A late Jonty McDonald equaliser kept up Longridge Town’s title challenge as they drew 3-3 with local rivals Charnock Richard at Mossie Park.
McDonald completed his hat-trick with the 88th minute leveller that knocked champions Charnock off the top of the West Lancs League Premier Division.
And the result, which saw Town pull back Charnock’s lead on three occasions, reaped rich praise from Ashcroft who believes his side looked like title challengers.
He said: “In the end I was sort of disappointed with the result, especially with the way we played.
“I thought that we were magnificent from start to finish today. We ended the game stronger and overall for the neutrals watching, they might have thought it was us who were top of the league.
“I’m a very proud manager tonight.”
On three occasions Town went behind to the champions on their own patch and three times they pegged them back.
And the main instigator of Town’s fighting spirit was winger McDonald who terrorised Charnock’s defence throughout the 90 minutes.
But the home side went ahead when leading scorer Carl Grimshaw found space on the right to pick his spot to score after 28 minutes.
Up to that point Town had contained the lively home forwards, but four minutes later McDonald showed just what a talent he is as he weaved his way through the Charnock defence to slot home.
Charnock carved another chance for Grimshaw to rattle the crossbar just 60 seconds after McDonald’s leveller.
And the hosts were in front again in the 37th minute. Defender Damian Dashti clipped over a cross from the left and Jamie Sanderson who was stood in acres of space at the far post, headed home just before half-time.
And seconds after the break Charnock had a golden opportunity to increase their lead when Danial Hogg brought a good save out of Baldwin.
But McDonald equalised after 53 minutes from an excellent cross by Jordan Bowen.
With just eight minutes to go, Grimshaw latched onto a cross over the Town defence to again pick his spot for Charnock and seemingly keep their perfect start to the season in tact.
But Longridge were not beaten yet and two minutes from time they got their reward – a fierce Dan Walmsley drive had been parried away by Charnock keeper Gavin Bates and McDonald was again on hand to fire home his third equaliser of the game and complete a remarkable hat-trick and rescue a point for Town.
Boss Ashcroft said: “The way we played the ball around today I couldn’t be more proud of my side. I thought that we were magnificent.”
Team: Baldwin, Melling, Bryson (McKenna 50), Kilford (Garry 82), Walmsley, Helliwell, Longshaw, Nightingale, Coar, Bowen, McDonald. Subs not used: Ashcroft, Edgar, Lucas.
Town’s next game is on Saturday at home to Lostock St. Gerards of Preston, kick-off 3pm.