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Both Sides See Red In Wirral Derby

Ashville and Cammell Laird 1907 remain deadlocked in safety missions.

Ashville returned home to Ray Parker Stadium for the first time in two months as they hosted local rivals Cammell Laird 1907. This fixture was originally scheduled to be played on Boxing Day but the exceptionally wet winter season disrupted plans.

Both sides found themselves lingering just above the relegation zone going into kick off with only 3 points separating the two Wirral sides. The Cammell's had the better start with winger Nathan Johnston causing Villa's defence a cascade of problems. It was fitting then that Johnston was the first player to nearly break the deadlock after 5 minutes. A flick on from Kieran Hamm releasing Johnston in behind and the winger's audacious half volley lob over Will Ebbrell landed on the roof of the net.

Despite the early promise from Lairds, the game turned into a scrappy midfield battle with neither side really doing much up front. That was until the 26th minute when Josh Maldon saw his fierce volley go straight into the hands of Dominic Hoppe in the visitors goal.

Just a couple of minutes later and Connor Courtnell was the first player in the book for Ashville after the left back handled the ball just outside the area. This would prove to be an important moment in the game later on...

Courtnell would be in the thick of it again just before half time when Johnston nicked the ball off him before testing Ebbrell once more but the Villa keeper was determined to keep his sheet clean. It would be Kieran Hamm to next try and beat Ebbrell, forcing the Villa stopper into an amazing save from close range in first half added time.

Villa's next attempt didn't arrive until the 63rd minute and it was very nearly worth the wait. Ben Greenop beat his man wide of the box before drilling a cross into Joe Dulson at the back post. Dulson couldn't believe his misfortune as the ball bounced out off the crossbar. Ashville came into the second half with fresh impetus and just four minutes later they were cursing the crossbar Gods once more when Peter Morgan saw his back post flick also come off the upright.

In the 77th minute the complexion of the game changed entirely as Courtnell received a second yellow card and subsequently was sent for an early shower. This gave Lairds a player advantage for all of about 5 seconds as, for reasons only known to the player himself, substitute Ben Wood slapped Courtnell. Wood had only been on the field a matter of minutes but was also shown a red card for violent conduct.

So we went into the final ten minutes with both sides down to ten men. The game did open up but neither side could really create that killer chance. Until the 87th minute when Haydn Cooper forced Ebbrell into yet another top class save with a curling effort that looked destined for the top corner.

Ashville would almost win it with the final kick of the game when a corner found its way to the back post where substitute, Lee Bridge was waiting. The defender saw his heroic moment taken from him as a last second touch off one of the many bodies in the area, took the ball away from Bridge and out of play. With both referee and his assistant unsure who got that last touch, and with the additional time played, the final whistle was blown to bring this derby stalemate to a close.

Was it exciting? No

Was it tense? Very

All in all it was a gripping derby between two very evenly matched teams on the evening. Although both teams will be disappointed not to come away with 3 points, they can very much consider this game as a dress rehearsal/scouting mission for the reverse fixture at KRCT Stadium on Easter Monday.

Ashville still have two games in hand over Cammell Laird 1907, the Rock Ferry based team sitting two places ahead of Ashville. Villa will play the first of those two games in hand against fellow relegation rivals, Market Drayton Town, on Thursday evening before hosting Abbey Hulton United at Ray Parker Stadium on Saturday. As for Lairds, they travel to Barnton on Saturday for their first away trip outside of the Wirral since November.

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