By Brian Bennett | Photo Album: Ian Brodie
Ben Harmison notched a hat trick as Ashington made it five wins from their last six league matches with a dominant and impressive second half display accounting for Redcar Athletic at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday night.
The Colliers – playing their first home game for five and a half weeks – had plenty of possession in the opening period but again lacked that killer touch in the final third.
Yet they could so easily have gone ahead in the 13th minute when they broke quickly from a Redcar corner.
Newcomer Lewis Green played a lovely weighted ball through for Dean Briggs but his sweetly struck right footed half volley from the edge of the area crashed against the crossbar.
Midway through, Ryan McKinnon had a header from an Andrew Cartwright corner blocked on the six yards line then Craig Spooner beat two players down the line and crossed to Lee Mason but his weak shot from 16 yards was easily claimed by Norton.
Similarly four minutes later, Karl Ross spurned another glorious chance after a slick interchange.
Briggs and Mason combined with the latter’s quick release bisecting the Redcar back line but Ross’s side footed effort was powder puff and directed straight at Norton.
For all of their dominance, Ashington could have been trailing shortly before the interval when a snap shot by Alfie Conway smacked against the foot of the post and flashed across goal with ‘keeper Karl Dryden well beaten.
In the opening minute of the second period, Sonni Coleman and Conway had shots blocked in the Ashington box – before the Colliers took total control with three goals inside quarter of an hour.
Showing much more urgency, Ian Skinner’s side had already threatened when Harmison glanced on a Cartwright free-kick but Spooner’s effort was held by Norton at the foot of the post.
However in the 57th minute, the home side broke the deadlock.
Cartwright’s set pieces caused problems all night and when he floated over a deep corner from the left, Harmison rose at the far post to nod into the roof of the net.
Green produced some good work cutting across from right to left and jinking past two defenders but when he passed to Spooner, the number two lifted his shot just wide.
It was to be Green’s last action of the night as on the hour, Ashington manager Ian Skinner made a triple substitution.
Green, Ross and Mason were replaced by Ben Sampson, Lewis Suddick and Paul Robinson – and three minutes later, it was the latter who doubled Ashington’s lead.
Harmison flicked on a Robbie Dale free kick for Robinson whose first touch took him past a defender which put him clear before he smashed the ball inside the far post.
Redcar’s problems increased further as they were reduced to ten men when defender Nathan Guru was sent to the sin bin.
Ashington ought to have made it 3-0 midway through the period when Sampson played a ball over the top for Suddick but his effort lacked power and was gathered by Norton.
However, in the 71st minute, Harmison got his second finishing off a delightful move.
Cartwright’s precision pass down the flank found Spooner – who was now operating in midfield after Briggs had been forced off through injury – and when he pulled the ball across, Harmison applied the finishing touch past Norton.
In the 79th minute, Dryden was called into action to push away a right footed thunderbolt by Coleman before a piece of magic from Robinson down the left saw him outsmart a defender and cross but Suddick headed wide of the upright.
Sixty seconds later, Sampson’s through ball sent Harmison through the middle until he was hauled down in the area.
Referee Andrew Bailey pointed to the spot but Suddick’s weak penalty was blocked by Norton who also saved the rebound from the taker.
However, in the third minute of time added on, Ashington made it 4-0 with Harmison completing his hat-trick.
The goal materialised following scintillating play down the left involving three substitutes.
Yannick Aziakonou found Robinson down the left flank who laid the ball into the path of the over lapping Luke Salmon and when crossed, Harmison slid home.
|Northern League - Division 1