By Brian Bennett
Ben Harmison’s penalty miss shortly before half time proved to be a major turning point as Ashington lost their home clash against neighbours Whitley Bay at Woodhorn Lane on Boxing Day.
The Colliers, playing in their Jackie Charlton tribute strip to support ‘shelters no home kit campaign’ to raise awareness of homelessness were the better side in the first period and were already ahead thanks to a well taken goal by Lee Mason when Dean Briggs – on his return after being sidelined for two and a half months through injury – burst into the area only to be sent sprawling as he went past two Whitley defenders.
Referee Kieran Graham – who had an excellent match on his first appearance in charge at Ashington – had no hesitation in pointing to the spot but skipper Harmison skied his left footed effort well over the bar.
After Karl Ross had got in the way of a thunderous and goalbound drive from ex Collier Ben Richardson, Craig Spooner went close to doubling the lead when he dug the ball out of his feet only to clip just over.
Then within eight minutes at the start of the second period, the Seahorses turned the game completely on its head.
They fashioned a chance in the opening seconds of the resumption and when Andrei-Vasile Ardelean crossed low into the danger zone, Lewis Orrell side footed the ball home from close range.
Mason put an effort wide after receiving from Spooner then in the 53rd minute, a cross from the right by Bailey Geliher hung up in the wind which caused problems for home ‘keeper Kyle Hayes who flapped at it and when the ball came back off the bar, Luke Porritt had the easy task of tapping home.
Even then a revitalised Whitley side had further chances with Orrell curling a shot wide and the Wansbeck outfit also surviving after a goalmouth melee when a cross from the left resulted in an effort by the same player being blocked.
Ashington – kicking into the teeth of the wind – struggled to string any passes together but as they nevertheless went in search of an equaliser, a snapshot by Dan Maguire flashed agonisingly wide; substitute Ben Sampson fired over from distance; a free-kick by Robbie Dale was not far off target and in the last minute of the 90, sub Damen Mullen skied over following a short corner on the right.
The clash – between second from top Whitley against the third placed Colliers – never reached any great heights with the players having to contend with a heavy pitch as well as a strong westerly wind which produced the proverbial game of two halves.
After a cautious start, the match was six minutes old before the first sniff of a chance arrived when Dale found Briggs whose audacious lob from 30 yards cleared the bar.
Seconds later, Elliott Day, Porritt and Orrell combined but the move came to a halt when Jordan Summerly made an excellent tackle inside the area.
Play switched again with Briggs putting Mason through for a one-on-one with keeper Dan Lister and although the striker unleashed a powerful effort, Lister saved superbly tipping the ball over the bar.
The Colliers took the lead in the 12th minute.
Briggs made a great forceful run through the centre before playing the ball through to Mason who took his time then buried a shot wide of Lister.
Midway through the period, Day had a left footer clawed away by Hayes then Ashington pieced together a superb move which involved Dale and Mason before the over lapping Spooner had a cross headed behind for a corner.
Six minutes before the break came the penalty award but Harmison was unable to give his side a two goal cushion.
Ashington were caught cold by Whitley’s fast start to the second period – and as a result, went down to their second home defeat of the season at Woodhorn Lane.
Before kick-off, there was a minute’s applause in memory of lifelong Ashington supporter Neil Thomas, who passed away recently.
|Mon 26/12/2022||1:00 pm||Northern League - Division 1||2022-23||771|
|Referee||Assistant 1||Assistant 2|
|Kieran Graham||Connor Kitson||Michael Moore|