By Brian Bennett | Photos: Ian Brodie
A brilliant strike by Lee Mason gave Ashington three crucial points in their quest for promotion against basement side Pickering Town at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.
And the importance Mason’s goal – which came shortly before half time – was even more significant with close rivals Bishop Auckland and Whitley Bay both tasting defeat against Carlisle City and Northallerton Town respectively.
Consequently, the Colliers leapfrogged over Bishops into second place and have a game in hand on the County Durham side as the clamour at the top of the Ebac Northern League’s first division heads towards a grand climax.
On a chilly afternoon in Wansbeck, the one piece of quality by Mason shone like a beacon in what was an uninspiring and dour affair played out on a heavy pitch.
In fairness the home side went in search of the opener but far too often passes went astray.
The first sniff of an opportunity came in the 12th minute when Craig Spooner played the ball through for Mason but his touch was just too heavy and his shot was held by ‘keeper Quinaceo Hunt.
Ashington continued to probe, dominating possession and midway through the period, a move involving Karl Ross, Ben Sampson and Mason ended with Spooner lifting the ball over from eight yards.
Ten minutes later, a free kick from 25 yards by Spooner cleared the bar then with half time approaching, the visitors had their first chance when Keelan Grist’s effort was tipped over by home stopper Karl Dryden.
What was to be the all important goal arrived in the 44th minute. Ashington broke from a Pickering corner and when Dan Maguire was fouled, referee Lewis Marriner played a brilliant advantage.
Maguire managed to play the ball through for Mason who twisted and turned inside the area before he struck a fierce right footed effort from a tight angle which crashed into the net via the underside of the crossbar.
After the break, Ashington continued to look for a second.
In the 51st minute, Damen Mullen, Sampson and Ross linked well but the move fizzled out with Hunt intercepting then just past the hour mark, Sampson and Robbie Dale worked a corner on the left to find Jordan Summerly who skipped past a defender but his drive was pushed out by Hunt.
And it was the ‘keeper who again denied the Colliers towards the end of normal time when he touched over a header by Sampson from a cross from substitute Lewis Suddick.
Ashington now make the short trip down the coast to face Whitley Bay at Hillheads on Good Friday (April 7) where kick off is 12 noon.
|Northern League - Division 1