By Brian Bennett
The scoreline suggests a 5-1 romp and easy win for Ashington over Newcastle University in their Newcastle Flooring Senior Cup first round clash on Tuesday night – only it doesn’t paint a true picture.
Indeed it was only after a late show with three goals inside the final quarter hour – two from substitute Scott Heslop and one from Wilson Kneeshaw – that the Colliers booked their place in the quarter finals.
The plucky students arrived at Woodhorn Lane after an eye catching 6-4 victory over Kendal Town in the Isuzu FA Vase on Saturday but they were rocked back on their heels as the Wansbeck side took the lead only 70 seconds into the contest.
Following work on the right, Wilson Kneeshaw crossed the ball into the centre of the goal where Declan Bisset had the easy task of side footing the ball home from close range.
Five minutes later, Ashington pieced together a great move which ended with Mason Hardy’s shot taking a deflection and going behind for a corner.
Just past the quarter hour mark, the University had a golden chance to restore parity – from the penalty spot.
Tolu Osiyemi cut inside the area where he was upended by Charlie Exley and referee Zak Kettle pointed to the spot.
Ben Miller stepped up and struck a powerful kick which saw home ‘keeper Ross Coombe dive low to his right and get a fingertip onto the ball before it cannoned off the post and was cleared to safety.
Minutes before the break, in what was a low key affair, Ashington had a great opportunity to double their lead. Kneeshaw stepped over Exley’s low cross from the left but Hardy fired over.
Then as the half entered the first few seconds of time added on, Coombe preserved Ashington’s lead.
The Students went direct and from ‘keeper Max Richardson’s clearance, Miller’s pass released ex Collier Jack Butler who was in on goal but saw his effort superbly blocked by the stopper.
Ten minutes after the interval, Ashington added a second when Bisset found a bit of space and unleashed a right foot thunderbolt from 25 yards which took a deflection before the ball crashed inside the top corner.
Hardy had a header cleared off the line following good work down the left flank between Exley and Kneeshaw then at the other end, a shot from James Matthews whistled just wide.
Ashington failed to heed the warning and midway through the half, the University halved the deficit with a terrific strike.
Joel Burgess claimed the assist with an incisive ball which cut through the home defence and Christopher Pearson – who had only been on the field two minutes as a substitute – made no mistake as his whipped cross shot from the right gave Coombe no chance as it rocketed inside the upright.
Ashington then introduced Scott Heslop – and it was the striker whose quickfire double put the tie beyond the students.
In the 73rd minute, Damen Mullen swung over a corner from the right to the far post where Heslop powered home a header.
Sub Ben Sampson then played a lovely ball through for Heslop who drifted wide before firing across Richardson and inside the bottom corner.
Three minutes from time the Colliers went nap when a shot by sub Craig Spooner was pushed out by Richardson and Kneeshaw slotted home the rebound.
The score line flattered Ashington but incredibly they could have added a sixth only sixty seconds later.
Heslop had a chance to complete his hat-trick when he latched onto a through pass from Sampson but scuffed his shot which ran through to Richardson.