By Brian Bennett
Adam Johnson came off the bench to score the winner as Ashington were forced to dig deep before recording a 2-1 victory over Penrith at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.
After having a penalty saved, Robbie Dale opened the scoring for the Colliers just prior to half time but the hard working Cumbrians equalised through Luke Hunter. Striker Johnson then fired home what proved to be the clincher with just under quarter of an hour remaining.
Following rain in the morning, excellent work on the pitch by a group of volunteers resulted in the game getting the go ahead.
Home fans were left frustrated as their side missed chances but the main stumbling block for Ashington’s failure to put the game to bed even by half time, was an outstanding display between the posts by Penrith’s Aaran Taylor who not only kept the Wansbeck side at bay but who single handedly walked away with the man of the match award.
For parts of the game it was edgy and nervy but the Colliers cracked the code and returned to winning ways for the first time since mid November.
It was staggering that it took the Colliers until the dying embers of the first period to break the deadlock – as it had looked to be merely a matter of time.
They began their dominance as early as the third minute when a clever flick by Dan Maguire put Dean Briggs through but after cutting inside, his heavy touch allowed Taylor the opportunity to pounce and snuff out the danger.
Lee Mason had a goal ruled out for offside then Briggs found Craig Spooner who fired wide of Taylor’s left hand post.
After Mason had shot off target from eight yards, great work on the right by Maguire – where he wriggled one way then the other – saw him find Briggs but the midfielder drove his effort wide of the far upright.
The Colliers continued to knock on the door and when Briggs seized onto a back pass, he tried to round Taylor but the ‘keeper whipped the ball off his toes.
Just past the half hour mark, Ben Sampson and Maguire combined with the latter laying the ball across for Robbie Dale who was upended by Luke Brown as he cut back inside.
Referee David Carr pointed to the spot but Dale’s penalty was blocked by Taylor.
A great crossfield pass by Dale found Briggs on the right flank who pulled the ball inside but Sampson’s right footer was repelled by Taylor and from the resultant corner, a header by Darren Lough was cleared off the line.
The pressure continued to mount as the hard grafting Maguire slipped a pass through for Mason. He took the ball around Taylor but his shot was cleared from the danger zone by Robbie Hebson.
However when the ball was recycled, Taylor produced a miraculous save from a header by Mason. Already moving to his right, the stopper somehow swayed to his left to tip the ball onto the bar with a defender clearing the rebound for a corner.
However the breakthrough finally arrived three minutes before the interval and was a piece of magic by Dale.
Spooner’s run into the box saw him lay the ball off to Dale who coolly jinked past a defender which put him clear before he rolled a shot wide of Taylor and inside the corner.
Ashington were quick out of the blocks after the interval. Maguire and Spooner linked together to set up Sampson whose centre flashed across the face of the goal.
Then Mason and Briggs both had efforts; the first was saved by Taylor and the follow up blocked by a defender.
Despite all of Ashington’s dominance as they pushed for a second goal, Penrith served notice that they could hit on the break and Jonny Murray was not far off target with a shot from the right.
Taylor denied Spooner then Dale, after spotting the ‘keeper off his line, tried an audacious effort from 45 yards which dropped just over the bar.
However in the 73rd minute, the Cumbrians levelled.
Murray crossed from the right where Hunter lashed the ball into the roof of the net from close range.
Ashington manager Ian Skinner introduced Johnson for Briggs – and five minutes later, it was the substitute who came up trumps.
He cut inside from the touchline and turned then unleashed a low left footer from 20 yards which crept just inside the upright.
And with three minutes of the 90 remaining, Johnson could have put the game firmly beyond the visitors when he latched onto a through pass from sub Karl Ross.
Johnson bore down on goal but his goalbound effort was tipped away – by that man Taylor.
|Sat 7/1/2023||3:00 pm||Northern League - Division 1||2022-23||486|
|Referee||Assistant 1||Assistant 2|
|David Carr||Mark Baston||Jake Ferguson|