By Brian Bennett
He’s only gone and done it again!
For the second time this month, striker Adam Johnson came off the bench to hit a precious winner for Ashington.
Johnson had netted to clinch the points in the home game against Penrith – and on Saturday, he struck again as the Colliers completed a seasons double over Crook Town with the narrowest of victories at the Sir Tom Cowie Millfield ground.
After a dip in form where they picked up one point from 12, Ian Skinner’s side have gone about their business in a softly, softly fashion to get back on track and their latest and deserved success – in a game played at an unrelenting pace throughout – was their third maximum on the bounce.
There was plenty of endeavour in the first period and Ashington should have got their noses in front long before Johnson scored in the latter stages of the half.
In the seventh minute, Paul Robinson – on his return to the side – found Dan Maguire and when he played the ball through to Lee Mason, the striker snatched at the opportunity and lashed over from six yards.
The 13th minute proved to be unlucky for defensive lynchpin Darren Lough.
A shot by Robinson was headed behind by home skipper Dan Mitton and from the flag corner on the right, ‘keeper Ronan Makepeace made a spectacular reflex save from Mason and from the rebound, Lough’s header smacked against the bar and was cleared.
It was the 20th minute when Crook had their first real chance. Craig Moody fired the ball in low and Ashington ‘keeper Karl Dryden was forced to tip it around at the foot of the post.
Ashington almost unlocked the door on the half hour. The prominent and influential Robinson found the over lapping Jordan Summerly down the left flank but the full back’s low cross was intercepted in the nick of time by Makepeace.
Two minutes later, the woodwork also denied Craig Spooner after the full back struck a rasping left footer from distance which came back off the bar.
But in the 37th minute, Johnson – who had replaced the injured Maguire – put Ashington ahead with a clinical finish.
Mason’s pass sent the substitute through in the inside left channel and after driving forward, Johnson struck a left foot drive through the legs of the advancing Makepeace with the ball nestling inside the far post.
The link up play down the left between Robinson and Summerly had been a feature and before half time the pair combined again with Summerly’s cross being cut out for a corner.
Early in the second period, it was Johnson who seized onto a back pass and pulled the ball across but Mason’s connection was weak and Makepeace got back to smother.
On the hour, Dryden blocked a shot from Ben Garrity before the visitors had further chances to put the game to bed.
Two minutes after coming on, Dean Briggs had an effort saved by Makepeace and the lively Johnson latched onto a pass from Briggs but the home ‘keeper got a vital touch as the forward took the ball past him.
Robbie Dale then played a lovely ball out wide to Lewis Suddick but the substitute was also off target and the final opportunity fell in time added on when subs Karl Ross and Liam Smith combined with the latter having a shot which was deflected over the bar.
|Sat 28/1/2023||3:00 pm||Northern League - Division 1||2022-23||291|
|Referee||Assistant 1||Assistant 2|
|Scott Henry||Hope Cairns||Chloe West|