

Town actually took the lead on 25 minutes through Brad Williams.

But the home side levelled shortly after when Town were unable to clear a corner.

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Town dodged a bullet shortly after the restart when Holker missed a penalty, but the respite was only temporary as the home side edged in front via a cross from the right.

It was 3-1 when another cross wasn't cleared, and 4-1 when a Holker man was able to fire home from 25 yards.

A poor afternoon was rounded off just before the end when Holker added a fifth goal.

Meanwhile, Billinge had to settle for a point on Saturday after a brilliant display by their Greenalls goalkeeper Aaron Tyrer.

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The game was switched to Barrows Farm at the last minute due to storm damage at Greenalls PSO's ground, and it took 45 minutes for the game to kick into life.

The first-half was a tough battle as the Storks faced the stiff breeze and, while they limited Greenalls to a couple of corners, the nearest they came themselves was when Tyrer brilliantly saved Ellis O'Keefe's effort.

However, the second period brought a flurry of action.

In the 47th minute, the Greens went close with a free kick, and two minutes later Richie Allen hit the post for the hosts, even though it wouldn't have counted as he was adjudged offside.

Liam Fitzgerald saw his free-kick sail over the bar, and then on 57 minutes the Storks were ahead.

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A through-ball found Aaron Bowen up against two defenders, but the striker superbly cut inside and unleashed a left-footed shot from the edge of the box.

Unfortunately for the home side, the lead lasted less than a minute.

The Billinge defence failed to cut out a cross that was converted at the far post.

From the restart, Sam Boydell tried his luck from 50 yards, but his shot grazed the top of the crossbar.

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It was now all Billinge as Fitzgerald went close with another free kick from distance, Bowen's header was superbly saved by Tyrer, and then the keeper performed miracles to keep out Boyland's shot.

James Browne met Boyland's free-kick with a powerful header but again Tyrer excelled, and then in the 88th minute the Greenalls’ custodian produced another great save to deny Fitzgerald.

There was a final scramble in the Greenalls' six-yard box but somehow the ball stayed out of the net.

After the game, the Storks manager Wayne Wardle was happy with the performance saying: "It was a much improved performance from ourselves and on another day we win that game.

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"‘But fair play to Greenalls as they defended well and their keeper was excellent - as he always is."

The man-of-the match award from sponsors PlayerProUK and Brothers Burgers went to Boydell who was absolutely outstanding in midfield for the full 90 minutes, while at the back

Browne was rock solid in just his third match for the Storks.

Next week Billinge entertain high-flying Broadheath Central (2pm).

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