THIS week’s battle of the Robins produced another goal-fest as ALTRINCHAM brought ASHTON UNITED’S 12-game unbeaten run to an end.
Going into Tuesday night’s Evo-Stik Premier game, 5th-placed Ashton United were 3rd in the form table and league leaders Alty 5th.
Last time the two sides faced each other was in a thrilling Integro Cup tie in October, which ended 3-3 before Alty won on penalties.
And Phil Parkinson’s men got another one over their Greater Manchester rivals with a 3-2 victory at the J. Davidson Stadium.
Max Harrop and James Poole struck inside 15 minutes to put the hosts in charge, before Jordan Hulme claimed what proved to be the match-winner on 72 minutes.
But Alty had to endure a nervy finish as Aaron Chalmers converted an 83rd-minute penalty while John Pritchard pulled another one back for Ashton in stoppage time.
Parkinson said: “I’m massively disappointed with the end of the game. I’ve expressed my feelings to the players about the last 10-15 minutes, where we lost control of the game and made some poor decisions. It sounds like I’m being really harsh, but I won’t tolerate that from my players.
“The reason I’m so disappointed is because I thought we absolutely dominated for about 70 minutes, it should have been more than 3-0. So I’m not happy with how we finished but overall we were superb, and we need to be beating the teams around us. Everyone else around us won tonight too so it’s important we keep winning.”
It didn’t take long for the deadlock to be broken – 100 seconds, in fact – as Harrop unleashed a left-footed effort from far out and keeper Dave Carnell didn’t even attempt to save it as Harrop’s effort swerved through the air. Not many keepers could have saved that.
Some exceptional interplay down the left between Josh Hancock and Connor Hampson then resulted in left-back Hampson, who has made a permanent move from Stockport County, crossing for Poole to head home.
Alty played with intensity throughout the first half, almost mirroring Liverpool’s
‘gegenpress’ played under Jurgen Klopp, and Hulme should have put the hosts out of sight just before half-time but his effort was brilliantly saved by Carnell.
However, a mix-up in the Ashton defence gifted possession to Hulme and the Alty striker slotted past Carnell from a tight angle (pictured at top, courtesy of Michael Ripley) to make it 3-0.
A Shuan Densmore foul gave Ashton hope as Chalmers slotted in the penalty, and the drama continued as Pritchard’s free-kick struck the bar and a goalmouth scramble ended with some heroic defending from Densmore on the line.
Pritchard scored from a similar free-kick late on but Alty ground it out to stay 6 points clear. Shaw Lane won at Coalville to go clear of Grantham in 2nd place and Alty are set to host Shaw Lane next Tuesday.
First, they await the outcome of a pitch inspection at Buxton at 10am on Saturday morning. The Bucks, who are 15th, sacked Martin McIntosh this week and handed the reins to his assistant Tim Ryan, the former STALYBRIDGE CELTIC defender.
Ashton are due to host Coalville this Saturday before visiting Lancaster City on Tuesday night.
Stalybridge gave their survival hopes a boost with a 2-0 home win over Stafford Rangers in midweek.
WELCOME WIN FOR STALYBRIDGE
Rock-bottom Sutton Coldfield held Bridge to a 1-1 draw last Saturday, with Connor Hughes scoring for Bridge, and he followed that up with a 2nd-half brace on Tuesday night.
“We didn’t feel we got what we deserved from Saturday’s game,” said Burr. “On Tuesday night, Stafford had a bit of a spell in the 2nd half but overall I thought our performance was good again.
“I was pleased for everybody who came to get behind the lads. They’ve worked really hard in the last couple of games and it was nice for us to get our rewards.”
Bridge remain 2nd-bottom but have now won 3 and drawn 2 out of 6 games in 2018 so Burr hopes for another positive result at Mickleover this Saturday. Celtic then visit 4th-placed Warrington on Tuesday night.
“We’re still looking for that first away win in the league and hopefully that will come on Saturday,” added the Bridge boss.
“The lads are fully confident because we’re playing some good football, as well as creating lots of chances, and on Tuesday we managed to kill Stafford off.”