Match Report: Steeton 1-3 Longridge Town
Basterfield scores a brace as Town win on the road.
If ever there was to be test of the depth of Towns squad, then this was it.
With six players missing through injury or suspension, and a trip to Steeton who were unbeaten at their Cougar Park ground, Ashey shuffled the pack pushing Gary Basterfield wide left, and Brad Wicks starting in centre midfield with the returning Ben Ashcroft playing on the left of a back three.
Paul Turner started up front with Jay Hart in place of the suspended Richie Allen.
In the impressive surroundings of Cougar Park, which Steeton groundshare with Keighley Cougars RLFC, Town started brightly with Tom Ince finding space immediately in the number 10 role.
It was after good play between Ince and Hart that Gary Basterfield found space, driving into the penalty area to receive Ince's returned pass before firing low under the keeper to open the scoring after just 5 minutes. 1-0 Town and an excellent start.
Steeton bounced stright back however and, when they equalised just 12 minutes later it was after a spell of pressure that twice saw Lee Dovey excel in goals to keep a clean sheet.
The goal had been coming and after Dovey again saved well, Angus Maney was first to react finishing high into the net. 1-1 after 17 minutes and a tough game ahead for Longridge and their travelling supporters.
Rather than panic Town continued to play a bright, short passing game with Ince controlling the game, and Ryan McKenna controlling any aerial threat at the back. Ince again found space 20 yards from goal, sliding in Jay Hart after 23 minutes and the Longridge hitman slid the ball precisely past the Steeton keeper into the bottom left hand corner to put Longridge back ahead. 2-1 Town inside 25 minutes.
Several then chances went begging as Towns intricate passing game was coming out on top against the Home sides rigid 4-4-2, with Ince twice being denied by the Home keeper, before the third goal came and gave the scoreline a better reflection of Town's dominance of the half.
It was Gary Basterfield again who came in at the back post to round off a fluent move after good work by Paul Turner, his left footed finish beating the keeper at his near post.
3-1 Town as half time approached, and Town were applauded from the field as the whistle blew to end an entertaining 45 minutes of football.
No changes for Longridge at half time but Steeton had reshuffled with Tom Ince now being man marked, and Paul Turner receving some frustrating attention at the hands of the Steeton substitute.
All to no avail however as Town continued in the same vein, with McKenna outstanding in the centre of the back three, winning everything in the air and using the ball well to play out of defence.
For regular Longridge supporters though, what happened next is becoming a familiar, if unwarranted, tale.
Tom Ince was given a stright red card, Town's third in four games, for swearing in earshot of referee Balal Moosa.
It was a blemish on an otherwise excellent performance but sadly that’s another three match suspension for Ashey to deal with.
Oddly, the sending off didnt really change the game.
Naturally Steeton now had more possession, and Dovey was forced into two excellent saves from outside the 18 yard box as Steeton looked to get back into the game, with Joe Melling dropping deeper to repel the Home side's tricky goalscorer Angus Maney.
There was no further drama, Wicks controlling the pace of the game and Paul Turner seeing his shot flying just over the bar, before Full Time came to end an excellent performance by Longridge against a strong Steeton side who sat sixth at the start of the day.
Longridge now travel to Holker Old Boys next Saturday, knowing that due to other fixture clashes, a win would elevate them to the top of the Hallmark Security NWCFL Divison One North.