Uttoxeter Town 1 v 0 Ashbourne
UTTOXETER Town consolidated second place in the Staffs County Senior League Division One table thanks to a 95th minute winner against an excellent Ashbourne outfit in a tense derby.
The league’s two in-form sides met, with Ashbourne intent on inflicting a first league defeat of the season on Mark Grimley’s men as well as strengthening their own title ambitions.
With a full-strength squad to choose from, apart from fullback Shaun Connelley, Grimley restored goalkeeper Alex Langridge at the expense of Steve Harris, while Chris Richards came in for Connelley in the only changes to the side that had hammered Sandbach seven days earlier.
The early signs were good for Town as Jason Beardsley whipped a free-kick over the wall to force a fine save from Ashbourne keeper Sean Jones before Tommy Smith crashed a volley across goal after a fine ball from Jack Holley.
Just before the half-hour mark, Town grabbed the lead.
Smith and Holley again combined before the latter was hauled down 15 yards out.
The referee pointed to the spot and it was winger Holley, after so many failures from his team-mates this season, who converted the penalty for his sixth goal of the campaign.
However, the visitors were gifted an equaliser minutes into the second half.
Langridge looked to play the ball out to Richards, but his pass was intercepted by Ashbourne frontman Sean Milward, who squared for partner Paul Spencer to slam home.
Town looked to regain the advantage by pushing further forward, but Ashbourne looked just as likely to take the lead with some fine counterattacking football, and they had a strong penalty appeal tuned down on the hour when Spencer was felled.
Seconds later, Tom Harvey nearly rubbed salt into the visitors’ wounds when he latched on to Smith’s flick but saw his effort rebound off the upright.
It was the same post which denied Smith with 10 minutes to go. The striker eased past John Ford before curling an effort round the keeper, but the ball rolled safely back into Jones’s arms off the upright.
It looked as though Ashbourne were returning to Derbyshire with a hard-fought point, and despite the introduction of key players Liam Sowter, Glyn Douglas and Lee Bagley, Town seemed destined to share the spoils as the game ticked into the last minute of injury time.
However, as Sowter lofted a ball to the back post, skipper Martin Gadsby rose to nod across goal and Richards blasted it home.
It caused mass celebrations at Oldfields in front of the watching 109 crowd as Town snatched all three points with the last kick of the game.
It was a fine victory for the hosts, if not a convincing one, that will set them up for a huge month in which Leek Town are the next visitors on Saturday, kick-off 2pm.
Town will be looking to avenge their shoot-out defeat in the Staffs Cup last month.
TOWN: Langridge, Beardsley, Farrelly, Ward, Richards, Holley (Sowter 70), Gadsby, Esplin, Collins (Douglas 70), Harvey (Bagley 68), Smith; subs not used; Lamburn, Metcalfe, Thompson, McCarron.
PLUMBING AND HEATING MAN OF THE MATCH: Chris Richards.