Ashton United regained the Willow Wood Charity Cup at Seel Park on Saturday thanks to two late controversial goals in a game with added extra spice due to the recent mangement changes at both clubs.
Ex Mossley manager Steve Halford returned to Seel Park for the first time since his sudden departure to Hurst Cross last month along with an Ashton side containing four members of his Mossley squad from last season in Gary Gee, Chris Denham, Lee Rick and Ben Richardson though a fifth, Jay Gorton, was an absentee on this occasion.
Kayde Coppin, Lewis Nightingale, Andy Keogh and Charlie Weir were all unavailable for different reasons for Mossley. This saw several players given opportunities from the start, not least sponsors 'Man of the Match' Ryan Hopper who has added a little steel to his game and is looking a stronger competitor for it. Teenage striker Dougie Carroll and defender Andrew McClean were included amongst the six Mossley substitutes.
The first half was littered with niggling fouls meaning play was often interrupted with numerous free kicks awarded to both sides. From one such moment Ashton came closest to scoring when a 25 yard strike by former Droylsden winger Carlos Logan struck the left hand post and flew to safety.
Mossley had created a few half chances with Brian Matthews, Andy Hurst and Sam Madeley all asking questions of a solid visitors defence. Kyle McGonigle flashed a shot just over and Ashton keeper Paul Phillips did well to get behind two John Bennett drives.
Both teams defended solidly keeping clear scoring chances to a premium throughout the game, though Mossley keeper Russ Saunders did well to tip over a looping Martin Pilkington header.
The second half saw Mossley make a solitary interval change with winger Tyron Sealey replacing Kevin McGrath, a change which saw Kyle McGonigle dropping into the former Maine Road man's central defensive berth.
There were now even less scoring opportunities with Saunders saving from a Nat Kerr header and at the other end Hopper stealing in to hit a powerful volley wide of goal from a deep free kick.
Further substitutions were made by both sides before Ashton were awarded a free kick with 15 minutes remaining. Logan's scuffed his 25 yard effort, the ball hit one of his team-mates and went out for a goal kick. The referee's assistant had a different idea and bizarrely awarded a corner. The cross came in and Saunders was clearly fouled as he caught the ball causing him to lose control with Chris Mason able to score from close range despite Saunders vociferous protest. Harsh!
Worse was to come late in the game for Mossley after a Lilywhites attack had broken down. Mark Haslam was clearly fouled from behind by Ashton substitute Rick Sousa who then crossed low for Kyle Riley to tap in from a yard. Amazingly the referee awarded the goal. The man in charge, Mr Darby, was later heard to admit that he 'may have got that one wrong'. Again harsh on Mossley!
Ashton collected the cup almost apologetically at the end as a disgruntled Mossley team had already left the pitch. I strongly suspect that neither team will wish to dwell on this game for very long as pre season reaches it's finale and the sides prepare for the big kick off on 17th August.
Report by Wizard