A Look at Tomorrow Evenings Opponents Ashton United by Ian Watts

After a testing work-out against EFL Championship side Preston North End, where the team certainly did themselves justice despite the defeat, County move on to face regular friends of the Hatters away from Edgeley Park.

Hosts Ashton United frequently met County in mid-season Friendly matches a few years ago when the club had no reserve team games but needed match practice for their squad players.

Last season Ashton used several ex-Hatters, including Adam Griffin and Tunji Moses. 
Ex Hatter Tunji Moses

Those two appear to have moved on, but there are a couple of former EP men still in the Robin's ranks and they have been joined by some new signings. As can be seen from the line-up for their last pre-season game a week ago, only two of those men were in action.

Max Poney, Dominic Smalley, Cavel Coo, Tom Eckersley, Aaron Chalmers, Liam Tomsett, Charlie Duke, Rick Smith, Yaw Gyimah, Josh Stachini, Ryan Crowther (Jody Banim)

Manager Jody Banim, who came on for former County man Crowther when he was carried off with a nasty knee-injury, has looked to build a squad to create a fast free flowing team that can be in the hunt for the play-offs. In last week's match at Radcliffe Borough Crowther had got Ashton's equaliser from the penalty spot a few minutes before the injury struck, in a game that ended in a 1-1 draw.

Amongst the men absent from the game was last season's top scorer Matt Chadwick who struck 23 goals as a winger or secondary striker. That tally came in a disappointing season for the Hurst Cross side who had been challenging for promotion in recent years but were lower down the table in 2016-17.
Matt Chadwick
As for those ex-Hatters, Ashton report signing on as new or continuing players the following:

Ryan Crowther (SCAN 1198) is a 28-year-old Reddish man who started with County at a young age and progressed sufficiently to earn a trial at Liverpool 10 years ago. That trial came 14 months after making his County debut in January 2006 against Cheltenham Town. Liverpool signed him later that summer and Ryan had two years at Anfield without making a senior first team appearance.

Ryan Crowther

 After his release trials at several clubs, including County followed. Spells at Stalybridge and Hyde saw him return to League football with a move to Fleetwood Town, making his debut for them in the Conference National against the Hatters, before the Lancashire side went on to promotion, Since then the attacking midfielder has featured for Hyde United, FC Halifax Town and Altrincham, and is in his second season with Ashton.

Central defender Tom Eckersley (SCAN 1338) came to County from Accrington Stanley on loan in October 2012. His debut came as a sub during a 2-1 win at Hereford United. He was to make only one more Conference appearance, also as a sub - leaving him with the rare distinction that relegation season of an unbeaten record as that game was drawn 3-3. He did play in a few Manchester/Cheshire Cup games before returning to Stanley. Since his time at County Tom has been with AFC Fylde, Witton Albion, Curzon Ashton, Glossop North End and FC United of Manchester, but joins Ashton having been out of football for most of last season.

Midfielder Alex Johnson Came through Myerscough College and played for the Hatters youth team without breaking into the first team.

Tom Eckersley

 After leaving he was in the lower levels of the non-league pyramid before joining Halifax in Conference North five years ago. He stayed at that level with Guiseley and stalybridge before dropping down to play for Northwich and Tuesday's opponents.

Mark Lees time at EP came at the current level, signing from Stalybridge Celtic in November of 2013, having previously played for most of the senior non-league sides from Tameside and Trafford. It was not the first time that Mark had worn a County shirt, as he had a trial four years earlier. He played over 70 times for County before becoming one of the many men Neil Young made clear he would not be needing, at which time Mark switched to Telford, before re-joining his home town club Ashton United.
Mark Lees in his County days !

Your guess is as good as mine as to how many of the above will face County. It will be interesting to see if the men who have generally been on the subs bench for the Hatter's last couple of games will get a chance to start this game. I believe that Alan Lord's youngsters are also in action on Tuesday night with a game at Knutsford FC. I have been unable to track down any more details but assuming this game is going ahead, if you are in the area you could drift to their ground for some entertainment.

 I know Alan Lord is always appreciative of those who turn out to positively encourage his charges.

Ian Watts


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