By Brian Bennett
Ashington stretched their unbeaten run to four matches when they deservedly picked up a share of the spoils from their clash against local rivals North Shields at the Daren Persson Stadium on Saturday.
The difficult windy conditions was the over-riding reason for what turned out to be a low key and tame encounter – but this young Colliers side are improving week by week and with Whitley Bay going down 2-1 at home to Sunderland RCA and Seaham Red Star without a fixture, Ian Skinner’s side climbed two places up to 14th in the Ebac Northern League’s first division table.
The team boss made two changes from the side that had fought back to claim a 1-1 draw against RCA in midweek with skipper Curtis Coppen and Brandon Slater returning to the starting line up.
The Robins were on the attack from the first whistle, breaking into the Ashington penalty area but the ball was cleared and the visitors immediately went down to the other end with a cross from the right by Callum Johnston played behind the incoming Dan Taggart. Ashington’s promising start continued and in the sixth minute a low right footer by Dom Price was only a whisker away with home ‘keeper Greg Purvis at full stretch diving to his left. On the quarter hour, Gary Ormston unleashed a sizzling effort which went just over and later in the half, the midfielder met a corner from the right to direct a thumping header which was cleared off the line by ‘keeper Adam McHugh. Sandwiched in-between, Price fed the ball through for Slater who cut inside but his effort lacked power and Purvis held with ease.
In the 37th minute, the Shieldsmen surged forward and Smith was just off target then Patton had a chance but was well blocked. On the stroke of the interval, Price slipped a pass through for David Luke who took the ball past Purvis but over-ran it then the final action of the half saw Johnston’s corner on the right which was caught by the wind, clip the top of the crossbar.
Early doors in the second half, Smith drove a speculative effort wide and Patton was foiled by McHugh before Ashington had a good spell which began with appeals for a penalty turned down by referee Derric Wade after Slater had gone to ground in the area. Home full back Nick Cassidy made a superb block to thwart Slater following a cross by Thomas Kalthoeber and midway through the period, only the woodwork denied the menacing Slater after he had cut inside two defenders from the left but saw his shot smack against the base of the post with Purvis beaten.
A big talking point occurred ten minutes from time. Smith nudged the ball past McHugh as the ‘keeper tried to clear just outside the area. The stopper missed his attempted connection and caught Smith with substitute Gareth Bainbridge tapping home after the ball had stuck the post – but the referee had already blown for a free-kick and the ‘goal’ did not count.
Shields thought McHugh should have seen red – he was yellow carded – and Bainbridge put the restart wide of the upright.
The Wansbeck side survived a couple of late scares before preserving a third clean sheet from their last four outings.
|Northern League - Division 1
|Daren Persson Stadium