New signing Harrison makes his mark to seal Ashby Ivanhoe's first win as a Step 5 club

By Josh Kay

2nd Aug 2023 | Local Sport

Action from Ashby Ivanhoe's win over Eastwood on Tuesday night. Photo: Josh Kay
Action from Ashby Ivanhoe's win over Eastwood on Tuesday night. Photo: Josh Kay

Ashby Ivanhoe 2 Eastwood CFC 1

Ashby Ivanhoe picked up their first victory of the season - and the first as a Step 5 club - as they saw off Eastwood CFC in a tight affair.

Without Saturday's goal scorer Danny Quinn available, Ivanhoe turned to their other attacking options, with the strike pairing of Sam Grouse and new signing James Harrison netting the goals.

Boasting several players with impressive resumes, Eastwood edged the first half with their captain Aaron O'Connor squandering the half's two best chances.

The former Newport County and Mansfield Town striker's first sight of goal came when he was played through one-on-one with Sam Taylor, lobbing the goalkeeper but narrowly lifting the ball over the crossbar.

Later in the half, he once again found the ball in a good area as he directed a shot goalwards from close range, on this occasion however, it took a sensational stop from Taylor, who stuck his left leg out to deny O'Connor.

Ivanhoe's best opportunities came from a pair of setpieces. On both occasions, Liam Donaghy swung in a useful delivery, however neither Macauley Holmes nor Joel Carta were able to direct their headers on target.

Eastwood may have felt that they deserved to be ahead at half-time, however they were stunned early in the second half as last year's player of the season Ash Garner played a perfectly weighted pass through to Grouse who rounded goalkeeper Sam Wilson and fired past multiple defenders who attempted last-ditch interceptions.

It had been a quiet evening for Grouse up until that point, but Ashby's top scorer in 2022/23 showed why he remains a force to be reckoned with, burying his first chance of the match.

Following the goal, the hosts were forced to play counter attacking football. However, from one such break they should have doubled their lead.

Grouse darted into the box and squared the ball to substitute Harrison, who could only fire straight at Wilson.

He was made to rue his miss as Eastwood's next attack resulted in the equaliser. The dangerous Tyler Blake flicked the ball past two Ashby defenders on the left flank, finding Terry Atem whose right footed shot took a slight deflection and looped over Taylor into the corner.

It was difficult to argue that the visitors' equaliser was undeserved, but they were only level for a matter of minutes, as the pace of Grouse and Harrison continued to cause havoc.

Determined to atone for his earlier miss, Harrison cut inside from the left and unleashed a shot which clipped an Eastwood defender, completely deceiving Wilson and restoring Ivanhoe's lead.

Harrison made an impressive impact in pre-season and the continuation of his good form into the league campaign has justified the excitement around his signing.

The rest of the match was a largely cagey affair, with Ashby showing more of the defensive solidity which was vital in their promotion campaign last season and refusing to allow Eastwood back into the match.

Man of the match, voted by Ashby supporters, went to Will Robson who despite being one of the smallest players on the pitch, rarely lost a duel and showed great discipline in helping to protect the lead, while being a constant threat with the ball at his feet and setting counter attacks in motion.

Andy Gray's team return to action on Saturday where they will meet fellow UCL Premier North side Deeping Rangers in the FA Cup, the first time Ashby have been in the historic tournament since 2016.


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