Ashton happy to be keeping clean sheets

Burgess Hill v Crawley Town. Jon Ashton . Pic Steve Robards SR1516632 SUS-160402-153335002
Burgess Hill v Crawley Town. Jon Ashton . Pic Steve Robards SR1516632 SUS-160402-153335002

Crawley Town defender Jon Ashton is happy Reds have only conceded one goal in their last four matches.

Since the disastrous display at Leyton Orient during which they lost 2-0 in uninspiring style, Mark Yates has built a more solid defence.

He brought in new signing Charles Dunne in loan from Blackpool at left back while right back Lanre Oyebanjo has also added strength by finally returning from a long-standing knee injury to make his first appearances of the season.

Ashton was in the thick of an exhausting defensive display away at Luton Town, during which they managed to hold firm despite the home side bombarded the Crawley penalty area.

He said: “It felt like we defended for 90 minutes but I feel it doesn’t matter how you get the three points as long as you do and it was a good team performance in the end.

“As a defender, you get as much pleasure keeping a clean sheet is as strikers do scoring goals.

“So the fact we have kept a couple in the last few weeks boosts the team’s morale as well.

“I think we struggled earlier in the season to get our clean sheets and now we are defending really well, so the hard work’s paying off!

“We had a spell where we were playing three at the back and that worked for us at times but we had a bad defeat at Leyton Orient and the gaffer decided to back to four at the back and it’s doing well for us.

“It’s no secret I prefer playing as a four, but we’ll play whatever system the gaffer decides will get us the three points.

“There’s less grey areas playing as a four and I’ve played it for the majority of my career and it’s what I know better and am used to it.

“The fact we’ve had Charlie Dunne in on loan has helped as he’s settled in really well.

“Lanre (Oyebanjo) has done very well these last few matches and has made a difference to the team definitely.”

Ashton does not mind playing the part of elder statesman at the back but does believe everyone should take a turn in leading.

The 33-year-old is a veteran of 254 league appearances having played the most at Oxford United and more recently Stevenage.

He said: “I’ll bark the orders but I’m a firm believer you’ve got to have 11 leaders on the pitch.”

Ashton is looking to finish the season as strongly as possible, despite their 16th position suggesting they are not likely to either get promoted nor suffer relegation.

And playing for next year’s contract is also a factor for a squad where only three players currently hold contracts for next season.

Ashton revealed: “The lads will make sure we are in the best position possible come the end of the season.

“For whoever’s still here next season under the new owners, it will stand them in good stead to finish strongly.”

Ashton, who is one of the majority whose contract is up for renewal, very much wants to stay on at Crawley.

He said: “I’ve loved playing here this season and I’d love to earn a new contract and stay here next season.”