Max Harrop free-kick against Ashton United

Max Harrop’s stunning free-kick was little consolation for Nantwich Town who slipped to a 3-1 home defeat against Ashton United, writes Richard Scott.

And for boss Danny Johnson, watching another lacklustre defensive display will be more worrying than being beaten by his former side.

Nantwich were able to welcome back Adam Jones to the starting 11, who missed the cup win at Stalybridge due to an injury. New boy Matt Koslyo was on the bench.

And Ashton took the lead inside five minutes with the first shot of the match, when a misplaced pass from Shaun Dowling found Matty Chadwick and he put his shot past Stevenson and into the corner.

A minute later Martin Pilkington got through and only a good save from Stevenson stopped the Robins extending their lead.

On 10 minutes, Aaron Burns had Nantwich’s first effort but his shot was tame and it was a comfortable save for Ashton player-manager Paul Phillips.

Mark Winslade brought the ball down inside the area in the 25th minute and lashed it towards goal but it went wide.

Max Harrop against Ashton UnitedBut the Dabbers where level two minutes later, when a free kick from Harrop (pictured, right) from 30 yards was struck to perfection and it flew into the top corner.

Nantwich then committed the cardinal sin of throwing away a goal just moments later. A cross from Pilkington in the next attack found Chadwick at the back post to turn home, despite claims of offside.

Nantwich were then hit with another injury as Mark Jones had to come off and was replace by Kyle Blake. Jones could be ruled out for up to six weeks.

Soon after Blake could have levelled for the hosts but his effort from White’s pass went astray.

The Dabbers could have been level a minute after the restart when a Harrop free kick found Mat Bailey, but his header went inches past Phillips’ goal.

And they were made to pay when Ashton went 3-1 ahead on 56 minutes. Rick Lee ran through a static backline and beat Stevenson.

Nantwich brought on Matt Kosylo for his debut, while Ashton withdrew double goal scorer Chadwick and their provider Pilkington.

It should have been four for Ashton when sub Phil Marsh broke through and squared to Lee, but he hit the bar from eight yards.

Stevenson had to make another fine save to stop Richard Bennett getting through after Adam Jones misjudged a header.

Lee would be wondering how he hadn’t added to his tally as he had another chance when he hit a shot from outside the area, which hit the post.

Nantwich could have had a penalty on 78 minutes, when Howard was brought down inside the area but the ball landed to an on-rushing Burns, whose shot was straight at Phillips.

Bailey had a late chance for the hosts but his header from a corner went over the bar.

And Adam Jones was denied at the death when his half volley was saved by Phillips’ knees.

The disappointing defeat saw Ashton leap-frog Nantwich in the Evo-Stik Premier League, the Dabbers now down to 16th place.

Nantwich will be looking to get back to winning ways as they visit Grantham Town on Tuesday (October 21), kick off 7:45pm

Nantwich Town: Stevenson, Dowling, White, M.Jones (C), A.Jones, Bailey, Winslade, Pepper, Burns, Harrop and Howard.
Subs: Blake (On for M.Jones, 30 minutes), Clayton, Sheehan (on for Pepper, 46 minutes), Meaney and Kosylo (on for Winslade, 62 minutes)

(Pics courtesy of Simon J Newbury Photography)

Nantwich Town celebrate Max Harrop's free-kick against Ashton United

Ashton United open scoring against Nantwich Town

Ashton United score a third against Nantwich Town

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