|Sat 12/9/2020||3:00 pm||FA Cup||2020-21||119|
(*) – West Auckland Town won 3-0 on penalties.
By Brian Bennett
They say it never rains but it pours …… Ashington’s hopes of reversing the trend of results from away games against Stockton Town and West Auckland failed miserably within the space of four days last week.
Although the Colliers put up a spirited display at Stockton, they are still searching for a win after seven visits, going down to a what was a harsh 3-0 scoreline. On Saturday Ian Skinner took his squad to the Wanted Stadium to face West Auckland – a venue where Ashington, ahead of the clash, were still looking to break their duck of wins, having mustered three draws and lost eight from 11 clashes. But again it wasn’t to be.
Instead it was heartbreak as they were the better side in the second half and came back from being 2-1 and 3-2 down to force a draw – but then lost after a penalty shoot out. It was cruel…so cruel. Yet the early exchanges could so easily have seen West out of sight as they repeatedly got in behind the Colliers defence inside the opening 20 minutes. The first chance – and clear cut one at that – came after only five minutes when Jordan Blinco had a one-on-one with only Adam McHugh to beat but saw the ‘keeper block his effort for a corner and from it, McHugh again kept West at bay. Ashington’s first sniff arrived in the 12th minute when Thomas Kalthoeber and Dean Briggs featured to set up Dan Cranston but he delayed his shot and was snuffed out.
On the quarter hour, the home side had a glorious opportunity to go in front – from the spot. Full back Liam Hegarty ventured into the area where he was clipped by Max Emmerson and referee Grant Cuthbertson awarded a penalty. Anthony Bell stepped forward to take the kick but was thwarted by McHugh who made a brilliant save low down to his right to turn the ball aside. Blinco drove wide before West got to the by line again but the cross was intercepted.
Minutes later – at the midway stage of the half – Ashington boss Ian Skinner made a substitution replacing Owen Gourley with Lewis Robson and switching Elliot Tate to the middle of the defence. Ten minutes before half time, Kalthoeber and Briggs combined but when the latter crossed into the danger zone, the ball was hacked away. Briggs was beginning to be a threat and after having one shot deflected behind, the youngster put his side into a shock 41st minute lead with a stunning individual effort. He ran from the half way line, skipping past two challenges and then after moving into the area, drove left footed across ‘keeper Thomas Flynn and into the corner of the net.
But the old cliché of a side never being more vulnerable after scoring reared its head again as West were back on terms barely sixty seconds later when Blinco was allowed time to fire wide of McHugh from the edge of the box. And amazingly, the hosts were in front a mere 50 seconds into the second half.
They had introduced Kyle Fryatt for Mason Hurworth for the start of the period and after Ashington had conceded a needless corner on the right, Michael Hoganson’s accurate delivery with pace on it found Fryatt whose effort went into the roof of the net despite a last ditch attempt by the visitors defence to clear. The goal sparked a response from Ian Skinner’s side with Briggs a constant menace. The midfielder crossed where Cranston fluffed his lines inside the box and after Tom Bramley had headed over a corner from the right, it was Briggs who instigated an Ashington leveller shy of the hour mark. His darting run to the by line saw him cross and when Flynn pushed out his cross, the ball fell to Lee Scott who smashed it into the back of the net. Now level at two goals apiece, a massive turning point arrived shortly afterwards when Briggs was nudged in the back and went to ground inside the area but penalty appeals were unanswered by the match referee. Sixty seconds on and a 20 yards free-kick by Max Cowburn took a deflection and was pushed away by Flynn then in the 61st minute of this action packed encounter, West went back in front.
They built up through the middle and when the ball found Adam Mitchell, his exquisite right foot curler from the edge of the area gave McHugh no chance. However, maximum credit to Ashington who quite simply refused to feel sorry for themselves – and within five minutes, a restart by McHugh found Briggs who lobbed goalwards over the advancing Flynn but the ball was cleared off the line. Then in the 78th minute – and deservedly so – the Colliers got an equaliser from who else but the irrepressible Briggs who latched onto a cross from Elliot Tate and finished with aplomb from eight yards. Ashington could not find another way through …… then came the agonising penalty shoot out. West scored their first three kicks through Blinco, Callum Patton and Hoganson but when Scott smashed his kick against the bar and David Luke and Cowburn both had their efforts saved by Flynn, the Colliers were out.
Ashington: McHugh, Tate, Kalthoeber (Taylor 71 minutes), Emmerson, Gourley (Robson 23 minutes), Bramley, Cowburn, Luke, Scott, Briggs, Cranston (Ross 71 minutes)
Subs not used: Anderson, Slater, Hall (gk).