The Bulls face Ashton United at Edgar Street this weekend in their latest National League North match of the 2018/19 season. Following Peter Beadle’s departure, it will be the first game that the new interim Management team involving Player-Manager Ryan Green and new Head of Football Gareth Davies take charge of. Check out all of the information you need to know ahead of kick-off below in our Preview!
Founded in 1878 as Hurst United, The Lambs, as they were nicknamed at the time, joined the Ashton & District League in 1891 but after finishing ninth in the league in the 1891–92 season, it was reported in June 1892 that the club had folded.
They were reformed in 1909, and were admitted to the Manchester League as it was expanded from 16 to 18 clubs. Records indicate that the current Hurst Cross ground was first used by the club in 1880, making it one of football’s oldest surviving venues.
Following numerous seasons battling in the Lancashire Combination and the Ashton and District League in the early 1900’s, Hurst United changed its name to Ashton United F.C shortly after the Second World War. Ashton’s first honours after World War II again came in the form of the Manchester Challenge Cup, won in 1950 and then held for three seasons from 1953 to 1955.
As the seasons went on Ashton continued to battle across the several divisions in the Manchester area, storming to the 2nd Division title in 1962 winning every home league game that season. The Robins also recorded League Cup success under the managership of former Scottish international Hugh Kelly.
Following the turn of the century, Ashton became founding members of the National League North in 2004. In 2011, Ashton United won the Northern Premier League Challenge Cup, beating Northwich Victoria 1–0 in the final.
Ashton then finished in the play-off positions three times consecutively from the 2013/14 season to the 2016/17 season, losing every single time. After finishing fifth in 2013–14 the club lost to AFC Fylde in the final on penalties, the 2014–15 season saw bitter rivals Curzon Ashton defeat them on penalties after a 1–1 draw and finally a third consecutive play-off campaign saw the club lose 3–1 to Salford City in the semi-finals.
Despite having one of the lower budgets in the division last season, it was a case of fourth time lucky as Ashton once again finished in the play-off positions but defeated Farsley Celtic 2–0 in the semi-finals, before beating Grantham Town in the final to earn promotion back to the renamed National League North ahead of the 2018/19 campaign.
So far this season Ashton have not had a magnificent start to life in the National League North, currently placed in 19th position, one place outside of the relegation zone with seven points amassed so far this season.
The Robins have only picked up one victory so far this campaign, a dramatic 4-3 win over fellow strugglers FC United of Manchester in the second matchday of the season.
Ashton have also conceded five goals in two separate home matches already this season, once to Brackley Town who defeated the Bulls last weekend and once again to League leaders Chorley FC.
United have chalked up four draws this season as well against the likes of Kidderminster, Nuneaton, Southport and Darlington.
Based on the size of the squad and rumoured budget capabilities this season, Ashton may well be very happy to finish where they are now in the table, one place above the relegation zone, if that were to guarantee National League North football next season.
Ashton’s last 5 matches: LDDLL
Hereford’s last 5 matches: WLLDL
The Manager – Jody Banim
Former striker Jody Banim started out as a Manchester United youth and on leaving the prestigious academy, he joined his local side Trafford where he showed a talent for scoring goals, registering 20 in his first season at the club.
A short hop up the pyramid saw him join Altrincham in 1997, before moving back down to help Flixton to one of their best seasons in 1998, scoring 25 goals in 32 matches.
It was not long before he was back up the pyramid again, this time with Hyde United at the start of the 1999/2000 season. He finished the season with Rossendale, where despite being a crowd favourite, opted to join Radcliffe Borough at the start of the 2001/2002 season.
It was at Radcliffe where he began to really shine, scoring 97 goals in 125 games for the Manchester outfit.
Banim then enjoyed spells at Accrington Stanley, Stalybridge Celtic and Droylsden as well as a brief spell abroad with MLS side Maryland Monarchs, before retiring at Salford City.
Now 40 years old, Banim was appointed joint Manager of Ashton in September 2016 before solely taking over as Manager ahead of the 2017/18 season.
Despite having one of the lower budgets in the division last campaign, Banim assembled a squad which subsequently won 23, drew 13 and lost ten games, ending the season in second spot and setting up a playoff semi-final appearance for the fourth time in five years. Ashton, of course, were victorious and Banim achieved promotion with the Robins in his first full season of Management.
Star Man – Matt Chadwick
Chadwick began his career at Stalybridge Celtic before enjoying spells throughout the different non-league levels at Mossley, Chadderton, Radcliffe Borough and Salford City.
Chadwick registered an impressive 23 goals in all competitions in last season that saw him finish top scorer for the club, as well as being awarded ‘Fans Player of the Season’ in Ashton’s fantastic promotion season last year.
The prolific forward has found his form again this season, with four goals to his name so far this campaign. While Ashton have not enjoyed the most successful start to the season so far, Chadwick no doubt possesses a dangerous threat.
Make sure you are at Edgar Street this Saturday for the Bulls next National League North match! You won’t want to miss it.
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