Peter Tonge brings us his verdict on Northwich Victoria’s 1-1 draw at Ashton Athletic last night…

A POINT gained in a match that never really got going.

Vics started the game the better for the first 10 minutes or so before Ashton woke up and then looked the better team for the rest of the first half.

In the 3rd minute, Ryan Winder whipped a lovely free-kick in from right but somehow it evaded everyone and ended up going for a goal-kick. Ash Dunn then had a well struck shot in the 11th minute, but it was well blocked out for a corner.

Shortly afterwards, Ashton had their first chance when the right winger beat a couple of players and set up Edward Servuts, who should have done better than skying his shot high over the bar.

Chris Cheetham was then forced into a fine save low to his left to beat a shot from Nicholson away, before the dangerous Luke Sephton for Vics dragged a shot wide after being found by a great ball in from Brandon Barski.

In the 27th minute, poor marking by Vics led to Ashton having a free header from a free kick but it was put wide.

Vics' best chance of the first half came in the 37th minute as good work from Sephton and Matty Birchall led to a race between Brad Lynch and Ashton's keeper for the ball, but the keeper won it by an inch when all it needed was a touch.

A minute later and another good chance for Lynch as he cut in from the left and smashed a shot goalwards from 18 yards, but unfortunately it straight at the keeper who saved well.

In the last minute of the half, Vics were forced into a change with new signing Martyn Jackson coming on in place of Adam Owen, who was the victim of a bad tackle.

Ashton quickly took the lead in the second half as a careless free kick was given away by Vics on the edge of the area and up stepped Sam Harding to strike the ball against the post and then fortuitously into the net via the back of the diving Cheetham.

However, Vics responded well to this set-back, and were back on level terms just 11 minutes later.

Birchall escaped down the right and crossed low across the box, where Sephton superbly left it for the marauding Lynch to stroke home at the back post.

Vics were then unfortunate not to take the lead when Sephton put pressure on the keeper Aspinall as he was clearing, the ball crashed against him and rebounded just wide of the post.

Three minutes later, a lovely ball in from Lynch was met by Birchall, whose header was weak when Dunn was better placed behind him.

Vics kept pressing but couldn't trouble Aspinall, but they were given a bit of hope as Servuts was sent off after collecting two yellows in five minutes, the second for a ugly foot-up challenge on Joe Camozzi which probably deserved a red on its own.

Birchall had a fierce shot just wide and Aspinall pulled of a fantastic reaction save to tip a deflected shot just around the post.

Try as they might, Vics couldn't make the numerical advantage count as the match petered out to a draw, which was probably a fair result.