Goals from Jurgen Charlesworth and Joe Meakin couldn’t prevent Gedling Miners Welfare starting the New Year with a defeat after going down 4-2 against Ashby Ivanhoe at the NFU Sports Ground on Saturday afternoon in the East Midlands Counties League.
A double from talisman Kerr Horn was matched by efforts from Mitch Woodbine and Angus Blair-Park to ensure The Knights began 2019 with 3 points.
The game began tentatively with neither side posing any noteworthy opportunities in the opening exchanges. Gedling had the best opportunity after 12 minutes but after Courtney Hastings did well to create some space following some clever trickery to deceive Jake Conkay, the striker’s effort was tame and was easy for home ‘keeper Ben Hamerton.
Following a cagey start, the visitors underwent a positive spell and looked more promising going forward. Luke Smith’s deep cross in the 16th minute nearly found Felix Hogg, loitering at the back post following an earlier foray forward, but a hesitant punch away from Hamerton relieved any further pressure. A minute later and Miners may have taken the lead but after George Wesley misjudged Jack Jepson’s excellently chipped cross, Hastings’ unmarked header into the ground lacked any power and was caught by a busy Hamerton.
The home side continued to offer little going forward and often relied on the counter attack to worry a Gedling side that had enjoyed the early exchanges. However, mid-way through the first half and, in fairly contentious circumstances, they took the lead.
After a harmless punt forward was comfortably collected by Dan Cockayne, referee Tom Burt had adjudged the away custodian had collected outside of his area and duly booked the number 1 for the misdemeanour. From the resulting Sam Carline free kick, Kerr Horn collected Conkay’s header back across goal and thumped Ashby into the lead after turning smartly in a congested penalty area. Gedling’s protest falling on deaf ears as the man in the middle deemed the ball was outside the area as Cokayne collected.
3 minutes later and their counter attacking approach nearly proved troublesome after Horn had beaten the offside trap down the right, his drilled cross could only be met by the onrushing Harry Stewart who fired over from an angle.
Ashby looked good for their lead and began to team their swift movement forward with a combative approach headed by Carline and the impressive Joel Earps in the centre of the park. Shortly after the half hour, however, and after Jepson and Hasting’s had combined once again, the latter’s effort flashed just wide.
4 minutes later and Hogg speculatively tried his luck from all of 40 yards but, after he spotted Hamerton off his line, couldn’t direct the effort from distance and the ball sailed wide as the visitors looked for a quick response to going behind. However, their efforts were in vain as 6 minutes from the break, the home side doubled their advantage.
After referee Burt had played an advantage following an earlier challenge, Mitch Woodbine found time and space on the edge of the area and after feigning to create an opening, smashed the ball past the rooted Cockayne into the top corner for his 4th of the campaign and give Ashby a commanding lead heading toward the break.
Gedling continued to push forward looking to get back into the game and looked to prevent the hosts adding to their tally. They displayed some superb interplay at times and their performance to this stage warranted a goal and 2 minutes before half time, they did manage to reduce the arrears.
After encouraging link up play down the right between himself, Jepson and Jack Millward, Hasting’s dangerously floated cross was half cleared to the edge of the area and Jurgen Charlesworth was on hand to slam the ball past a wrong-footed Hamerton to give Gedling a deserved way back into the affair.
2 minutes before the break and they may have gone in all square but after Jepson found himself behind a static Ashby defence, his deft lob over Hamerton was diverted around for a corner via a marginal fingertip as the ‘keeper questioned the whereabouts of his colleagues.
Substitute Joe Meakin may, and probably should, have had Gedling back on level terms 4 minutes after the restart but after finding fortune following a defensive ricochet, Hamerton spread himself well and thwarted the danger with an outstretched leg.
Much like the first, the away side, buoyed by their goal shortly before the interval, looked the better team in the opening minutes of the second half. Meakin again, often the orchestrator for his side, took aim but his shot 2 minutes after his earlier effort comfortably sailed over Hamerton’s goal.
Despite their encouraging start to the second period, Gedling couldn’t make their possession count and their earlier opportunities went begging as the home side looked otherwise comfortable with what was thrown at them. After soaking up mounting pressure for most of the second period, at the other end and fully utilising their dangerous attacking trio, they restored their 2 goal deficit.
Advancing forward with poise and intent, Horn’s astute pass into the path of Angus Blair-Park was perfectly weighted and the striker’s effort, whilst matched by a strong arm of Cockayne, carried enough power to trickle over the line, and despite the retreating efforts of Smith, the assistant referee on the far side James Springthorpe affirmed the ball had crossed fully into the goal as Blair-Park and Ashby celebrated regaining their cushion.
In a comfortable position, Ashby didn’t seem content with their lead and continued to pour forward looking to add gloss to what would be their 2nd win in 3 outings. 5 minutes after Blair-Park’s strike and it got even better for the home side when they added a fourth.
This time it was Horn who cutely broke the offside trap and after Earp’s pass had found the talisman with space down the right, his powerful shot flew past Cokayne and into the far corner to give the home side a commanding lead with still half an hour left on the clock. Horn notching his 15th of the season as Ashby looked to close the gap on Kimberley Miners Welfare above them.
To their credit, Gedling, typifying their character, continued to look for a way back into the game and were impressive in stages. Shortly after the hour, Meakin, after being found by Charlesworth, struck a venomous effort bound for the top corner but Hamerton did superbly to tip over for a corner and preserve his side’s lead.
The home side ceased any further attacking threat and were happy to deal with any expected barrage as Gedling looked for a deserved way back into the game. However, 17 minutes from time and they could do very little to prevent Miners’ second of the afternoon.
After Jepson was felled on the edge of the area by Conkay, Meakin’s set piece was effortless and the ball floated into the bottom corner as Hamerton could only scramble in vain to prevent the shot creeping into the net.
Now with incentive, Gedling looked to make the last 10 minutes for the home side very nervy as they sought an unlikely comeback. With 81 minutes played, Charlesworth’s pinpoint cross was just out of reach of the left alone Hastings who couldn’t quite get over his header at the back post. Not long after and after Hasting’s corner was half-cleared, Jimmy Spiers’ effort from 20 yards was rash and failed to trouble the home goal.
With men pushed forward, Miners were always susceptible to the counter attack – a ploy Ashby had committed to all afternoon – and 4 minutes from time, they had the chance to seal the 3 points when, following a turnover in possession, substitute Matt Fowler hauled down Alex Ford in the area and Mr. Burt, via an input from Springthorpe, pointed to the spot.
Horn stepped up looking for his hat trick but despite sending Cockayne the wrong way, his effort smashed off the crossbar and away to safety. From the rebound, Gedling countered and another delightful cross from Charlesworth found Jepson but his looping header was tipped around by Hamerton as the referee drew a close to proceedings to give Ashby their ninth win of the season.
A tough afternoon for a dogged Gedling side who are still lingering at the foot of the East Midlands Counties League table. They welcome Heanor Town to Plains Road next Saturday (12th January) in the league hoping to pull away from danger with a much needed win, kick off 3pm.