THIS was a game after which managers Carl Macauley and Jody Banim could be happy and frustrated in equal measure.

That probably means the result is right.

It was a hard-fought draw, and both Witton and Ashton remain in contention to claim a play-offs place.

Albion have now gone five home Premier Division matches without a win, and they played against 10 men for close to an hour following Lanre Olapade’s dismissal.

However they were indebted as well goalkeeper Calvin Hare for stopping Nic Evangelinos’ penalty midway through the second-half.

“I don’t feel we’ve missed an opportunity,” reflected Macauley afterwards.

“We created chances, and their goalkeeper was busier than ours.”

On those counts, he’s right.

Witton fell behind during a frantic opening when Mark Lees, Ashton’s captain, thundered a rising shot out of Hare’s reach.

Albion’s reply was instant, and Rob Hopley jabbed an effort against the crossbar after Steven Tames’ initial attempt was diverted his way by a defender’s intervention.

A delay to equalise wasn’t long though, and from the home team’s next attack Tames was able to resist Aaron Chalmers’ bid to stop him before blasting forcefully past the Robins’ custodian Dave Carnell.

Will Jones, on his 28th birthday, was then gifted a free hit at goal by full-back Ryan Makhosini’s sloppy pass.

However he sent it straight at Carnell.

The net-minder could not keep hold of James Foley’s driven free-kick on 23 minutes, but smothered the loose ball before Michael Wilson could make contact.

At the other end, John Pritchard leapt to meet Dom Smalley’s cross and Hare scrambled to save at his near post.

Ashton’s task was made harder when Olapade was sent off for hauling back Tom Owens, using both hands around the midfielder’s waist, as his opponent tried to burst clear.

Referee Matthew Corlett had an easy decision to make, producing a red card.

Albion toiled to make their advantage count, although Carnell reacted smartly to deny Jones shortly after the interval.

The goalkeeper produced his best to thwart Hopley low to his left, although even he could only watch when Owens inexplicably prodded wide from inside the six-yard box after Jones had cushioned a header into his path.

Instead the home team’s supporters puffed their cheeks with relief when Hare used his boot to block Evangelinos’ penalty after he had tripped Liam Tomsett.

He was alert too when diving to his left to turn Chalmers’ well-struck set-piece around an upright moments later.

For a spell, the away side looked more likely victors.

Tames dragged a shot wide, although Albion did not get up a head of steam.

They continued to be met with defiance from Carnell too, and he was equal to Hopley’s header when the front man met Danny McKenna’s corner.

Macauley added: “We’ve taken another point off one of the league’s best teams.”

As a newly-promoted side, that continues to represent progress in the right direction.

Witton | 4-4-2 | Hare (GK), McKenna, Humphreys, Wilson, Devine, Tames, Haywood, Owens, Foley, Hopley, Jones Subs not used Evans, Eves, Bembo-Leta, Neild (GK) Goal Tames 5 Booked Foley (kicking ball away), Humphreys, Wilson, Hare (all fouls)

Ashton | 4-3-3 | Carnell (GK), Smalley, Olapade, Chalmers, Makhosini, Smith (Johnson 62), Roberts (Hinchliffe 78), Lees, Tomsett, Evangelinos, Pritchard (Granite 36) Subs not used Banim, Woodford Goal Lees 4 Booked Smalley (foul) Sent off Olapade (foul)

Referee Matthew Corlett

Attendance 326