Relegation-battlers Ashton defied pre-match bookmakers’ odds of 12/1 to nick the points against league leaders Chorley at Victory Park.
The Magpies’ third defeat in four games leaves them clinging to top-spot on marginal goal difference and a win against bottom-of-the table Nuneaton on Tuesday has now become essential.
It could all have been so different if a couple of the very close calls in the Ashton goalmouth in the opening half-hour had produced goals.
Keeper George McMahon kept the visitors in the game at that stage with a trio of superlative saves and when he was beaten he was fortunate that the crossbar came to his aid in both the first half and the second.
However, to Ashton’s credit, once they went in front on the hour they rarely looked like surrendering the lead, so solidly did they defend.
Alex Newby crashed a shot against the visitors’ bar in the opening minutes, while from a quick Ashton counter-attack Matt Urwin made a fine save from Kallum Mantack’s low shot.
As the Magpies upped the tempo, Newby forced McMahon into a superb reflex save from another hot-shot Marcus Carver failing to penetrate a cluster of defenders in the six-yards box from the rebound. McMahon repeated the heroics soon afterwards and it seemed just a matter of time before Chorley broke through.
But the Magpies’ fire was not sustained as a series of hold-ups disrupted the flow of the game, one of which led to Scott Leather leaving the field with a head injury.
The decisive goal arrived on the hour from a corner which ricocheted onto the far post, Matthew Regan prodding the ball past Urwin into the net at the second attempt. Almost at once,
McMahon touched a Josh O’Keefe header from a corner onto the bar and the rebound was hacked clear.