By Brian Bennett | Photo: Keith Saint
Ashington FC’s Ben Sampson notched his first goal of the season in the Colliers 3-0 win over Stocksbridge Park Steels in their Emirates FA Cup replay – and the midfielder could not have opened his account at a better time!
After a sensational start when Yannick Aziakonou and Paul Robinson both scored inside the opening eight minutes, the Sheffield based visitors – who play in the Northern Premier League East Division, one above the Colliers – had made a positive start to the second half.
However in the 55th minute, their hopes received a severe setback when Sampson seized on a rebound to blast home after Steels ‘keeper Harrison Davison-Hale had spilled a free kick by Dean Briggs: “I don’t score many,” said Sampson, “It was my first goal of the campaign and it was a bit of a blur really. I just drove the ball into the back of the net then celebrated.”
The attendance at Woodhorn Lane – a record breaking 1,424 – was probably the biggest crowd Sampson had played in front of: “The game was tough,” he said, “but the pitch and the conditions were good. It was hard work but apart from when they (Stocksbridge) had a spell in the first half, I thought we controlled the game. I think it was the biggest crowd I have played in front of and the encouragement from the fans does make a massive difference. They never stopped chanting and encouraging us down at Stocksbridge to get us into this replay and it’s brilliant playing in front of them. The support has gone to another level because when I first started coming here the crowd was never like this but its built up. The people behind the scenes have done loads of work to get the club up to this point and they deserve a lot of credit as do the lads on the pitch who are entertaining the fans who in turn want to come back.”
He added: “We are a good team and the defeat against Billingham Town in the Isuzu FA Vase was a huge disappointment because with the team the manager has put together, I’m sure we could have gone far in the competition. However, I think this run in the FA Cup is sort of making up for it. The crowds are massive and the occasions are huge.”