ASHBOURNE FC secured fifth spot in the Staffordshire County Senior League Division One table after seeing off promotion rivals Handley Town reserves at the Recreation Ground.
With Handley third in the table, this had the makings of a fine match.
Handley started the better of the two sides with Ashbourne looking a touch sluggish.
The opening goal fell to the visitors when Ashbourne conceded a free-kick on the edge of the area and a well struck shot took advantage of the pitch conditions and squeezed in under the home keeper.
This goal livened the game up and both sides began to produce some good spells of football.
Ashbourne’s equaliser came when Sean Millward got on the end of Kevin Millward’s cross and finished at the second attempt.
The game took on a decisive turn when, after some sustained Ashbourne pressure, the Handley full-back handballed a goalbound shot, was dismissed and a penalty was awarded.
However, from the resultant spot-kick, Ashbourne could not take advanatge as Paul Spencer managed to put his shot wide.
Half-time saw Ashbourne stick with the same side and Handley shuffled onto the break with their midfield runners looking to support their lone striker.
The second-half began well for the hosts, with Handley conceding an own goal.
However, the visitors were not deterred and for the next 10 minutes they had their best spell of the match and capped this when they got back on level terms after a slack bit of defending.
Steve Williams was introduced as Ashbourne looked to retain the ball better and use their extra man to the best effect.
They began to exert some pressure and Declan Bacon had a goal disallowed for a very dubious offside decision.
The winning goal of the encounter came when Spencer was put through on the Handley goalkeeper and managed to beat the keeper to the ball to finish with some bravery, as he had to be repalced after a heavy knock to the knee.
Ashbourne were now keeping the ball well and had a couple more chances to win the game with some style but the score remained the same.
This was a fine performance from Ashbourne and completed the double over Handley this season.
Ashbourne’s next fixtures are Bradwell at home on Saturday, December 8 and Willington in the Derbyshire Divisional Cup (South) on Saturday, December 15.