By Brian Bennett | Photos: Ian Brodie
Ashington clinched promotion to the Pitching In Northern Premier League East Division on Saturday after a convincing and deserved 3-0 victory against Glossop North End in the Inter step play off at the Asgard Engineering Stadium.
On the day, all that mattered was the result – but Colliers manager Ian Skinner and his assistant Andy Coyles got much more than that from the players.
Over recent weeks, reference has been made about the Wansbeck side turning in their best performance of the season including their recent 6-0 thrashing over Tow Law.
Earlier in the campaign there were displays – and results – in their fabulous run in the Emirates FA Cup.
But without a shadow of a doubt – and bearing in mind in such a prestigious game against higher status opposition – they saved their finest until last.
Quite simply, Ashington were magnificent from start to finish.
They were creative and tenacious; their work rate was unrelenting and they were roared on by around 200 of travelling supporters who never stopped singing and gave their side plenty of vocal encouragement throughout.
It was a game of limited chances with all bar a couple falling to the visitors who settled immediately and who made a good start.
Inside the opening minutes, Craig Spooner fired wide then Paul Robinson and Jordan Summerly linked well and when the latter crossed, Ben Harmison headed narrowly over.
Glossop’s first opportunity came almost at the half way mark when Colliers ‘keeper Karl Dryden palmed out a shot from skipper Nathan Valentine.
Ashington’s approach work was also a feature – and it came to fruition in the 26th minute when they forged ahead.
Ben Sampson made a darting run forward from midfield before laying a pass off to Robinson.
The midfielder slipped the ball inside down the flank for the over lapping Summerly and when the full back whipped over a cross, skipper Ben Harmison finished the move off by hammering a right footer into the roof of the net.
The goal was no more than the visitors merited and would certainly not have been out of place in the highest standard of football.
Ashington had been the dominant side and their only disappointment at the interval was only having the one goal to show for their efforts.
The home side looked livelier from the start of the second period but apart from an effort by Bevan Burey which flashed wide, Ashington looked rock solid in defence.
The Colliers almost doubled their lead when Harmison headed down a free-kick by Andrew Cartwright but Robinson curled his effort past the post.
Sampson played a ball across the face of the goal with only a touch required before two goals inside three minutes effectively cemented Ashington their victory.
The first came in the 66th minute when Sampson played a lovely weighted through pass for Harmison who slotted home wide of advancing ‘keeper Craig Ellison.
Cartwright then struck a venomous free-kick from 30 yards which was spilled by Ellison and Spooner pounced onto the rebound to rifle the ball inside the net.
It had been a warm afternoon in Derbyshire but for the final 20 plus minutes, the heavens opened and the remainder of the game was played out in monsoon conditions.
During that time, Ashington ‘keeper Karl Dryden was called into action making a brilliant point-blank save from a header following a Glossop corner.
The final whistle sparked off jubilant scenes as the Ashington players and management raced over to where the majority of their supporters were standing to celebrate with them.