Scarborough Athletic pegged back by late Ashton leveller
Scarborough Athletic were pegged back to a 1-1 draw by Ashton United in their opening NPL Premier Division home game of the season on Tuesday night.
Ten months after their last home NPL fixture, Boro entertained Ashton, the side that knocked them out of the FA Cup last season at a buoyant Flamingo Land Stadium, in front of an excellent crowd of 1,054.
With ex-Boro duo Harry Spratt and Harry Coates in their side, the visitors provided stern opposition, and the first half was scrappy and hard fought, with neither keeper being tested in the opening half hour.
Ashton’s Ben Hardcastle had a shot deflected wide by Bailey Gooda in the eighth minute, Cartman headed over for Boro, then Michael Coulson had a tame shot held by Ashton keeper Greg Hartley, before Boro suffered a blow on 23 minutes when Kieran Weledji went off with a hamstring injury to be replaced by Dylan Cogill, who came on to forge a strong central defensive trio with Gooda and Will Thornton, all three turning in sterling performances.
Lewis Maloney made a good interception to break up a promising Ashton move, and Lewis Turner scuffed a shot wide, then had another effort deflected past the post.
Ashton’s best chance of the first half saw the dangerous Hardcastle flash a powerful shot wide, and shortly before the interval Boro thought they had scored, when Watson lofted a free-kick into the area, keeper Hartley went up for the ball, but didn’t hold it, and Thornton headed into the net, only for the referee to blow for a foul on the keeper.
Boro came out with much more purpose in the second half, with Coulson rotating from left to right wings and causing problems with his pace and energy, but both sides have top defensive line-ups, and chances were at a premium.
Ashton skipper Michael Brewster headed wide, before Boro took the lead on 64 minutes, when Coulson raced onto a long through ball from defence, his first touch was heavy, but he took the ball past the keeper, who dived to bring him down, and Ryan Watson stepped up and blasted home from the penalty spot.
Boro seemed well in control, and Ash Jackson on the left sent some great balls into the visitors goalmouth, while Ryan Watson, Coulson, Cartman and Maloney harassed the hard-pressed Ashton defenders without ever really testing the keeper.
Then out of the blue, Ashton drew level on 78 minutes when Ben Hardcastle latched onto a through-ball and smashed a stunning half-volley into the top corner of the net, with the linesman ignoring Boro’s appeals for an offside decision.
Late on Jackson blazed a shot wide and Watson struck a long-range effort straight at the keeper as the game ended 1-1.
Gooda, on his 75th Boro appearance, and Thornton were both outstanding, with keeper Ryan Whitley handling confidently throughout, and there were several other good performances, but manager Jono Greening still has work to do in the attacking department.
Overall, a decent game, and it was great to hear the crowd in such fine voice.
BORO: Whitley, Weledji (Cogill 23), Jackson, Turner, Thornton, Gooda, Coulson, Watson, Cartman, Maloney, Glynn
Subs (not used): Cadman, Hutton, Ingham
BORO MAN OF MATCH: Bailey Gooda.