By Brian Bennett | Match Gallery: Ian Brodie
Whitley Bay took all three points from this top of the table clash against Ashington at Hillheads Park on Good Friday with a goal scored by Elliott Day in first half stoppage time.
The Colliers went into the contest knowing that if they won, it would strengthen their own promotion hopes whilst at the same time bringing the Seahorses challenge to an end.
However as the league table stands with just under a fortnight of the campaign remaining, there are still several permutations possible.
Newton Aycliffe remain favourites to win the title with Bishop Auckland, Ashington and Whitley Bay vying for the play off spot.
On a pleasant spring afternoon, there was a good representation of Ashington supporters in the crowd on 783 – but they went home disappointed after seeing their side tumble to a second defeat in three matches.
Ashington started the brighter outfit and after only three minutes, Ben Sampson, Craig Spooner, Lee Mason and Lewis Suddick linked up well with the latter seeing his cross blocked at the near post for a corner.
Minutes later skipper Darren Lough, Dean Briggs and Dan Maguire worked a move down the left but it ended with home ‘keeper Dan Lister easily gathering a shot from Maguire which lacked power.
Whitley’s first threat came on the quarter hour when Bailey Geliher crossed for Mark Davison who headed wide.
Midway through, Mason played the ball through and it was Day who made a terrific tackle in the area to halt Suddick.
Suddick then let fly from 25 yards with a free kick which flashed narrowly wide before the home side broke the deadlock in the second minute of time added on for stoppages.
Following a corner on the right, the ball was recycled with former Collier Ben Richardson floating it into the danger area for Day who planted a firm header back across goal and inside the corner of the net with ‘keeper Karl Dryden rooted to the spot.
After a pretty mundane first period, the action at the start of the second half was intense.
Dryden held an effort from Josh Gilchrist; Spooner had a golden opportunity at the other end but fired over then a drive by Gilchrist was superbly turned aside by Dryden diving low to his right.
Ashington manager Ian Skinner gradually introduced his full compliment of substitutes and Adam Johnson – one of the five – played a ball through for Maguire.
The striker’s effort was blocked by Lister but Johnson blasted over the rebound. Another sub Scott Heslop had a shot pushed away by the home stopper before there was controversy in the 81st minute which left the visitors fuming.
Sampson poked the ball away from a defender who clattered into him inside the area which sent the midfielder tumbling to the ground but referee David Mitchell turned down the Colliers’ appeals for a penalty – and when Sampson spoke to the official, he was sent to the sin bin for ten minutes.
In the 83rd minute, Whitley almost put the game to bed when Geliher found Davison but his drive went inches wide of Dryden’s right hand post.
Even before they were reduced in number, Ashington had appeared to run out of ideas but they nevertheless kept going right until the end of the seven minutes of time which was added on.
|Northern League - Division 1