Hednesford Town will rue first half defensive mistakes after gifting Ashton United two goals before trying but ultimately failing to recover the deficit during a second half where the away side really had to battle to preserve their lead.
The Pitmen were looking to quickly recover from Wednesday’s FA Cup defeat against Buxton but the day had a sullen mood initially as a minute’s silence was held for Eddie Disney, father of Hednesford right-back John, who passed away suddenly in midweek and Lou Williams, a loyal Hednesford fan who also died recently.
Ashton started the brighter as Crane was forced to block bravely when Chris Lynch advanced on goal and Astley Mulholland should have done better as he rifled the rebound wide.
Neil Harvey headed wide when well-placed for the home side from a superb Nathan Woolfe cross before Sam Barnes’ clearance fell to Aaron Burns who took a touch and curled a superb left-footed shot into the top corner on twenty-seven minutes to concede a frustrating opener to Ashton.
Matty Kosylo skipped into the box past John Disney before crossing for Burns to double the away side’s advantage on forty minutes but Hednesford came out in the second half with real vigour.
Disney atoned for his earlier lapse as fellow substitute Jamey Osborne put in a superb cross from the right and the defender finished into the corner to score what was clearly a very emotional goal.
The goal set up a rousing Pitmen deluge of attacks as the home side desperately tried to score an equaliser.
Twice Ashton were at panic stations as the ball would just not fall for a Hednesford player in the penalty area and Harvey headed over the bar before Elliott Durrell curled a free kick straight at a grateful Paul Philips.
The Pitmen’s big chance came when Woolfe’s free kick was headed straight at the goalkeeper by Harvey when a yard either side would have secured the equaliser but Ashton held on for a well-earned but rather fortuitous victory.
Rob Smith will no doubt be frustrated that defensive lapses by his team continue to put pressure on his attacking unit but, despite the defeat, results went in Hednesford’s favour and The Pitmen are still in the early play-off shake up.
The Club would like to thank all the people who worked hard to commemorate Non-League Day on Saturday as a local dance troupe performed before the match and St Peter’s Primary School Year 4 football team took part in a penalty shoot out with mascot Pitman Pete at half time.
Rob Smith’s outfit will look to get back to winning ways on Tuesday night away at Nantwich Town before travelling to Grantham on Saturday as the league fixtures keep coming.
Crane, Barnes, Watkis (Disney 37 (53)), Bailey, Francis, MacPherson © (Rey 81), Bottomer (Osborne 46), Durrell, Harvey, Lennon, Woolfe
Subs Not Used
Philips, Frost, Caldecott, Beattie, Robinson, Lynch ©, Peers (Kosylo 19), Baker, Burns (27, 40) (Baguley 90), Mulholland (Deegan 73),
Subs Not Used
Bookings – Burns, Johnson,
Attendance – 489
HT Score – 0-2
Entertainment Rating – 4 Stars
Star Man – Craig Robinson