By Brian Bennett
Ashington steamrolled past an in-form Carlton Town side to record a brilliant 4-0 victory at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday – when the key word of the afternoon was pace!
The Colliers have come up against varying styles in the Northern Premier League’s East Division – but they made it three wins and a draw from their last four matches after dominating this encounter from start to finish in front of another excellent crowd of over 500.
Early in the contest, Connor Thomson and Dan Maguire were on target for Ian Skinner’s side then in similar fashion, substitute Oli Thompson and Connor Thomson added strikes after the break.
It was also a game which although never feisty saw referee Sam Parnaby brandish eleven yellow cards which included six – plus one red – for the away side.
Before kick-off the players, officials and supporters observed an impeccable minutes silence for Armistice Day.
On a gluepot of a pitch, the Wansbeck outfit had assurance in defence; energy in abundance in midfield and pace upfront – and starting on the front foot they exerted their authority on matters with two quickfire goals.
In the fourth minute, Jordan Summerly hit a shot straight at ‘keeper Felix Annan but seconds later, Maguire’s pass through the middle released Thomson and the striker burst forward before firing a right footer into the net.
Ashington doubled their lead when Ben Sampson played the ball out wide and when it was crossed low into the box, Thomson glanced it on for the unmarked Maguire to side foot home.
The Colliers continued to press, looking a threat every time they ventured forward and a through pass by Thomson for Wilson Kneeshaw just had too much pace on it which allowed Annan to clear.
Midway through the half, another great move – again on the right – cut Carlton open as Spooner jinked inside and worked a swift one-two with Thomson before the former clipped his effort narrowly wide of the far post.
However, Ashington were presented with an unwanted new challenge during the first period when they were hit by a spate of injuries.
Just past the quarter hour mark, they lost defender Darren Lough who was replaced by Cam Gascoigne then within the space of a couple of minutes Summerly and Gascoigne were also forced off.
It meant that with at least 55 minutes remaining, Ashington had used up their maximum allowance of being able to field three substitutes.
In first half stoppage time, Kneeshaw and Thomson could have added a third for the Colliers.
Substitute Matty Dopson raided down the left flank and when he found Kneeshaw on the edge of the area, the forward made space for himself but lashed his shot over the bar. Then Thomson found himself in the clear but he was denied by Annan who saved with his legs.
Pace came to the fore at the beginning of the second half as within the opening ten minutes, a dominant and irrepressible Ashington outfit cruised into a 4-0 lead.
In the 49th minute, skipper Karl Ross found Thompson on the right who ghosted past a defender then swept the ball wide of Annan and inside the far post.
The home sides fourth came after a run by Kneeshaw which started in his own half. He outstripped three defenders with his blistering pace before laying the ball into the path of Thomson who made no mistake.
Niall Hylton fired wide for the visitors who were reduced to ten men in the 79th minute when Alex Hardwick was red carded after an off-the-ball incident near the half way line.
In the closing stages, Thomson unleashed a drive which went narrowly over then the same player dragged a shot wide on the turn at the near post.