Competition: Northern League - Division 1

Bishop Auckland vs Ashington

By Brian Bennett

A brilliant second half performance by Ashington saw them book a play off place and secure a second from top finish in their Ebac Northern League first division season after a tense and nervy 1-1 draw against Bishop Auckland at the AJS Joinery Stadium.

At this stage, the Colliers do not know who they will face this Saturday – only that the tie will be away – with a decision expected to be communicated to them by the Football Association on Wednesday.

In a prestigious game where the hosts had to win – whilst a draw would be enough for the Colliers – the Wansbeck outfit trailed to a disputed penalty in the first half but got back on terms on the hour after Andrew Cartwright had converted a spot kick.

However on a day where the result was the be all and end all, Ian Skinner’s outfit were the better footballing side in the second period and indeed would have been worthy winners had they added to their tally.

They missed opportunities – but as they valiantly tried to nudge ahead, were also thwarted by Bishops ‘keeper Ryan Catterick who pulled off four top drawer saves.

Heavy and incessant overnight rain had cast a doubt over the fixture but excellent work by the ground staff ensured that the much anticipated clash got the thumbs up from referee Kieran Graham.

Before kick-off, the players, officials and supporters observed a minute’s silence in memory of Bishops stalwart Dick Longstaff.

When the action started, the first incident of note saw home striker Louis Johnson replaced by Wayne Whitfield after he pulled up with a knee injury.

In the eighth minute, the two blues won a corner on the right and when Craig Gott found Dale Hopson on the edge of the box, he fired off target.

Ashington responded immediately with Cartwright slipping the ball through for Scott Heslop but his cross was intercepted then a free kick by Craig Spooner from 25 yards flew over the bar.

Just over the half way point, Paul Robinson and Heslop combined to set up Spooner who turned but saw his shot go wide.

Then on the half hour came a moment of controversy when Robbie Dale appeared to pull out of a challenge on Dean Thexton inside the area but the forward went to ground and the referee pointed to the spot.

Gott sent Karl Dryden the wrong way from the resultant penalty and to make matters worse, Cartwright spoke out of turn and was sent to the sin bin for ten minutes.

Robinson looked to be in a promising position inside the area but his shot was blocked then just before the break, Dane Burlace pulled the ball back where Marcus Giles lashed over.

The Colliers had 45 minutes left to address the deficit – and they were straight out of the blocks from the first whistle of the second period.

Ryan McKinnon replaced the injured Dale and two minutes in, Ashington carved out a glorious chance.

A ball down the line by Robinson found Jordan Summerly and from his cross Harmison directed a header straight at Catterick who fisted the ball away.

Robinson and Spooner exchanged a one-two which ended with the former’s shot being deflected wide then a pass by McKinnon found Spooner who fed Heslop but from his cross, Harmison dragged his shot wide from 12 yards.

Ben Sampson cleared from the danger area following a Bishops corner then Heslop had a deflected effort which spun into Catterick’s arms.

Just past the hour mark, Ashington got the equaliser they had been searching for.

Darren Lough’s ball into the area saw Heslop sent sprawling to the ground by a defender’s challenge and the referee awarded another penalty with Cartwright stepping forward and sending Catterick in the opposite direction.

Ashington continued to dominate, playing some fine constructive football into the bargain. Five minutes later, Summerly fed Heslop whose dipping 25 yarder was superbly tipped onto the bar by Catterick.

Ashington went at full throttle as they tried for a second and with 20 minutes remaining, substitute Dan Maguire tried his luck from distance but the effort went straight down Catterick’s throat.

As the clock ticked down, supporters on both sides felt the tension but the visitors defended superbly and then in the 89th minute, it was Catterick again, diving low to his right who kept out a 30 yards free kick by Cartwright which was sneaking inside the post.

There was a blow for Ashington in stoppage time when defender Darren Lough sustained a facial injury and was replaced by Damen Mullen.

Then came the final whistle …… which saw Ashington deservedly clinch their place in the play off.


Tow Law Town vs Ashington

By Brian Bennett  |  Photos: Ian Brodie

Ben Harmison notched his second hat trick of the season as Ashington went on a goal scoring spree after hitting six against Tow Law at the Ironworks Ground on Tuesday night.

The result saw the Colliers move back into second place in the first division of the Ebac Northern League, two points ahead of Bishop Auckland.

Now the stage is all set for what promises to be a fascinating contest on Saturday (April 22) when the Wansbeck side travel to face Bishops at Heritage Park with a play off place up for grabs.

In what was a tenacious, dominant and high energy display by Ian Skinner’s side, the victory over the Lawyers was never in any doubt after Harmison had hit a quickfire double inside the opening quarter hour.

Ashington hit the straps from the first whistle and after a snapshot by Craig Spooner had gone narrowly over ‘keeper Thomas Orton’s crossbar, the opener followed shortly after in the eighth minute.

Ben Sampson played a diagonal pass out to the right flank where the overlapping Andrew Cartwright swung over a cross which was majestically headed inside the corner of the net by Harmison.

The lead was doubled just shy of the quarter hour mark when Ashington profited after a scintillating move.

