Lions Labour And See Red As Robins Rise To The Occasion

Guiseley fell to a third consecutive defeat as they were beaten 2-0 by an efficient Ashton United side at Hurst Cross on a cold April Fool’s Day writes Edward Robertson.

There was no joking around from manager Paul Phillips after the game. “On the whole, they’ve had more possession, we had the better chances, but they just took their opportunities, and we didn’t.”

Before kick-off, Deputy Labour Leader and Member of Parliament for Ashton-Under-Lyne, Angela Rayner spent time volunteering. She was selling programmes, food and even announcing the teams onto the pitch, in support of the Ashton United Community Foundation, of which she is a patron.

Given the Lions current injury list, Rayner might also have been asked to pitch in at left wing. Guiseley would once again be without a number of players including Andy Kellett, Cam Mason, Harvey Rowe and Lewis Whitham.

In a frantic first half, the Lions were first to trouble the home side. Benni Smales-Braithwaite’s long range free kick trickled just wide after fifteen minutes.

Ten minutes later Guiseley were on the front foot once more. Ross Daly, returning to the side following suspension, weaved his way through midfield and released Kallan Murphy only for his effort to be scuppered by former Lions keeper Tom Scott.

The resulting corner maintained the pressure. Courtney Meppen-Walters headed the ball across the face of goal to St Kitts & Nevis international Jameel Ible, whose header landed into the hands of Scott.

It was then the Robins’ turn to attack. Former Kidderminster man Nathan Lowe produced a dangerous free kick that shaved the crossbar. The ball did not appear to take a deflection, but the referee awarded a corner. It proved to be a costly decision for the Lions, as the ball that was then curled in smashed against the crossbar and landed fortuitously for Jack McKay to poke the ball home.

After the break Guiseley returned invigorated. They started quickly when Smales-Braithwaite’s low cross found Cassidy whose shot was saved by the impressive Scott.

Another chance passed the Lions by after Smales-Braithwaite jinked passed a defender and produced a sweeping shot that was palmed away by Scott. The subsequent corner further frustrated the travelling support as Cassidy’s leaping header bounced narrowly wide.

Only two minutes later, Guiseley’s failure to capitalise on their ascendancy was punished. Ashton United sealed the three points following a defensive mishap from the Lions. McKay found space to shoot only for his effort to be palmed away by Morgan Bacon. However, the stand-in goalkeeper was powerless to prevent Lewis Thompson from tucking away the rebound.

The Robins threatened to extend their lead further. A ball that drifted over to the back post fell to Thompson, whose slide rule pass picked out Jason Gilchrist to slot home. The Lions were relieved to see the assistant referee’s flag raised and the goal chalked off.

Guiseley attempted in vain to force a way back into the game. A stretching pass from Meppen-Walters found Scott Bakkor. The substitute shrugged off a defender but was denied once again by Scott in the Robins goal.

The Lions didn’t waver and continued to press. Smales-Braithwaite made space for himself. He raced away from his marker and fired straight at Scott. The rebound fell to Ible at the back post who, from an impossible angle, could only hit the side netting.

The afternoon went from bad to worse for the Lions when, with five minutes to go, a foul from Smales-Braithwaite brought down Cole Lonsdale on the halfway line to prevent a dangerous counterattack. Referee Alan Bennett added another plot twist by controversially sending the Barrow loanee off, providing more drama in an otherwise slow game.

It was another frustrating day for the Lions as they slipped into mid table following a recent dip in form. Phillips understood the fans disappointment following another difficult afternoon.

“It’s deflating at the moment as we’re not going to finish any higher, any lower and we’re asking lads to give heart and soul, it’s all part of a building process.”

Reflecting on the remaining games to come Phillips concluded, “ I want to win, I want to finish this season as high as possible and I want to see the players show a bit of pride. They are playing for a big football club, with a proud history. It’s down to me to ensure that they go out there and show what it means to play for this club.”

Ashton United 2-0 Guiseley | Saturday 1st April 2023 | Hurst Cross

Attendance: 329

Team: 1. Morgan Bacon, 2. Leigh Whelan, 3. Kwame Boateng, 4. Ross Daly, 5. Jameel Ible, 6. Harrison Nejman (76′ Hey), 7. Benni Smales-Braithwaite, 8. Callum Chippendale (66′ Bakkor), 9. Jake Cassidy, 10. Kallan Murphy (58′ Kachosa) and 11. Courtney Meppen-Walters (C).

Subs: 12. Ethan Kachosa, 14. Scott Bakkor, 15. Mark Lees, 16. Lewis Hey and 17. Ben Woods.

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