By Brian Bennett
Darren Lough’s second goal of the season earned Ashington a point from a 1-1 draw against Stocksbridge Park Steels in their Pitching In Northern Premier League East Division clash at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday night.
Credit to groundsman Scott Robson for ensuring that the clash went ahead following the heavy rain but what unfolded was a tough battle on a stamina-sapping pitch with the visitors ending the contest with ten men after Alex O’Connor had been red carded in time added on near the end.
In the first half, there was little to enthuse about with chances at a premium.
Indeed it was the 20th minute before there was a threat on goal. The home side moved the ball across from left to right but Andrew Cartwright’s shot was blocked.
Seven minutes later when Stocksbridge went ahead, even then the goal was a scrappy affair.
Home ‘keeper Ross Coombe dived low to his right to deny Kurtis Turner but from the rebound Jack Watson bundled the ball over the line.
Ashington retaliated with Cartwright finding Ben Sampson who fired wide then a drive by Connor Thomson was tipped away by ‘keeper Harry Garman.
In stoppage time when play switched, Coombe had to be alert to push out a shot from Watson.
The Colliers showed more urgency after the break. Craig Spooner picked the ball up in midfield, ventured out to the left and struck an effort which fizzed across goal.
Within a minute, the visitors had a chance but when the ball fell to O’Connor, he lashed it over the bar.
Shortly afterwards, Ashington pieced together a great move which began with Sampson. He found Spooner whose pass bisected the visitors defence and presented Thomson with a one on one opportunity but his shot was blocked by Garman.
However, in the 65th minute, superb combination play led to an equaliser from Lough.
Gary Ormston and Spooner linked in midfield before the latter played the ball through for Wilson Kneeshaw whose pace took him to the by-line and when he crossed, Lough was on hand to slide home.
Within minutes, Kneeshaw – who had switched flanks – pulled the ball back again but on this occasion, a shot from skipper Karl Ross was blocked.
Ashington went all out for a winner. In the 72nd minute, Cartwright, Sampson and Ross combined but Ross’s cross to the near post was intercepted by Garman.
With time beginning to run out, Cartwright slipped a pass out wide for substitute Dan Maguire whose driven cross was brilliantly headed away from the danger zone by a Stocksbridge defender.
The visitors were looking dangerous on the break and in the dying minutes they almost caught the Colliers out. After a cross from the right, substitute Andrew Ring just failed to connect in front of goal then following a corner, a scramble developed in the home penalty area before the ball was eventually cleared.
In stoppage time, there was a flare up when O’Connor and Ross clashed near the touchline.
Both players received yellow cards from referee Tyler Dutton and as O’Connor had already been cautioned in the first period, the Stocksbridge number four was sent off.
|Northern Premier League - East Division