A CONTROVERSIAL red card and penalty for the second successive away game proved costly as Warrington Town were beaten 2-1 at Ashton United on Boxing Day.
As was the case at Hednesford a fortnight prior, the Yellows were more than a match for their opponents even with a man disadvantaged, and they came close to snatching an unlikely point at the end.
It was James McCarten’s first half foul on Ryan Crowther when the striker was through on goal in the penalty area that proved the telling moment of the game, despite McCarten’s insistence he got a toe on the ball.
Matthew Chadwick stepped up and converted the subsequent spotkick, and a second half header from Crowter was enough to secure the points for the home side, even though Dylan Vassallo’s late strike gave Town hope.
The absent Eddie Toner forced a late reshuffle in the Town line-up, with Gerard Kinsella putting his hand up to play despite suffering from a chronic chest infection, that ultimately forced his exit from the game on the stroke of half time.
Assistant manager Craig Robinson took up a place on the bench, with no place for new signing Evan Gumbs following the unexpected approval of his registration for a loan move from Tranmere Rovers arriving on the morning of the game.
There wasn’t much in the way of clear cut chances in the opening quarter, Chadwick firing over on the turn for Ashton, while Lewis Codling hit one wide for the Yellows.
It was the visitors who had the better of the play though, and they forced several corners that came to nothing.
On 27 minutes, Ashton won a free-kick in the centre circle and it was taken quickly, releasing Crowther through the middle. McCarten tracked back and made a committed challenge that the assistant referee on the far side deemed was a foul and awarded a penalty.
Following a brief discussion between the assistant and the referee, McCarten was given his marching orders, and Chadwick sent Tony McMillan, who had largely been a spectator for the rest of the first half, the wrong way from the spot.
That prompted a re-shuffle, with Robinson entering the fray in place of Codling to restore a back four for the visitors.
More corners were forced, and Scott Harries’ in-swinger was diverted goal wards by John Shaw, only to be cleared off the line.
A late first half change saw former Ashton striker Ben Deegan make his return to action following a long lay-off with a broken jaw, suffered in the away defeat to Mickleover earlier in the season, in place of the struggling Kinsella.
Despite the numerical disadvantage, Warrington would have gone in to half time with hope that they could turn things around.
Ashton started the second half strongly, looking to get what it felt would be a decisive second goal.
And it came 10 minutes after the break, the Yellows getting caught playing it out from the back on the left hand side, and with the winger in behind Rory McKeown, his deep cross was headed home from point blank range by Crowther.
McMillan had barely had anything to do, other than pick the ball out of his net twice, though he was alert to a header from Chadwick on the hour mark that would have definitely sealed the points for Ashton.
The Yellows continued to impose themselves going forward, Deegan unfortunate to be penalised when chasing a loose ball at the back, and on 72 minutes, the excellent Harries rattled a post.
A goal did eventually come, with nine minutes to play, when nippy substitute Vassallo got in between defender and goalkeeper, poked the ball around them and finished in to the empty net from a tight angle.
It was to prove just consolation though, as Ashton closed out the game.
Warrington will be looking to get back to winning ways with back-to-back home matches against Spennymoor (Thurs, 7.45pm) and Marine (Mon, 3pm).
Ashton: McIlwaine, Smalley, Maiese, Connor, Shaw, Lees, Smith, Roberts (Mason), Crowther, Gorman (Knight), Chadwick. Unused subs: Lowe, Baguley, Lofthouse.
Warrington: McMillan, Carden, McKeown (Vassallo), Ventre, Shaw, McCarten, Codling (Robinson), Kinsella (Deegan), Kilheeney, Harries, Metcalfe. Unused subs: Hattersley, Gillespie.