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MATCH PREVIEW Ashton United v Farsley Celtic
Tuesday 1st May 2018 @ 11:31 by Mark Phillip
Football Sports

Evo-Stik Premier Division play-off semi-final

Ashton United v Farsley Celtic


Excitement is steadily building ahead of the play-off semi-final between Ashton United and Farsley Celtic at Hurst Cross this evening (Tuesday, May 1).

The Robins capped off a memorable season in dramatic circumstances at Workington on Saturday, coming from a goal behind to claim a 2-1 victory thanks to a last gasp winner from Liam Tomsett, who joined the club over summer having spent a fruitful period with near neighbours Curzon Ashton. Victory in Cumbria gave Ashton a second place finish and guaranteed a home tie in the play-off semi-final.

Jody Banim’s side have defied the odds this season and overcome some serious player setbacks to book their place in the playoffs for a fourth time in five years.

The former Droylsden striker took charge of the Robins on a full-time basis at the start of this season after helping the club to a mid-table finish with Will Haining last year.

Although Ashton have one of the smaller budgets in the division, Banim assembled a promising squad over summer and set his sights on the playoffs from the very first whistle.

However, he was dealt a massive blow during the pre-season schedule when Ryan Crowther, who scored more than 20 goals last year, picked up a season ending injury at Radcliffe Borough in July.

Despite the setback, the Robins started the season positively and embarked on a five game unbeaten run, scoring seven goals and conceding five.

The first five results set a benchmark for the rest of the season, and even with an injury plagued squad, Banim’s side have maintained their quality to pick up 23 victories, 13 draws and ten losses.

Home form has been key to the Robins’ success this season, as Banim’s side have picked up 44 out of a possible 69 points at Hurst Cross, and they will therefore enter tonight’s clash against Farsley Celtic, who finished fifth on Saturday, with much confidence.

The two sides have, of course, met twice in league competition this season. The first encounter took place in August and ended in a 1-1 draw at Hurst Cross, before the reverse fixture also saw the points shared in a 3-3 draw in October.

Farsley, who are managed by former Curzon assistant Adam Lakeland, booked their place in tonight’s semi-final after picking up a trio of victories in their final three games. The latest, a 3-0 win over Marine on Saturday, came courtesy of goals from Nathan Cartman, Luke Parkin and Isaac Baldwin. The former joined from Darlington on a permanent basis in November and has netted 20 times this season.