By Brian Bennett
Max Cowburn scored twice in the opening quarter hour against his former club as a rampant and clinical Ashington side effectively had this Ebac Northern League first division match against Whickham sewn up by half time.
After a poor display – especially in the final third – and 3-1 defeat against Redcar Athletic in midweek, Ashington’s finishing was top drawer and Cowburn’s double plus other goals from skipper Karl Ross and David Luke saw the Colliers cruise into a 4-0 lead by the interval.
Consequently it was an unhappy afternoon for Whickham’s assistant manager and former Ashington boss Steve Bowey who was returning to the ground for the first time since resigning over two and a half years ago.
But if it was all gloom and doom for Bowey, it was the exact opposite for Cowburn who got Ashington off to a flying start with two sumptuous goals.
The first came in the eighth minute. Danny Anderson won a header in midfield and found Cowburn who spotted James Anderson off his line and from fully 35 yards, clipped the ball over the ‘keeper’s head and into the back of the net.
Ironically, only sixty seconds earlier, midfield schemer Paul Robinson had tried the same trick from even greater distance with an effort from inside the centre circle which drifted wide.
Five minutes after his opener, Cowburn produced another unerring finish. On this occasion, Anderson threaded a great first time pass through the eye of a needle which bisected the Whickham defence. Cowburn latched onto it and coolly slotted the ball past the ‘keeper and in off the far post from ten yards.
In the 24th minute, Ashington pieced together another scintillating move which culminated in the third goal from Karl Ross.
Jordan Summerly and Robinson combined with the latter playing the ball through the inside left channel for Ross. The home skipper beat the offside trap, advanced into the area and steered his shot wide of the advancing Anderson with the ball clipping both posts before nestling in the back of the net.
Inside a five minutes spell, Ashington were caught out on two occasions with Whickham substitute Mark Fitzpatrick having both opportunities. With the first he was initially in acres of space but was closed down very quickly and blocked out then with his second opening, the former Dunston UTS striker sliced wide.
Ashington’s riposte was to add a fourth through David Luke with seconds of the half remaining.
Robinson was again the provider but Luke skilfully dragged the ball back to bamboozle a defender which put the midfielder through and he buried his shot inside the far post.
Early in the second half, Ryan McGorrigan cut inside from the right but curled wide then Ben Sampson set up two chances for Cowburn but he was snuffed out by Ben Milburn.
Just past the hour mark, the crowd gave a warm round of applause to ‘keeper Karl Dryden who for the first time in the game, was tested as he made a brilliant save at his near post to thwart Michael Hoganson.
Equally four minutes later when Sampson fed McGorrigan, the striker looked a certain scorer but was denied by the instinctive reactions of Anderson.
Ten minutes from time, ex Ashington forward Zak Atkinson headed wide from a free kick from substitute Alex Francis and in stoppage time when Whickham broke, a shot from Fitzpatrick was parried to his right by Dryden.
Sandwiched in-between, substitute Brandon Slater beat a defender and went through the middle but his shot was pouched by Anderson.
|Northern League - Division 1