Review of the Season 2019/20
August – Hopes were high back at NPL level despite the previous season’s relegation but the opening game was something of a disappointment twice losing the lead to eventually draw 2-2 with Atherton Collieries managed by our future boss Michael Clegg. A midweek trip to hot favourites South Shields followed which resulted in a 3-0 reverse on a very slick pitch and this was followed by a demoralising 3-2 defeat at Bamber Bridge where defeat was snatched late from the jaws of victory. After the usual recent pattern of defeat to local rivals Stalybridge continued the Robins gave a better account of themselves with a deserved 1-1 draw with top of the table Matlock.
Sept – opened with our first league win away at Mickleover despite Josh Wilson’s dismissal but a home defeat to Whitby followed before a 6 goal thriller saw the points shared on Hyde’s plastic pitch. In the FA Cup we had our first sight of the lithesome John Lufudu playing for Tadcaster as Ashton got a rather fortunate 2-2 draw courtesy of Luca Havern at one end and Jon Worsnop at the other before comfortably winning the replay 4-1 despite conceding first. Further progress was made as the Robins won a tight game 1-0 at home to Pontefract.
Oct – A spectacular 4-0 win at Grantham put Ashton in good heart for the FA Cup tie v Spennymoor but despite playing well up front including a spectacular goal by Casian Anghel the high line played by the defence saw the higher level visitors run in 6 goals which could have been more. Droylsden then knocked us out of the meaningless Manchester Premier Cup and a resounding 3-0 defeat at Lancaster set alarm bells ringing as to manager Jody Banim’s future. These weren’t helped by a last minute defeat to Witton but the month ended with a home win against Gainsborough and a fine FA Trophy victory at Warrington courtesy of Sam Sheridan’s spectacular strike.
Nov – Another win on the plastic this time at Buxton was followed by FA Trophy defeat at Matlock where the town had been under water 24 hours earlier amidst some outrageous time wasting by the home keeper. Next we exited the final cup competition the Integro at the hands of Stalybridge and 2 home defeats followed against Nantwich and Radcliffe who both ran riot without us registering a goal.
Dec – Jody’s inevitable departure had left Michael Clegg in charge for the first time as we went down 3-2 at Basford with the winning goal appearing to follow a clear foul and the only other fixture this month brought the many followers of FC United to Hurst Cross where an entertaining encounter just went the way of the high flying visitors with an injury time winner.
Jan – the New Year opened with a hard-fought draw at Stalybridge which was followed by a home defeat to the erstwhile champions South Shields. A vital home win against bottom side Stafford was a morale boost for the new manager and a spectacular win at Morpeth was next, the hosts’ first home defeat of the season. A point resulted from the visit to newly-managerless Radcliffe but proof of the Robins’ improvement was evident as they defeated Lancaster by a single goal.
Feb – Ashton’s fourth visit of the season to a plastic pitch this time at Scarborough and on a windy day to boot. The result swung in the hosts’s favour as Liam Tomsett saw red controversially with the appeals panel declining to reverse the decision. A comfortable home win against Witton preceded a trip to Whitby where the pitch was pretty much the winner with the visitors grabbing a deserved late equaliser through the impressive Billy Sass-Davies.
Mar – A tight midweek encounter with Warrington finished in a fair draw and then proof if ever it were needed that a plastic pitch is an advantage to the home side as Scarborough suffered their umpteenth defeat on the road at Hurst Cross having only lost once at home. For the final fixture home to Mickleover I have to defer to my colleagues in the media team as I was doing my best to avoid catching Corona virus in Cheltenham – what I can tell you is that only South Shields and Scarborough were good enough to beat us in 2020.
Conclusion: Certainly a season of ups and downs but many positives to take forward to the new season when we all hope things will be back to normal from the current world madness.