Vodkat Premier Division
Ashton Athletic 0, New Mills 2
It certainly wasn’t the prettiest three points of the season for New Mills, but an effective and hard working team performance ultimately secured a deserved victory over Ashton Athletic on Saturday.
Playing for the first time in three weeks, the Millers gave a debut to goalkeeper Ben Procter who joined from Rossendale United earlier in the week. The tall stopper’s first contribution to the game was a hesitant one as his clearing kick was charged down at the expense of a corner kick which was easily cleared.
The Millers controlled possession well despite the heavy conditions underfoot. Kingsley Grandison, making his full debut, looked lively down the right hand side and had a decent opportunity to test Faral Jackson in the Ashton goal but dwelt on the ball for a split second too long.
Moments later, Kingsley’s brother Leon fared better and from an acute angle stung Jackson’s palms, who pushed the powerful effort away for a corner.
The Millers deservedly took the lead in the 25th minute when Ashton midfielder Dave Berry crucially lost possession midway in his own half. Steve Moore was left with a free run on goal and clinically capitalised on the slip as he slotted the resulting shot past the exposed Jackson.
Despite the majority of play in the Ashton half, the packed home defensive ranks made chances few and far between for the visitors and even when skipper Syd Pickford’s shot beat the goalkeeper following a corner, there was sufficient cover on the goal-line to clear the danger.
Andrew Gillespie had a rare opportunity for the home side on the stroke of half time but Procter was out quickly and smartly to smother the danger.
The start of the second half saw a succession of corner kicks for the home side cleared away by the Millers.
As the half progressed, the visitors’ defence showed their strength as they dealt very capably with most things thrown at them by the home attack.
Just short of the hour, Carlos Meakin twice went close to doubling the advantage.
Firstly, Syd Pickford’s quick free kick caught the home team napping but keeper Faral Jackson was alert enough to push Meakin’s shot away for a corner.
The resulting set piece found the Millers’ leading scorer with time and space around the penalty spot but, with his back to the goal, his acrobatic hooked shot went over the crossbar.
Ashton’s only real significant chance of the second half came in the 68th minute when substitute Jamal John escaped the clutches of New Mills’ defence but once again Procter was on hand to deny the attack with smart and agile goalkeeping at the edge of his 18-yard area.
Despite their limited attacking prowess, the home defence were standing firm and were proving a fairly tough nut to crack.
No more so than when Jackson was on hand to deny Leon Grandison with a low save and then shortly after his punch took the ball right off Meakin’s forehead following Adam Mather’s deep centre.
The Millers were not to be denied though as they wrapped up the victory with four minutes of the game remaining, a goal which also saw the club pass 500 Vodkat League points. The architect was Leon Grandison, who despite having a quiet afternoon by his own high standards, finally escaped his marker.
The striker powered his way to the by-line and then delivered the perfect cut back to Meakin who found the net from close range to register his 23rd goal of the season.
New Mills: Procter, Bowler, Mather, Innes, Coyne, K Grandison (Carey), Meakin, Pickford, L Grandison, Moore (Douglas-Prongle), Horrocks (Monaghan). Unused subs: Hirst, Barras.