During the first five years very little progress was made by the club on or off the field, income was meagre which made reductions to the debts non-existent. The cricket was on the whole uninspired which didn't help attendances. However, there were players during the early days at Reyner Lane who represented the club with distinction amongst these were J. E. Cryer, H. P. Boulton, C. H. Waterhouse, J. Fletcher, J. H. Fletcher, E. Gartside, C. J. McGregor, T. Hardicker and J. J. R. Leach. In 1880 with the club's finances still woefully inadequate it was decided to make an appeal to the general public: A bazaar was organised to take place at Ashton Town Hall and while the public failed to turn up in numbers for the cricket they certainly turned out in numbers for this event. As a result a grand total of £800 was raised which enabled the club, after expenses, to pay off the debt owed on the ground and still leave them with around £500. This money was used wisely over the next few years, the ground which was only around 1,600 square yards initially, was gradually extended with more accommodation for spectators being added. In the hope of increasing the number of members and attracting bigger gates additional professional talent was engaged. This started to have an affect on the playing front with some improved play and in 1885 and 1886 when members of the 'Lancashire Cricket Association' the club enjoyed considerable success in cup competitions. In 1886 they were semi finalists in the 'Lancashire County Amateur Cup' losing out to Darwen.
Also in 1886 the Ashton Cricket Club was happy to host a match against a visiting Parsis team. The Parsis were the first Indians to play cricket, and play it well. They promoted the first cricket clubs in India, and in 1886 organised the first-ever cricket tour by Indians to Britain. At Reyner Lane the Parsis on the first day were all out for 71. Ashton's innings straggled both days in which they scored 176. In the Parsis second innings they were all out again for 71. At the end of the first day of play both teams dined together at the Wheat Sheaf, Stamford Street.
However, even this variety in cricket and the quality being played by the likes of C. H. Waterhouse, E. Gartside and J. Fletcher was not enough to capture the attention of the general public. As the years passed the money in hand was all used and the club's expected return from new members and an increase in numbers through the gate never materialised. For the next ten years the club struggled and was in a most unsatisfactory position financially. Not for the first time the club struggled on and one must credit the resolve of those in charge during such difficult times. By 1895 however, a new spirit seemed to overtake the club and with increased enthusiasm from members, players and the general public progression began to happen. One player in particular J. Horsfall had an outstanding season to which his team mates responded. This resulted in the townsfolk taking a greater interest which showed in the attendance figures. Overall the next couple of years saw Ashton producing some excellent cricket winning many admirers along the way.
At the end of the 1897 season the club decided that their existing pavilion had reached the end of its life - It was now over forty years old and had first served them at Moss Lane. Funding for a new building was met by donations and loans from members. The work in its erection was completed in April 1898 and in celebration a special opening day event was arranged. The occasion was planned for Saturday 7th May when Ashton met the Manchester Cricket Club who had a very strong eleven with at least four county players within their ranks. A larger than average crowd gathered in the May sunshine to witness the grand opening ceremony performed by local Member of Parliament Mr Herbert Whitely. After he had performed his duties Mr Whitely was presented with the inscribed silver key he had used to open the pavilion. The day was rounded off with some excellent cricket from both teams in a game which ended in a draw in Manchester's favour.