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Ashton United FC 2 Chasetown FC 3

Gary Birch sets himself to score the winner for Chasetown. Pic: Dave Birt

Gary Birch sets himself to score the winner for Chasetown. Pic: Dave Birt

An epic encounter saw Chasetown FC inflict Ashton United FC’s first Evo-Stik Premier League defeat of the season in a 3-2 thriller.

Despite poor conditions and a resilient display by the league pacesetters, the Scholars worked hard and cannily outwitted their opponents as the action got better as the game went on, scoring three superb goals.

An early free kick from the hosts on the right was headed out for a corner by Jack Farmer as the side who at kick-off had yet to concede a goal this season began in typical attacking fashion, a 30-yard shot from Ged Murphy clearing Ryan Price’s cross bar in the 12th minute.

Ashton took the lead in the 18th minute when Aaron Burns broke through the defence and rounded Price, and his shot rolled beyond the chasing Farmer and nestled in the corner of the net.

John Branch cleared a cross from the right as the relentless pressure continued from the hosts, but driving rain as the half progressed made conditions difficult and slowed the game’s pace considerably.

Price made a fine save from Burns on 37 minutes after he and David Owens worked well together at the front, while Farmer was looking strong down the right wing and tried a long range shot in the 40th minute but his effort went wide.

Price blocked two more shots from the impressive Burns as the second half got under way, but with the high winds increasing accurate shooting was becoming more and more tricky.

David Bridgewater’s free kick was headed out by the defence on 58 minutes as Chasetown began to show signs of a comeback, Ramone Stephens putting in some hard work in the midfield.

On 62 minutes, an equaliser came from out of the blue when a shot from Gary Birch from just outside the area evaded keeper Terry Smith and flew into the roof of the net, and the league leaders conceded their first goal of the season.

The hosts could have retaken the lead seconds later but Price was alert once again, while Stephens was still at top speed and cut through on the left on 68 minutes but his shot went wide.

Chasetown's new signing David Bridgewater wins the ball. Pic: Dave Birt

Chasetown's new signing David Bridgewater wins the ball. Pic: Dave Birt

A free kick from the right saw Matty Cohen head goalwards but Smith punched the ball into the air and the Ashton defence were able to clear, and the shouts of the travelling Scholars faithful grew louder by the minute as the action heated up.

Stephens then played in Dave Egan but Matty O’Neill cut the ball out for a corner, and the home defence continued to tighten further as the Scholars threw everything behind the ball.

In the 79th minute, the visitors got their just reward.  A low cross came in from the left and Ben Jevons beat two defenders to the ball before slotting it right-footed past the outstretched Smith and in at the far post.

The Scholars’ lead lasted just a few seconds as right from the kick-off Owens charged forward and beat Price with a right-footed shot, and the atmosphere reached fever pitch as the game approached its climax.

Danny Smith headed wide in the 82nd minute before Birch produced an absolute screamer from 30 yards out, his right-footed drive flying over Terry Smith and the Scholars were in front once again.

A very dangerous-looking last minute free kick for Ashton flew wide and the Scholars were safe for a hugely well-received victory, setting them up nicely for their FA Cup trip to Kidsgrove Athletic on Saturday (September 11), kick-off 3pm.

Ashton United: T Smith, Frost, Caldecott, Murphy, Rose, Robinson (c), O’Neill, B Smith, Burns, Steele, Owens.  Subs: Bennett, Landregan (B Smith 85), Young, Dawson (O’Neill 81), Richards (Caldecott 90).
Price, Farmer, Peel, Cohen, J Branch, Bridgewater, Stephens, Egan (c), Birch, Ryan, Jevons.  Subs: Swann-Horler (Jevons 90), D Smith (Ryan 76), Saunders (Stephens 92), Currithers, Woolley (GK).

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