By Brian Bennett
Ashington’s involvement in the FA Trophy for almost 40 years was brief – as they tumbled out at the first hurdle against Dunston UTS on Saturday.
The game was effectively over by half time as two goals in quick succession from Sado Djalo – after an opener from Jordan Lamb – had put the home side into a commanding position.
Although the Colliers showed endeavour until the final whistle, their day was compounded when they had substitute Charlie Exley sent off ten minutes from time.
On a scorching hot day, Ashington boss Ian Skinner handed a debut to midfielder Paul Van-Zandvliet – signed from North Shields – whilst Scott Heslop made his return to the side after suspension.
The Wansbeck side were first to threaten. In the fourth minute Van-Zandvliet found Heslop who played a one-two with Wilson Kneeshaw but Jude Swailes made a timely interception.
The game was developing into a good contest – but in the 11th minute, the visitors ought to have gone in front.
Van-Zandvliet released the overlapping Jordan Summerly and when he cut the ball back, Kneeshaw directed a first time effort straight at ‘keeper Dan Staples who palmed the ball away.
It proved to be a massive turning point.
Minutes later Jack Elliott beat the offside trap but was thwarted by Ashington’s keeper Karl Dryden.
However despite the Colliers playing some excellent football and being the better outfit in the opening 25 minutes, they went a goal behind against the run of play.
Jonathon Chrisp played a pass across the box to the unmarked Lamb who quickly got the ball under control before lashing it high into the net wide of Dryden.
The visiting stopper kept out an effort from Djalo before another turning point arrived in the 34th minute.
After Summerly’s corner was blocked, Damen Mullen returned the ball to the full back who cut inside and let fly with a rasping effort which was tipped over by Staples.
Then within the space of eight minutes, the Colliers were staring down the barrel of making an exit from the competition.
In the 40th, a shot from David Robinson cannoned off an Ashington player but straight into the path of Djalo who slotted home wide of Dryden.
Within sixty seconds, the goal scorer was again denied by Dryden then in the first minute of additional time a fizzing drive by Luke Carr went narrowly over.
Seconds before the half time whistle, Dunston made it three after Ashington had lost possession.
Elliott raided down the left and when Dryden advanced, Elliott dinked the ball across for Djalo who had the simple task of tapping home.
It was basically game over but after the interval, the Colliers pieced together a superb move which ended with a stinging drive by Darren Lough going just wide with Staples rooted to the spot and then quarter of an hour later, another slick attack saw substitute Craig Spooner fire narrowly off target.
To add to Ashington’s woes, Exley was shown a straight red card in the 80th minute following a tackle on Chrisp and the game finished with Spooner hitting a shot which went straight down Staples’s throat.