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Ashville Extend Unbeaten Run

Ashville beat Maine Road 2-1 to go 3 unbeaten.

It was Tuesday night delight at Ray Parker Stadium as Ashville beat a familiar adversary in their quest to secure safety in the NWCFL 1st Division South.

This was the fourth time Ashville had faced Maine Road this season (5 if you count the abandoned fixture) and after two wins and a draw going into this fixture, Villa were looking to continue their good form against the visitors.

Maine Road find themselves in the playoff race though and weren't going to make it easy for Ashville, indeed an early free kick on 7 minutes was whipped just wide of the post. It was a reminder for Villa that they were in for a battle.

Early scare aside, the home side soon got on the ball and started controlling proceedings. An absolutely insane flurry of corners (I lost count) didn't yield any immediate chances for Villa but they put plenty of doubt into the Road back line.

Ben Greenop nearly took advantage of the uncertainty on 19 minutes when the striker ran in behind and fired a tight angle shot back across goal which was saved by the legs of Oliver Brockbank in the visitors goal. This led to another flurry of corners as Villa pushed hard to take a fully deserving lead.

It wouldn't be until just after the half hour mark when the net would finally ripple. The forward line pressed the Maine Road defence into a mistake and a couple of passes and a cross later saw the ball land at the feet of Josh Maldon at the back post. The midfielder completely missed the ball with his first swing but he got a second bite of the cherry which he took with aplomb as he found the bottom corner.

Maine Road were down but not out and almost had their equaliser on 40 minutes when a corner floated into the near post went over Will Ebbrell, bounced off the line and come off the far post before eventually being scrambled away. It was a heart in mouth moment for Ashville but the home side held on to the lead going into the break.

That lead wouldn't last long into the second half though as a seemingly soft penalty was awarded to the visitors in the 48th minute. Tyler Devlin stepped up for the visitors and dispatched the penalty just beyond Ebbrell's reach into the corner.

Ashville didn't let their heads drop though and a little under 10 minutes later they almost sneaked back in front. Lewis Moynes beating his man skilfully down the right before finding Ben Greenop at the back post, unfortunately the striker couldn't guide the ball home but Maine Road were reminded that Ashville's attacking threat hadn't faded away.

The visitors didn't learn their lesson though and with 20 minutes to go, Lewis Moynes and Tom Davies connected expertly down the right hand side, dissecting through the Road defence before Moynes pulled the ball back for Davies who lost his balance as he shot, seeing his effort go just wide of the upright.

Villa would eventually regain their lead less than a minute later however. Skipper, Shaun Farrall, carried the ball deep into the away sides half before feeding Ben Greenop who turned away from three defenders before trying to beat Brockbank once more. The Road keeper could only parry the attempt though and the loose ball fell at the feet of Josh Maldon once again who smashed it into an unguarded goal to get his and Villa's second of the evening.

Despite an underwhelming second half from the playoff chasing visitors, they almost responded immediately. A low driving effort from the edge of the area forcing Ebbrell into a smart stop.

From that point on Ashville went into game management mode, keeping the ball in the corners and eating up as much of the clock as they could. It ultimately worked and cheers rung out around Ray Parker Stadium as the final whistle was blown.

It's another vital 3 points for Ashville as they look to put some daylight between themselves and the drop zone. Villa were handed a survival boost at the end of last week when it was announced that Ellesmere Rangers, who resigned from the league prior to the season's start, would be reinstated to the table taking up the bottom spot. This now means that Ashville sit 5 points and two places above the drop zone with 2 games in hand. It also means only two teams will now face the drop this season, further boosting Ashville's survival mission.

Ashville will now go on the road for trips to Stafford Town (30th March), Cammell Laird 1907 (1st April) and Winsford United (4th April) before then returning home for three games in the final week of the season against Eccleshall (6th April), Market Drayton Town (9th April) & Abbey Hulton United (11th April) prior to the seasons final day away trip to Cheadle Heath Nomads on April 13th

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