Hednesford Town, faced with ten men for forty minutes of the second half, failed to break down a resolute Ashton United side who will be far happier with a point than Rob Smith’s men.
On a chilly day at Keys Park, marking the ‘I’m a Real Man’ anti-domestic violence campaign, a relatively quiet first half saw the home side struggle to impose themselves against a determined Ashton defensive unit.
Chris Clements’ early free kick was straight at the goal keeper and Cheyenne Dunkley headed wide from a corner.
Kyle Haynes made a brave block to prevent Matty O’Neill’s goalbound shot testing Hednesford’s goalkeeper Dan Crane and Elliott Durrell saw a similar situation after Terry Smith misjudged a long ball.
The best chance of the first half fell to Elliott Durrell on forty minutes as he broke the off side trap and saw his shot well saved by Smith.
The game looked to have swung to the advantage of the home side as Kevin Sanasy saw red for violent conduct following a clash with Pedro Monteiro, who received a caution for his part in the incident.
The sending off occurred with fifty-two minutes on the clock and Hednesford besieged their opponents’ goal for the rest of the second half, desperately searching for a goal to win the match.
Durrell found space on the right on the hour mark but his superb cross was headed just wide by substitute Gary Hay and Jay Denny looped a header the wrong side of the post.
Rob Smith could be heard encouraging his team forward as Ashton defended deep with only substitute Chris Amadi furrowing a lonely brow up front.
Mark Danks struck an upright with a superb left footed strike and Jamey Osborn saw a loose ball fall to him twenty yards out but the midfielders shot fizzed inches wide of the goal as The Pitmen desperately searched for a winning goal.
The final act of the game saw Darren Campion hit a volley into the ground and Smith tipped the ball over the cross bar following a corner as an exasperated Keys Park was left to reflect on an opportunity missed and mull over the first 0-0 draw overseen by their current management team since their first game in charge back in September 2010.
Despite only gaining a point The Pitmen are still within touching distance of Northwich and Chester at the summit of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division as they sit on forty-five points, three behind the two leading clubs.
Smith and Larry Chambers will have a week to work with their players without the distraction of a cup match in mid-week before The Pitmen look to continue their unbeaten home run against Mickleover Sports in the league again next Saturday.
Crane, Haynes (Danks 66), Shaw (Hay 46), Monteiro, Dunkley, Denny, Osborn, Clements, Robinson, Durrell, Campion ©
Subs Not Used
Quinn, Bailey, Jevons
Smith, Frost, Roberts, Murphy, Melling, Robinson, O’Neill (Harrop 62), Bennett, Madeley (Amadi 62 (Piana 93)), Sanasy, Caldecott
Subs Not Used
Bookings – Monteiro, Roberts, Caldecott,
Sent Off – Sanasy
Attendance – 471
HT Score – 0-0
Star Man – Pedro Monteiro
Entertainment Rating – 3 Stars