REPORT: Crisis averted as County ease past Ashton

County put the opening-day Spennymoor defeat to rest last night, as they breezed past Curzon Ashton in front of 3,000 supporters at Edgeley Park.

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The win was a much-needed tonic for Hatters players and supporters alike, who had not suffered an opening day defeat in the league since Ian Bogie’s side lost 4-1 to Boston in 2013.

Manager Jim Gannon made two changes to the Spennymoor defeat, with Connor Hampson and Chris Smalley coming in for Scott Duxbury and Stephen O’Halloran, as County continued with five at the back.

The system almost brought an immediate goal, within a minute, wing-back Sam Minihan had linked up with Darren Stephenson, whose shot was blocked by Cameron Mason in the Ashton goal.

Despite this early opportunity, Curzon came into the game and looked slightly the more likely to score, Max Leonard coming close after a mistake from Michael Clarke at the back as the away side showed a confidence that stemmed from their 4-0 victory at the weekend.

But on 21 minutes, County had the lead. Oswell’s cross was met by Harry Winter, who swivelled in the box before hitting a left-footed shot into the net, via the post.

County were growing into the game, the confidence of the goal clear to see as the tension in the crowd evaporated. But the rest of the half passed without major incident, both sides snatching at half-chances before the referee blew for the break.

HT: County 1-0 Curzon Ashton

The Hatters, attacking The Cheadle End in the second half, were unchanged and extended their lead just three minutes after the restart in emphatic fashion.

Some good footwork by Stephenson won a free-kick 25-yards out from, before former ‘Nash’ player Matty Warburton stepped up to curled the ball into the top corner, what a way to score your first competitive County goal.

County were cruising now and a third goal followed shortly after, a miss-hit clearance by Curzon defender Steven Howson eventually found its way to Jason Oswell, who poked the ball under ‘keeper Mason to give County an unassailable three goal lead.

Ashton did look to get back in the game as County took their foot off the gas in the closing stages, and had very good chances courtesy of Scott Bakkor, Chris Rowney and James Baillie, the latter having a goal-bound free-kick saved brilliantly by Ben Hinchliffe.

Oswell thought he’d scored his second of the night minutes from the end, but the former Newtown striker was stood two yards offside after the ball was unexpectedly deflected towards him. 3-0 it finished, to put County fifth in the table after two games!

FT: County 3-0 Curzon Ashton

Scorers: Winter (21), Warburton (48), Oswell (55).

Team: Hinchliffe, Cowan, Hampson, Winter, Clarke, Smalley, Minihan, Ball, Oswell (West, 86), Warburton (McKenna, 86), Stephenson (Walker, 76).

Unused subs: Ormson, Duxbury

Att: 3,002

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