By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC defender Charlie Exley said that winning the game at Consett on Saturday was the ‘main thing’ – after he had made a goalscoring return to action having been ruled out for the last four and a half months with an ankle injury.

With the scores locked at 1-1 and 20 minutes remaining, Exley was thrust into the fray along with Cam Gascoigne and the two substitutes combined to put their side 2-1 up with the latter setting the ball up for Exley to lash home left footed.

Although Dan Capewell equalised a second time in the contest for the Steelmen, Connor Thomson bagged the three points for the Wansbeck outfit five minutes from time which saw Ashington claim their first win in eight years on the artificial surface at the Belle View Stadium.

Newcastle-born Exley said that he was ‘ready’ and ‘felt comfortable’ to return to action. Earlier in the week he had been named amongst the substitutes – although he didn’t feature – when Ashington drew 3-3 against Pontefract Collieries in West Yorkshire.

“I got the injury at the beginning of November in our away game at Grantham,” said Exley, “I had an MRI scan which showed a miniature break to my ankle. There were no chippings so it didn’t require surgery but its left deep lying bruising which can take a while to go away. I resumed training 4-6 weeks ago and was named on the bench last Tuesday. I was ready if required and I felt comfortable knowing that if I had to come on that I would be fine.”

On Saturday, Exley was again named as a substitute (at Consett) and just shy of the half way mark in the second period, was given the nod by manager Ian Skinner.

Five minutes later, the 23 year old netted with a fine left foot finish: “It was quite a clean strike and against my former club – even though I’ve still got some really good friends at Consett,” he said, “It was just a relief to get back on the pitch and play and I just tried to be positive when I came on. I thought the game was crying out for someone to spark a bit of life and intensity into it and I thought Cam (Gascoigne) and I did well – we compliment ourselves in different ways.”

Exley – a street lighting electrician – went on: “When I get injuries they tend to be serious – so with my fingers crossed, my target is to finish the season unscathed and help the lads to push on because we should be further up the table. It was good to score on my comeback but securing the win was the icing on cake.”