Ashby Ivanhoe seal promotion in front of record crowd as Carta nets late winner

By Josh Kay

8th May 2023 | Local Sport

The celebrations were already under way before the final whistle. Photo: Josh Kay
The celebrations were already under way before the final whistle. Photo: Josh Kay

Ashby Ivanhoe 2 Droitwich Spa 1

Ashby Ivanhoe came from a goal down to sensationally win promotion thanks to a late Joel Carta winner.

The match marked the end of a remarkable league season for Ivanhoe, which was capped off in style in front of a record 836 spectators.

Despite this, it was Droitwich who flew out of the blocks and could have taken the lead inside the opening couple of minutes when Cory Rudd's cross turned shot looped over Tommy Dyche and struck the crossbar.

Moments later, captain James Lemon had a chance to give his side the lead. After good hold up play, he shifted the ball onto his left foot and from ten yards, dragged his shot agonisingly past the far post.

It was a case of when, and not if, Spa would take the lead and after nine minutes, they went in front through Charlie Tilley's low finish.

Photo: George Dunn

Rudd picked up the ball from a Dyche clearance and after linking up with Connor Collins, Tilley picked up the ball on the right and drove into the box, leaving Dyche with no chance as he arrowed the ball into the corner.

Buoyed by their goal, Spa could have doubled their lead when Perry Moss met Alex Dugmore's cross. Despite his best efforts he was unable to keep his header down from close range.

Spa then astonishingly failed to score when Collin's header was clawed away by Dyche, only for Joe Neal to clear Rudd's rebound off the line following a penalty shout as Lemon looked to pick up the loose ball.

As is often the case in football, they were made to rue their missed chances. Picking the ball up on the left, Josh Thomas lifted s superbly weighted cross into the feet of Danny Quinn, whose first time finish wrong footed Dom Rogerson.

The goal was from Ivanhoe's first shot on target and seemed to spring the hosts into life. Moments later, Sam Grouse found himself one on one with Rogerson, only to see his finish strike the post.

Quinn also had the opportunity to give Ashby the lead, Rogerson coming to the rescue on this occasion, getting both hands to the ball and turning his shot wide.

After the break, Thomas had the most glaring chance for Ashby. Picking up Grouse's through ball, the winger looked to slide the ball into the far corner but dragged his shot past the far post from close range.

Despite being put under pressure, Spa remained a threat and had their best chance through Scott Braiden-Smith, who headed wide after being left unmarked from a corner.

Photo: George Dunn

After this, they would find themselves under the cosh for the remainder of the match. Rogerson making two world class saves, first turning Quinn's goal bound header wide, and then acrobatically denying Robson, who wriggled his way past multiple defenders.

However, as the clock struck 89 minutes, Ivanhoe found the breakthrough. Thomas' corner was misjudged by Rogerson and turned into the empty net at the back post by Carta.

Despite starting poorly, it was a goal Ivanhoe had merited, based on their second half performance. The relief and jubilation was clear to see as players and fans celebrated what would turn out to be the winner.

The drama would not end there however, Droitwich captain Lemon was shown a red card in the dying seconds of the game after an altercation in the corner, as Ivanhoe looked to run down the clock.

They would not have to wait long for the celebrations to begin. The full-time whistle signalled the end of the most successful campaign in the history of the club and confirmed the beginning of step 5 football in Ashby next season.

Joel Carta celbrates his winning goal. Photo: George Dunn.

Promotion has been the target for Andy Gray since he took over as manager. He spoke about what it means to him personally, and for the club.

He said: ''I'm so pleased for the club, the town, it's been a tough slog but to get the club up is a fantastic feeling and I'm delighted for everyone."

His sentiment was shared by chairman David Morris who added: ''I don't think anybody could be more pleased. So many people from the town have come to support us and I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart''.

Before the summer break, Ivanhoe will compete in the Leicestershire County Cup final where they face Lutterworth Athletic.

In what has already been the most important season in the club's history, Gray's side have the chance to give Ashby Ivanhoe's 75th anniversary season a fairy-tale ending.


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