The Ants slipped to their 2nd consecutive league defeat as Ashfield took all three points at the Peugeot Ashfield Stadium last night. The players were looking to bounce back following the opening day defeat to Lesmahagow and they got off to a dream start, a Mark McIlvanney cross into the box was headed goalwards by the returning Chris Gordon and Mullen made a great save with his feet but JOHN BALL was on hand to lash the rebound into the net after only six minutes.
Former Ants man Billy Stevenson then had a great chance to equalise when he got on the end of a Lynch cross but McCallum was out quickly to narrow the angle and the big striker couldn’t hit the target. The Ants had a great chance to double their lead in the 14th minute when McIlvanney jumped highest in the box from a corner but the midfielder’s header went inches wide. Ashfield were direct in their approach and it was proving to be effective as Stevenson’s height was causing the Ants rearguard some problems and in the 24th minute proved too much for them to deal with as the big man flicked on a Mullen free kick into the path of GRAEME HEARTON who lashed the ball past McCallum to level the scores at 1-1.
Five minutes later the Ants almost regained the lead, a lovely move involving Bain, Mark McIlvanney, and Chris Gordon saw the latter try and catch the Ashfield keeper out but his chip was tipped over the bar by the giant keeper. It was the Ants keeper who was next to be tested when Lynch’s header found Stevenson who volleyed goalwards forcing McCallum to produce a great diving save to keep the scores level then from the resultant corner Stevenson saw his effort cleared off the line by Gamba. Not to be outdone, Mullen in the Ashfield goal produced a similarly good save to deny Ants captain Conway who had struck from just outside the box but there was to be no further scoring before the break and they went in tied at 1-1 at half time.
Stevenson was still proving to be a thorn in the Ants side in the second half and he must have been wondering what he had to do to get on the scoresheet when he just failed to connect properly to a Hadden cross at the back post in the 52nd minute. Both teams were pressing for the next goal and the Ants thought they had it when McIlvanney found Ball but his shot went just wide. In the 55th minute Ashfield got the goal that would prove to be the winner. McCallum’s goal kick was aimed towards McIlvanney who’s jump was impeded by Friel, the ball broke to Gordon, who also appeared to be tripped by Friel but the Ref saw nothing wrong with either challenge and the ball was boomed forward to Parker, his pin point cross found GRAEME HEARTON who headed in from 2 yards out to put the home side a goal infront at 2-1.
Parker then came close with direct from a corner which appeared to be taken well outside the D but McCallum got an hand to it. Lynch then went close again as Ashfield started to turn the screw a bit although the Ants did go close from a Gordon free kick which had Mullen scrambling, Parker then went close and Hearton was stopped in his tracks with a great tackle on the edge of the box as he raced in on goal for his hat-trick. The Ants then had a claim for a penalty waived away when Mullen came charging out and went in for a 50-50 with John Ball, neither player touched the ball and it appeared the keeper had caught the Ants striker but the ref saw it the other way and gave a free kick to the home side. Stevenson still continued to torment his former club and almost set Hearton up for his third of the game but McCallum produced a great save diving bravely and spreading himself to deny the striker. The ref played seven minutes of injury time where the Ants pressed for the equaliser but to no avail and Ashfield ran out 2-1 winners.
Ants Website Man of the Match –