Ashton United found their squad stretched to the bare bones for a re-arranged Evo-Stik Northern Premier League….
…Premier Division clash at Blyth Spartans on Tuesday night.
With Matty O’Neill and Ben Deegan on the long-term sick list, Jamie Baguley, Thomas Moore and Dennis Sherriff all unable to travel and Mark Peers having departed for Australia, manager Danny Johnson was forced to shuffle his pack for the longest away trip of the club’s season.
Matty Kosylo and Craig Robinson travelled with the squad but neither was fit enough to play so coach Billy McCartney, who last appeared for Ashton in 2008, played almost a full 90 minutes at centre half – two months short of his 37th birthday.
The Ashton bench consisted of skipper Chris Lynch, who was nursing a hamstring injury and Ben Smith, who had been limited to three substitute appearances all season plus two teenagers signed on the morning of the game, Kyle Riley and Aleem Salim – assistant-manager Craig Robinson was also listed but never likely to appear.
Johnson’s woes increased when Lynch was forced into action after Ashton left-back Danny Caldecott suffered what looked like a serious thigh injury part-way through the first half.
Salim, signed from Bury Juniors, wasn’t required on the night, although Ashton-born striker Riley, a former Burnley and Oldham Athletic youth player, did get the nod for the last half hour – it was the youngster’s first competitive game in the UK since returning from playing for CF Federico Mayo in the Andalucia region of Spain last year.