Ten-man Radcliffe saw off third-placed Ashton United to claim victory on the road, writes Kieran Wilson.

Scoring in both the early, and late stages of the game at Hurst Cross, Boro came away 2-0 winners on their travels against a team placed firmly in the play-off places, despite being a man down for the majority of the fixture.

Radcliffe remained unchanged from the 3-0 victory against Ilkeston Town, the only switch being the return of captain Nicky Adams to the match day squad following his absence with injury and he went on to play a huge part in the victory.

After only three minutes, Radcliffe found the breakthrough after a positive start on Tameside. Following pinball in the Ashton box from Brad Jackson’s dinked cross, the ball landed kindly for Lois Maynard to poke underneath the goalkeeper from close range at the back post, dispatching his third of the campaign.

Luke Joyce struck a rare shot from 25 yards out on the 18-minute mark, the midfielder fired straight at Luke Simpson and the Ashton shot stopper managed to gather the effort at the second attempt as Jordan Hulme tried to take advantage of the loose ball.

The hosts started to come into their own midway into the first half, having a number of chances to level the terms. Top scorer Jason Gilchrist couldn’t find the target with a shot on the turn inside the box, and Sean Newton’s bouncing effort from a corner was collected by Mateusz Hewelt.

On 30 minutes, Radcliffe were reduced to 10 men as Scott Duxbury saw red both in emotion and from the referee, barging Alex Byrne in an off the ball incident after several hard challenges meant tensions rose between the two players, leaving the Boro in an awkward position despite holding the lead.

Ashton hit the woodwork on the cusp of half time through Byrne, who struck the outside of the right post with a half-volley from 20 yards out, allowing Radcliffe to enter the break a goal up, but a man down.

At the start of the second 45, Jamie Morgan entered the fray to take up a defensive position after going down to ten men, Brad Jackson had to bear the brunt of that decision, despite being bright in his time on the field.

Moments before Nicky Adams also came onto the pitch to make his return from injury, Mateusz Hewelt was called into action to catch Alex Byrne’s in-swinging corner, being perfectly placed to regain possession in his side’s favour.

Radcliffe reduced Ashton to shots from distance as the back line defended resolutely whenever Steve Cunningham’s players entered the final third. Mitchell Rose hit a travelling shot with venom which flew inches over the bar from 25 yards out, which left the polish ‘keeper scrambling 68 minutes into the game.

From a similar distance, Jason Gilchrist rattled the post with a powerful effort after Nicky Adams was dispossessed on the half-way line, leading to Ashton gaining their closest chance of levelling the terms with 15 minutes left on the clock.

After a lengthy stoppage in play for an unfamiliar reason, that being one side of Radcliffe’s goal collapsing following a collision with Mitchell Rose which left him in the back of the net, Ashton continued to relentlessly press in order to restore parity.

Byrne tried his luck at setting up a goal with a pass across the box which was pushed away by Hewelt, the next goal would be the all important one, and it was Radcliffe who converted it with only minutes of the 90 to play.

Substitute Nicky Adams played a one-two with Jordan Hulme, allowing him to enter the box in space and chip over the onrushing Luke Simpson, into the back of the net to cue celebrations from the hundreds of travelling Boro faithful.

Seven minutes of added time wasn’t enough for Ashton to gain anything out of the game after the late blow, confirming Radcliffe’s victory on the road at the referee’s full-time whistle.

Radcliffe are back in action tonight when they host Stafford Rangers.