A BRILLIANTLY executed goal by Paul Ashton in the 26th minute separated the sides in a bruising encounter at Shawe View on Saturday.

Visiting striker Jake Eyre shot straight at Tom Read from 10 yards after just four minutes but Trafford gradually assumed control and Michael Oates should have put them ahead in the 21st minute but was denied by a great save by Jack Ward.

Five minutes later, however, Oates and Nia Bayunu linked to feed Paul Ashton who unleashed a stunning angled drive into the top corner from 30 yards. Ward then saved at full length from Shelton Payne and a wickedly curving Andy Smart free kick wreaked havoc in the visitors’ defence but Trafford could not force the ball home.

Garry Vaughan’s side dominated the second half and after Paul Ashton ballooned his shot well over from a good position, Martyn Andrews sliced wide from 15 yards.

Tom Read then saved at full length to thwart Liam Royles following a slip by Smart and Steels giant centre back Brett Bowden Lovell headed home at the near post but saw the goal ruled out for offside.

Trafford were so much slicker than their rather cumbersome opponents and in the 64th minute the quicksilver Shelton Payne fired inches wide from 18 yards. Andy Smart then struck another free kick from a great position into the Steels defensive wall and when the visitors failed to clear, Martyn Andrews struck a first time shot against the foot of the post.

Despite their superiority, Trafford were unable to add to their solitary goal but were nevertheless delighted to collect three more precious points that moves them into a highly creditable mid-table position in this their first season in the Evo Stik Premier Division.

On Saturday, Trafford make the journey over the Pennines for the return fixture at Stocksbridge Park Steels, kick off 3 p.m.

* Trafford Football Club are holding a sportsmens evening at Flixton Golf Club on April 25. Guest speaker is radio and sporting personality Fred Eyre with comedian Billy Bean. Tickets and further details are available from David Law on 07772 287086.