By Brian Bennett
A goal from skipper Ben Harmison salvaged a point for Ashington against Heaton Stannington at Grounsell Park on Wednesday night.
A draw was a fair result in this Ebac Northern League first division encounter even though both sides had clear chances to win the contest after Harmison’s excellent strike had cancelled out an equally brilliant first half finish from Daniel Stephenson.
On a stamina-sapping pitch, both teams found the going tough – but in otherwise perfect playing conditions, both outfits gave their all.
After the Stan’s 1-0 victory at Woodhorn Lane a little over five weeks ago – the result sets up what promises to be a titanic battle in two weeks time when the two sides battle it out for a place in the semi finals of the Techflow Northumberland Senior Cup.
The home outfit had the first threat inside two minutes when a back pass by Ryan McKinnon slowed up on the turf and gave Louis Anderson a chance but ‘keeper Karl Dryden made a double block, denying Anderson then saving the follow up effort from Stephenson with his legs.
In the tenth minute, Ashington fashioned their first opportunity when Liam Smith – who was influential in the first period – swung over a free kick from the left but McKinnon directed his header straight at ‘keeper Tom Flynn.
Heaton were looking dangerous up front and just past the quarter hour mark, Konner Lamb had a shot blocked.
In the 27th minute, the home side broke the deadlock with a super strike from Stephenson.
Lamb provided the assist finding Stephenson on the right and the forward curled a delightful left footer past the outstretched hands of Dryden and into the top corner.
But three minutes later Flynn prevented the equaliser when Harmison latched onto a cross from the flank by Jordan Summerly but saw his header pushed away at the foot of the post.
Five minutes later, Smith, Andrew Cartwright and Ben Sampson linked well and when the latter crossed, Craig Spooner got on the end of Harmison’s flick on but fired wide.
Similarly when Smith cut inside from the left and crossed, Harmison was off target with another header.
Five minutes into the second half, Anderson shot wide for Heaton then Lee Mason almost levelled with a spectacular effort.
Harmison – who was excellent up front all night – headed on a clearance from Dryden and Mason, spotting Flynn off his line, tried an audacious lob from 40 yards which dropped narrowly wide.
In another move, Mason rolled the ball past the post then Spooner saw a right foot drive from the edge of the box superbly saved by Flynn diving to his right.
A long diagonal ball from Robbie Dale was then glanced on by Harmison but Mason – on the turn – lifted the ball a yard over.
In the 73rd minute, Ashington manager Ian Skinner made four changes – introducing Yannick Aziakonou, Lewis Suddick, Karl Ross and Paul Robinson.
Five minutes later, it was Ross whose sheer determination took him through a couple of challenges before he slipped the ball wide for Harmison and the skipper drove a low left footer across Flynn and into the far corner for the equaliser.
Both sides went for the jugular.
With three minutes of the 90 remaining, Suddick’s shot smacked against the post and from the rebound, Robinson cut inside and flashed an effort narrowly wide.
At the other end, ex Collier Jordan Lashley was involved in two moves.
Following a counter attack, the substitute lobbed over then in the fourth minute of stoppage time, he glanced the ball on for Stephenson but his scuffed effort was gratefully held by Dryden.
|Northern League - Division 1