THE changes promised at ASHTON UNITED are already taking shape — and they are all about football, not cost-cutting.
“I’ve seen some talk on social media that we’ve had to release Lee Gaskill and Jack Dorney because of a reduction in our wage bill, but that’s not true” said co-boss Jody Banim.
“Any money that we’ve freed up has gone straight back into the team. We’ve made three signings already and hopefully there will be more to come.”
The new players — all on dual registrations from Curzon Ashton — are winger Johnny Gorman, striker Nico Collins and midfielder Benito Lowe, the son of former Curzon and Hyde United manager Gary Lowe.
Banim explained: “Will (Haining) and I were bitterly disappointed by the way we played on Saturday. We lost 4-1 at Mickleover, a team who were technically no better than us but possibly had more legs in midfield and the forward department. Something had to change.
“Hopefully all the new lads will be with us for the foreseeable future. Benito’s been at Skelmersdale and Nico scored 18 goals in 14 games for Abbey Hey. We had our eye on him for some time and he’s been training with us and doing well.”
Banim and Haining will be relying on the new blood to help them arrest a slide that has taken the Robins from play-off contention to 16th in the table. After a promising November they have lost all three league matches played this month.
Ashton have no local derbies over Christmas as they are the only Tameside club in the Evo-stik NPL premier division. Their Boxing Day fixture is home to Warrington, and on Thursday, December 29, they visit Nantwich.
HYDE UNITED find themselves in a similar situation in the first division north as they prepare to go to Droylsden on December 26 before entertaining Colwyn Bay three days later. The Tigers’ last victory was on November 8, a run of six league games without a win.
Manager Darren Kelly has made three signings this week.
Midfielder/defender Laurie Bell, who has extensive experience in the USA, returns to the Tigers on a dual registration with Macclesfield Town following his return from playing for Karlslunds in the Swedish second division (Norra Götaland).
Striker Matthew Beadle joins Hyde from Colne where he scored seven goals in 17 starts. At 1874 Northwich he found the net 34 times last season. Goalkeeper Ryan Crump, signed from Southport, will be understudy to Russ Saunders.
Beadle may go straight into the team to replace Ayrton Bevins who remains injured after the very heavy challenge he suffered at the end of Hyde’s home game with Ossett Town. Sam Fitton is also out but both players are expected to be available in early January.
Shaq Clarke is doubtful for DROYLSDEN who are home to Hyde on Boxing Day but have no game on Thursday.
Defender Phil Clarke faces a lengthy lay-off after breaking his right leg at the start of last weekend’s match at Bamber Bridge. The operation to repair the fracture was a success and he plans to be at the Butchers Arms on Monday.
An intriguing Boxing Day clash awaits at Surrey Street where GLOSSOP NORTH END will a MOSSLEY side whose form has greatly improved over the last month.
After rare consecutive defeats in the league and Manchester Premier Cup, Glossop boss Chris Willcock made several changes ahead of last weekend’s 3-2 home defeat of Kendal. Even the reliable Sam Barnes was left out and there were only three substitutes on the bench.
Mossley should be at full strength, while Jamie Rainford remains unavailable for the Hillmen through suspension.
On Thursday, the Lilywhites are home to Radcliffe and Glossop go to Trafford.
A sickness bug means that Luke Clarke, Jonno Hunt and Niall Cummins are all doubtful for CURZON ASHTON’s National League North derby at Bower Fold on Boxing Day. Joe Guest is 50/50 with a slight hamstring problem.
STALYBRIDGE CELTIC head into their must-win clash with Curzon with two potential debutants in the squad. Striker Lee Gaskell has been signed after being released by Ashton United and defender Callum Spooner is on loan from Bolton Wanderers.
Skipper Matty Hughes (back) faces a late fitness test but joint-bosses Paul Phillips and Steve Halford are confident that striker Scott Spencer, winger Aidan Chippendale and defender Danny Wisdom will be back to full fitness.
Leading scorer Andy Owens has been allowed to go to Buxton on an initial month’s loan.
There are no National League North games on December 29.