CLASHING WITH ASHTON; CREWE CAN'T CLAIM ALL THREE POINTS
                        	

Crewe FC welcomed Ashton Town AFC to the Cumberland looking to maintain their impressive home record for the season. They knew it would be a tough test however, with both teams scrapping it out towards the top of the table. Buoyed by their cup success in their previous two games, it was now time to see if the team could continue this form in the league? Crewe kicked off the first half, and began an opening 15 minutes devoid of any clear cut chances. Plenty of effort from two teams who were both battling for the upper hand, and it quickly became obvious why both teams were scrapping it out at the top end of the table. The first chance fell to Ashton, a fierce shot was blocked by a Crewe defender before the follow up effort was blazed over the bar. Crewe’s first opening came in the 14th minute when a neat over the top through ball by Kieron O’Connor almost picked out Derice Richards but the opposition keeper was out to claim it. Two minutes later it was Derice again getting involved, latching onto a cross from the right by Curtis Lewis but he just couldn’t get enough power on it and his tame header was held by the keeper. In the 20th minute Nathan Southern cleverly beat his marker, drove into the box but his dangerous square ball was cut out by a defender and turned away for a corner. From the corner, the ball was only half cleared to Jake Maunder who fired a volley over the bar from the edge of the box. It was then Ashton’s turn to try their luck, first firing wide from a freekick, and then some good Crewe defending and a flying Ian Carr stifled a dangerous Ashton attack. Crewe then responded, Derice fired a long range effort just wide of the post in the 34th minute, before a whipped Nathan Dyer cross was well held by the opposition keeper with Crewe’s two strikers lurking. If that cross was dangerous then Derice’s cross just two minutes later was nearly lethal but a lunging southern was inches away from getting a goalwards touch on it. The final chance of the half arrived in the 44th minute when a cross to the back post by Dyer was almost turned in by Conor Alcock after an off balance shot but it rolled just wide of the post. A tense first half, with neither keeper being overly exerted. Some good football on show but both teams ultimately cancelling each other out in the first 45 minutes. Those watching from the side-lines may have been expecting another edgy opening to the half as Ashton got the second underway. However just three minutes in a hopeful long ball upfield directed roughly at Southern, who shrugged off and outfoxed his marker, latched onto it and finding himself through on goal clinically finished past the stranded keeper. 1-0 to Crewe who broke the deadlock first. The Blues almost doubled their lead less than a minute later when another long ball flummoxed the away defence dropping somewhat fortuitously to Derice who controlled it well before hitting a dipping volley from 25 yards that beat the keeper but dropped just over the bar. A Harry Ashworth freekick from the halfway line fell to JJ Bailey in the penalty box following a poor clearance, but the defenders sweetly hit first-time volley was well saved by the keeper who got down quickly. The same Ashworth-Bailey combination in the 58th minute, this time JJ getting a deft headed flick but the keeper again pulled off a good save to deny Crewe. In the 70th minute some good play between Derice, Southern and Curtis eventually played in Derice but a last ditch tackle denied the forward. The first real scare of the half for Crewe came in the 73rd minute when only a goal line clearance by a strategically placed Dyer denied Ashton from a corner. Straight up the other end and a mistake in the defence allowed Derice to run through unchallenged but the keeper scrambled to make a save and spare the defenders blushes. The second scare for the home team came in the 76th minute when a square ball was turned in after some weak defending, but the linesman’s flag was already up, a let off for Crewe. Ashworth’s freekick in the 82nd minute evaded everyone in the Ashton box before falling to the newly introduced Lukas Synowicz at the back post but the keeper was out quickly to block the shot. However it was third scare unlucky for Crewe, when in the 87th minute a fierce freekick beat the Crewe wall and cannoned in off the desperately unlucky Arran Lyons. 1-1 with five minutes to go. Only a perfectly timed block by last man Jake Maunder denied Ashton taking all three point in the final minute following a swift counter attack. A fantastic game of football despite the scoreline, and a great show of effort from both teams until the final whistle. Post-match manager Andy Aspinall was still proud of his team and pleased with the point earned. “It’s a really good point, Ashton I expect will be up there challenging at the end of the season, and I think we’ve played really well today. We deservedly took the lead in my opinion, I thought we defended brilliantly and overall it was a really good performance. It feels a bit disappointing at the moment just because of the nature of the goal, it’s a late equaliser from a set play. But at the beginning of the day I’d always back us to win at home, but in truth I think it’s a good point, a really good point. It keeps the good form alive, I think we’ve lost 1 in 9, and again we’re taking points off good teams as well. So in terms of the way that we’re progressing as a group I’m really, really happy. Southy’s back in the goals, Harry Ashworth was great, JJ Bailey and Jake Maunder were great, and there was a lot of good performances.”


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