Hednesford Town’s unbeaten start to the season came to an end against Ashton United in what would be an ultimately and forgettable afternoon in the Manchester rain.
Due to a clash of shirts the Pitmen were forced to wear an old away top belonging to the host side but they started very much on the front foot and almost took the lead in the fourth minute when a corner picked out Michael McGrath, but his header grazed the top of the bar on its way over.
Hednesford would strike the woodwork again three minutes later when another corner found Simeon Maye and his shot was pushed onto the post by Ashton goalkeeper Paul Phillips.
The home side then saw an effort flash across the box and away to safety before one of the first talking points of the afternoon took place. New Hednesford striker Jamie Matthews stole the ball off Joe Connor before being hauled down by the defender 25 yards out – with another player coming across to cover the officials deemed it worthy of only a yellow card.
Liam McDonald’s side would pay for those missed chances as they fell behind in the 13th minute. The ball was stolen off McGrath and laid into Tunji Moses who twisted one way and another before firing in a low effort from 20 yards which defeated Hednesford goalkeeper Dan Crane.
This led to the start of a 10 minute period where the home side were on top with both Richard Smith and Lee Gaskell seeing efforts land on top of the net as they narrowly missed the target.
The Pitmen had another chance which came and went in the 36th minute when Rhys Thompson fizzed in an effort which was spilt by Phillips but neither Matthews nor George Carline could turn it home.
Right on the stroke of halftime Hednesford were reduced to ten men in somewhat strange circumstances as Matthews was dismissed for throwing a coin off the pitch. The assistant deemed this to be thrown at him and Matthews was giving his marching orders.
Hednesford knew that the second half would be a tricky one with only ten men and they almost fell further behind in the 56th minute when a corner fell kindly to Chris Baguley at the back post but he blazed his effort well over the bar.
Pitmen substitute Ashley Sammons saw an effort from the edge of the box saved in the 65th minute before the home side doubled their lead with ten minutes to go. After playing the ball around the Pitmen defence it found its way to Baguley who curled a lovely effort home into the net via the post.
The visitors kept pressing though and almost reduced the arrears in the 88th minute when Gurjit Singh beat two men before seeing his effort kiss the post on its way behind for a goal kick.
As the game edged into stoppage time the Pitmen felt aggrieved with another decision when a cross into the box was handled by an Ashton defender but the referee deemed it not to be deliberate.
The Pitmen will be looking to respond on Monday evening when they host Marine at Keys Park.
Ashton United: Phillips, Mason, Mather, Gorton, Connor, Moses (Gee 67), Baguley, Smith (Lees 67), Wilkins, Gaskell (Banim 83), Crowther
Subs not used: Frost, Dorney
Hednesford Town: Crane, Thompson (Singh 72), Bramall, McGrath (Glover 54), Mutton, Flanagan, Maye, Thorley, Matthews, Geddes (Sammons 64), Carline
Subs not used: Ransome, Francis
Star Man: Calum Flanagan
Entertainment Rating: Three Stars