|Fri 24/2/2023||7:30 pm||Northern League - Division 1||2022-23||232|
By Brian Bennett
Ashington march on after wrapping up their seventh win in their last eight league game from Friday night’s Ebac Northern League first division clash against Newcastle Benfield at Sam Smith’s Park.
There was plenty of endeavour from both sides on a bitterly cold evening but in the end, two quality finishes either side of half time from Dan Maguire and Craig Spooner put the Colliers in control and on the road to their latest success.
However in the second period, ‘keeper Karl Dryden was called on to make four outstanding saves as the Lions never gave up and the game had a nail biting finale after Cameron Gascoigne had halved the deficit with seven minutes of the 90 remaining.
The teams had served up a six goal thriller at Woodhorn Lane in mid October and Ashington knew it was going to be a tough encounter as the home side competed for every ball and indeed were the better side in the opening stages.
However, on the quarter hour it was the Wansbeck outfit that had the first clear cut chance when Spooner played the ball through for Maguire who went past two defenders but his shot lacked power and was easily held by ‘keeper Alfie Gordon.
Spooner fired two efforts off target then on the half hour, Ben Sampson and Spooner combined to set up Karl Ross whose right footer flashed just over.
Heading towards the break, Yannick Aziakonou unleashed a drive from fully 25 yards which was well held by Gordon moving to his right.
However in the 43rd minute a slick and breathtaking move down the right cut Benfield open and led to the opener from Maguire.
Sampson’s first time flick released the overlapping Andrew Cartwright and when he played the ball low into the area, Maguire beat a defender to the ball to sweep wide of Gordon.
Three minutes after the interval, Spooner was on the score sheet for the second game in a row as he doubled Ashington’s lead.
Maguire’s pass put the midfielder through and he made no mistake from ten yards driving wide of Gordon.
The goal was just the start the Colliers had been looking for and initially it took the wind out of Benfield’s sails.
Minutes later Ryan McKinnon released Jordan Summerly whose low cross fizzed across the danger zone when only a touch was required.
Benfield made a change for the beginning of the second half introducing Dennis Knight and on the hour, the skilful striker teed the ball up for himself before smashing a left footed volley from 20 yards which was pushed aside by Dryden.
It was a warning – and for the final 20 minutes plus time added on, Dryden was the star performer.
In the 72nd minute, the ‘keeper made a double save to deny both Knight and fellow sub Paul Brayson then denied Connor Walker with an incredible stop from point-blank range.
From the resultant corner on the left, Gascoigne hammered a low drive from 16 yards through a ruck of players and inside the far post to set up a grandstand finish – but Ashington dug deep to hold on for another precious three points – a victory which saw them move into second from top spot in the table.
- Craig Jinks
- Assistant 1
- Connor Kitson
- Assistant 2
- Phillip Clayton