|Tue 17/8/2021||7:30 pm||Northern League - Division 1||2021-22||552|
By Brian Bennett
A master stroke by Ashington manager Ian Skinner paid dividends on Tuesday night as his side – trailing by a single goal at the interval – rallied and went on to collect a deserved share of the spoils from a pulsating Ebac Northern League first division clash against neighbours Whitley Bay at The dwmedia Stadium.
The Colliers were clearly second best in a first period where the Seahorses dominated and a huge plus for the home outfit was the fact that they were only 1-0 down at the turnaround.
Skinner made a bold double substitution at half time – and Ashington’s second half showing in comparison to their first, was like chalk and cheese.
Yet from the first whistle of the opening half, it could have been so different as Skinner’s men started the game well. After only 22 seconds, Jordan Summerly raided down the left and found Dean Briggs but his effort rippled the side netting.
Whitley hit back with Matty Weirs finding Jamie Dunn who fired wide from 25 yards.
Then in the tenth minute Whitley’s ex Ashington ‘keeper Chris Bannon kept the score sheet blank.
A weaving run by Briggs saw the home skipper roll the ball across for Bobby Taylor whose effort was blocked by Bannon.
Whitley got on top and after a superb tackle by Curtis Coppen on Jason Chanayire just outside the area denied the Bay forward, Richard Coulson had a good opening but blasted over.
Ashington were guilty of giving the ball away on numerous occasions whilst Whitley continued to control matters and they went ahead in the 21st minute with a fine finish from Adam Shanks.
Again the move – which was slick – came down the left and when Shanks got possession, he unleashed a power drive from the edge of the area which flew into the net giving ‘keeper Karl Dryden no chance.
Two minutes later, a cross by the impressive Dunn cannoned off Summerly and over the bar for a corner then a long ball out of defence found Chanayire who was thwarted by Dryden.
Ashington were struggling to piece anything together but in a rare raid, Briggs had a cross cut out at the near post by visitors skipper Craig McFarlane.
Ross stroked wide of Bannon’s right hand post but as half time approached, only a great save from Dryden kept out a certain second from Shanks.
Before the start of the second half, Skinner withdrew Ben Sampson and Bobby Taylor introducing Max Emmerson and Brandon Slater. The boss also changed formation and Ashington were superb for the first 20 minutes – although the Colliers still had to be alert with Whitley dangerous on the counter attack.
Five minutes in, Coulson had a shot charged down by Harmison – who had switched from striker to centre back – then a shot by Shanks was turned around by Dryden.
Tom Bramley was relishing in his new role out on the right of the defence and in the 55th minute after a Briggs shot had been deflected, Bramley – spurting down the flank – saw his low cross narrowly missed in front of goal by Slater.
But within sixty seconds, Ashington’s relentless pressure saw them get back on terms as Briggs slotted the ball through for Ross who tucked his shot past Bannon.
The last quarter of the game was end to end. Dryden held a shot from Coulson then former Seahorses midfielder Paul Robinson found Summerly down the left but when he crossed, Danny Anderson fired over.
Even in the closing stages, both sides went for the jugular. At one end, Chanayire glanced wide then at the other Ashington forced successive corners and from the second, Whitley were happy to clear following a scramble.
Then in stoppage time, Robinson threaded a pass through for Briggs but he was denied as McFarlane made a brilliant interception to put the ball behind for a corner.
The home supporters in a crowd of 552, did their best to roar their side on – but in the end a draw was a fair result.