Minimal changes in truth for the Holy Blues, looking to extend their run of positive league form, since the arrival of Russ Wilcox at DN21. Youngster Reuben Brewin-Hawkins again involved in the matchday sixteen, whilst young goalkeeper Ethan Cowan was once again with the team before the game.
An intimidating, pressing force startled the third placed visitors early in the game, Bailey Conway intercepted a weak pass in the midfield, finding Lewis Butroid, his pass to Southwell lead to a shot being put just wide of the post, challenging Luke Simpson. Just two minutes later, the demanding press of Gainsborough lead to a powerful, low hit volley being deflected wide and out for a corner.
The Holy Blues had thought they had found an opening as Cogill and Johnson had close range efforts blocked inside the box and saved brilliantly by Simpson to keep the score at 0-0. Javelle Clarke saw his threat extinguished after Southwell did brilliantly to find the diminuitive forward inside the box, before Ashton struggled to deal with a left wing corner, Mitchell Rose heading back towards his own goal, fortunate to see a red shirt back on the line to cover. Butroid unable to find the target from an acute angle.
Ashton began to find their feet 20 minutes into the game, a notable performance from Marcus Cusani who persistently created chances down the right-hand side. Ex-Trinity attacker, Alex Byrne, twice tested Luke Jackson in the home goal as his shot dipped down onto the keepers’ fingertips.
Clarke’s Man of the Match performance was notably shown from his high presses throughout the game and creating multiple chances from start to finish. His first significant chance created was through a press to win the ball off Rose, his outside of the boot pass found Declan Howe who’s shot was parried by Luke Simpson. The follow up chance for Southwell just coming too quickly to the experienced front man & his effort was comfortably gathered by Simpson.
The first goal came only three minutes later, a brilliant build from the Gainsborough attack led to a thumping finish from the Bawtry based baller: Bobby Johnson, to put the Holy Blues ahead in the first half. Dayle Southwell combined with Dec Howe on the edge of the box, with the on-fire Trinity forward squaring neatly for Johnson to crash home an unstoppable effort from the edge of the box.
The lead was quickly cancelled out through a 35-yard effort from Rose which glimpsed past Luke Jackson. And out of nothing, the visitors were back on level terms. Trinity looked to get back on the front foot, but were indebted to ‘keeper Jackson as he reacted quickly to a cross deflected towards his own goal, by the retreating Butroid. Andreas Dianga’s looping header from resultant corner – straight at Luke Jackson.
As the half drew to a close, Dec Howe got in behind, looking to profit from a neat Johnson-Southwell one-two, but as time ticked towards the half time interval, Howe could only drag his effort wide of the far post. Bringing an entertaining half to a close.
Half Time: Gainsborough Trinity 1 Ashton United 1
The press from both sides continued into the second half, as Referee Mr Tyers waved away Gainsborough appeals for a penalty when Ash Jackson was sent tumbling, minutes into the second period. The first significant chance of the second half came as Howe bore down the left hand side, cutting inside, he saw his first effort blocked. With the ball looping up, the marksman couldn’t guide his header on target, with Simpson retreating.
Clarke was everywhere, busy buzzing back to win the ball back. He released the ever-willing Southwell, who drove Trinity forward. Forced wide, Southwell did well to dig out a deep cross to the back post, that Baird did well to divert away from Clarke arriving at the back stick.
The two Ashton substitutes, Keilen Adams and George Milner were soon involved in the action, with the latter letting fly from twenty yards – only to see his effort arch away from Jackson’s goal.
Howe continued to occupy the visiting defence, unselfishly squaring for his strike partner. Southwell seeing two close range shots saved by Simpson – the second with his back as he made himself big. Trinity did restore the lead shortly after though. Declan Howe put the Blues ahead after a beautifully timed through ball, threaded through the eye of a needle, from George Hornshaw found the feet of Howe and his composed one on one with Simpson was finished with a delicate chip to lift the ball over the advancing ‘keeper. In truth it was a very neat build up, with Southwell dropping short and linking the play, with Howe stretching the visitors in behind. And Howe had the composure to continue his fine run of scoring form, making it five goals in six games since his switch from league rivals Ilkeston Town.
Ashton levelled through a Jason Gilchrist header in the 78th minute, Byrne’s cross was met by the head of Gilchrist to sink the home sides hope of a big three points that would have boosted them into the top half of the table, but the Blues would rally & again go in search of another goal to get their noses back in front – although it wasn’t to be on this occasion.
Trinity upped the tempo, Hamish Douglas’ centre was just too high for Howe, but Conway retrieved the ball, forcing a spectacular save from Simpson when he cut in from the left, his curling right footed effort bringing out the best in Simpson to ensure the visitors would leave the Kal Group Stadium with a point. In stoppage time, Howe set solitary Gainsborough substitute Wallace to cross, his delivery from wide found Southwell with his back to go. But despite his best efforts, he was unable to contort his body enough to work his swivelled volley on target.
Trinity performed well tonight but would be gutted to only get a draw out of the game, yet as things continue to really improve since the Wilcox takeover at the Northolme, the unbeaten run extends to four games, with the trip to Whitby Town, next. On Saturday, the Blues will be looking to make it five unbeaten & maintain the upward trajectory – with plenty of smiles on faces!
Luke Jackson, George Hornshaw (Nat Wallace 82) Ashley Jackson, Bailey Conway, Hamish Douglas, Dylan Cogill, Lewis Butroid, Bobby Johnson, Dayle Southwell, Declan Howe, Javelle Clarke
Subs not used: Joel Holvey, Harrison Pouler, Reuben Brewin-Hawkins & Jack Moore-Billam
Gainsborough goals: Bobby Johnson 34, Declan Howe 68
Gainsborough booking: Declan Howe
Luke Simpson, Dan Cowan, Sean Newton (George Milner 54) Bernardo Couto, Luke Burke, Sam Baird, Alex Byrne, Mitchell Rose, Jason Gilchrist, Marcus Cusani, Andreas Bianga (Keilen Adams 54)
Subs not used: Cole Lonsdale, Joe Robbins & Chris Dawson
Ashton goals: Mitchell Rose 40, Jason Gilchrist 78
Ashton booking: Alex Byrne
Referee: Matthew Tyers