By Brian Bennett
Ashington were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw against Grantham Town at the South Kesteven Sports ground on Saturday, despite taking the lead on two occasions.
The upside of the result was that the Colliers extended their unbeaten run to three matches. However they should have returned home with all three points even though they were forced to play the last half hour with only ten men after midfielder Paul Van-Zandvliet was red carded for a tackle.
On-loan striker Connor Thomson scored with an early penalty but Grantham levelled through Luke Hinsley. Barely 40 seconds later, a cross by Thomson was turned into his own net by Sam Muggleton before skipper Greg Smith levelled for the hosts.
At 1-0, the Colliers had two great opportunities to double their lead through Thomson and Craig Spooner and they proved to be massive turning points with Grantham’s Muggleton instrumental in the home goals.
For the majority of the game, Ashington coped well Muggleton’s long throws but he had the final say with both of Grantham’s strikes coming after his deliveries into the danger zone.
On a miserable afternoon, Ashington made a great start to the game and took the lead in the sixth minute.
Oli Thompson was upended inside the box by Smith and Thomson sent ‘keeper Curtis Hall the wrong way from the spot.
In the 20th minute the Wansbeck outfit put together a good move which ended with Spooner curling a shot just wide then just shy of the half hour mark, it should have been 2-0 but Thomson missed a sitter.
Van-Zandvliet sprayed a pass out on the left to Wilson Kneeshaw who cut along the by line and squared to Thomson but he ballooned the ball over from close range.
At the other end a cross by Curtis Morrison went across the face of the Ashington goal; ‘keeper Karl Dryden was forced to tip a throw in by Muggleton over the bar then in stoppage time, Smith headed narrowly over.
Twenty seconds into the second half, the woodwork denied the Colliers. Again the construction of the move which involved Thompson, Thomson and Summerly saw the latter find Spooner on the right.
The midfielder jinked inside before looking on as his left footer smacked against the base of the post and rebounded straight into Hall’s arms.
Grantham equalised in the 51st minute when Muggleton’s throw into the area found Hinsley who hooked home left footed into the roof of the net.
However Ashington hit back immediately to regain the lead.
Thomson’s pace took him past a defender and when he crossed the ball low from the left, Muggleton turned it into his own net.
On the hour, two talking points occurred. Van-Zandvliet was sent off then Kneeshaw – looking to tap the ball home after taking it past Hall – went down under challenge from the ‘keeper but the referee waved aside appeals for a penalty.
Grantham fired a warning when Hinsley had a goal ruled out for offside but two minutes later they were level when Muggleton’s throw caused problems and Smith side footed home.
To their credit, Ashington – despite being reduced in number – continued on the front foot.
Substitute Cam Gascoigne had a shot deflected for a corner then fellow sub Ben Sampson saw his effort blocked.
|Sat 4/11/2023||3:00 pm||Northern Premier League - East Division||2023-24||223|
|Referee||Assistant 1||Assistant 2|
|James Cliffe||Ellis Mills||Erno Vajda|