Improving Barnoldswick Town give in-form side a real test

Craven Herald: Matthew Cavanagh, right, headed the ball against a post in a determined Barnoldswick Town display Matthew Cavanagh, right, headed the ball against a post in a determined Barnoldswick Town display

Barnoldswick Town 1, Ashton Athletic 2

Barnoldswick Town had Chris Taylor back in goal against the form team of the North West Counties League Premier Division, who had won nine straight and not lost in 13.

The hosts started well, Anthony Pollard putting in a deep cross which found Carl Ellerton, who laid it off to Matthew McNamara, but his shot flew agonisingly wide of Jay Foulds’ right-hand post.

Town continued to press and McNamara slipped the ball to Samuel Howell, who cracked a great shot against the foot of a post.

The home side took the lead on 12 minutes when a back-pass was a little short and it became a race between Foulds and McNamara, the latter just winning it and toe-poking the ball past the hapless keeper, running around him and scoring into the empty net.

Four minutes later, Matthew Cavanagh headed a Town corner against the foot of the same post that Howell had hit earlier.

The first real chance for Ashton came after 26 minutes, Philip Williams getting behind Town’s defence and hitting a fierce shot inches over Taylor’s bar. Then Michael Downing curled a shot inches wide.

Five minutes before half-time, Pollard had to be substituted because of a pulled hamstring, Sam Reeves coming on.

Three minutes later, Ashton won a free-kick just outside the Town penalty area and a well-struick shot hit Cavanagh’s hand in the wall as he jumped.

Even though the player wasn’t looking at the ball, the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty, and Stephen Kay scored easily to even things up.

Six minutes into the second half, Ellerton laid the ball back to Howell on the edge of the penalty area, and his crisp shot skimmed inches the wrong side of a post off the wet surface.

Ashton then hit a post, the ball ending up at the feet of a team-mate who squared it to the far post, Taylor recovering to make a point-blank save.

A minute later, Ashton took the lead, Dean Midgeley hitting a screamer from 30 yards into the far top corner.

Much-improved Town brought Joel Melia on to replace James Gill after 64 minutes, and the substitute almost created a goal for McNamara 13 minutes later.

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