Paul Robinson found Jordan Summerly down the left and when the full back crossed to the far post, the ball was headed back by Scott Heslop for Harmison who side footed home on the half volley.

Ashington created more chances with Spooner having a shot saved by Orton; Harmison stroking an instinctive effort just wide then Heslop heading off target.

The visitors had been rampant and they added a third in the 27th minute courtesy of another high quality strike from the irrepressible Paul Robinson.

The midfielder picked up possession and from 22 yards, smashed a left footer which left Orton grasping thin air as it rocketed past him and into the roof of the net.

Ashington started the second half as they had the first – and inside two minutes, were awarded a spot kick by referee Ryan Moore when Harmison was sent sprawling following an intricate move.

Harmison stepped up and duly completed his hat-trick. Orton got a hand to the penalty but it had enough purchase on it to nestle inside the corner.

As the half wore on, Ashington manager Ian Skinner utilised his substitutes and seven minutes after being introduced, Lee Mason latched onto on an excellent cross from Harmison and buried a right footer past Orton.

Five minutes later, Summerly also found the back of the net but the score was ruled out for offside before Tow Law almost grabbed a consolation when an effort from distance by Mathew Robson shaved the bar.

However the game ended with the Colliers taking their tally to an impressive six.

Harmison was again involved finding Summerly down the left and when he crossed, Karl Ross steered the ball wide of Orton.

18 April 2023 – Tow Law Town FC v. Ashington AFC


Ashington vs Thornaby

By Brian Bennett  |  Photography: Ian Brodie

Ashington bounced back following their narrow 1-0 defeat against Whitley Bay on Good Friday by recording a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Thornaby at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.

On a beautiful spring afternoon in Wansbeck, two goals from Craig Spooner and one from Paul Robinson accounted for the Teessiders – and the scoreline could have been more emphatic, possibly into double figures, had it not been for an outstanding display by goalkeeper Robert Dean who made some astonishing saves.

The result was the perfect tonic for the Wansbeck outfit after manager Ian Skinner had labelled the match as a ‘must win’ encounter whilst defeat saw Thornaby relegated to the second division of the Ebac Northern League.

Ashington groundsman Scott Robson had the pitch looking a picture with a circular cut field and after only 90 seconds, Dan Maguire – who was to play an integral part in proceedings – played a ball across the face of the goal.

Home supporters were left gasping in the sixth minute as Paul Robinson came within inches of scoring what would have been one of the best ever goals seen at the ground.

Dean slipped whilst launching a clearance and when the ball fell to Robinson, the midfielder struck a lob from the half way line which sailed over the stopper but bounced inside the six yards box and just over the bar. It was an effort which drew rapturous applause from the crowd whilst Robinson afforded a wry smile!

But home supporters didn’t have to wait much longer for their side to edge ahead as Spooner struck in the tenth minute.

Maguire did the spadework with excellent work on the right and when he rolled the ball across the edge of the penalty area, Spooner applied a left footed finish wide of Dean and into the corner of the net.

Two minutes later, Maguire had a shot blocked before a cross by Robbie Dale found Scott Heslop whose header was pushed aside by Dean.

Spooner shanked an effort wide then he was involved in a swift one-two with Maguire which ended with the striker’s right footer flashing narrowly wide.

The Colliers started the second period in identical fashion to the first – on the front foot.

Within the first 30 seconds, Ben Sampson slipped the ball out wide to Andrew Cartwright and when he crossed, Daniel Flounders was happy to turn it behind for a corner.

Incredibly twice within the space of 90 seconds, Maguire put the ball across the face of the goal before Dean denied Spooner.

However in the 57th minute, it was Spooner who doubled his sides lead with his second goal of the contest.

Maguire was again the supplier, laying the ball off for the midfielder whose brilliantly struck effort arced away from the despairing hands of Dean before nestling inside the corner of the net.

Five minutes later, Maguire made it a hat-trick of assists, as Ashington moved into a 3-0 lead. He found Robinson on the left and the ex Whitley Bay weaved inside and out then fired home.

In the 71st minute, Dean continued to perform heroics when he made a double save to deny substitutes Dean Briggs and Lee Mason.

Robinson was next to shake his head in disbelief after the ‘keeper had somehow pushed an effort from him over the bar then after a great run by Dale, the ex Blyth legend and sub Ben Harmison were also thwarted by the stopper.

15 April 2023 - Ashington AFC v. Thornaby FC


Whitley Bay vs Ashington

By Brian Bennett  |  Match Gallery: Ian Brodie

Whitley Bay took all three points from this top of the table clash against Ashington at Hillheads Park on Good Friday with a goal scored by Elliott Day in first half stoppage time.

The Colliers went into the contest knowing that if they won, it would strengthen their own promotion hopes whilst at the same time bringing the Seahorses challenge to an end.

However as the league table stands with just under a fortnight of the campaign remaining, there are still several permutations possible.

Newton Aycliffe remain favourites to win the title with Bishop Auckland, Ashington and Whitley Bay vying for the play off spot.

On a pleasant spring afternoon, there was a good representation of Ashington supporters in the crowd on 783 – but they went home disappointed after seeing their side tumble to a second defeat in three matches.

Ashington started the brighter outfit and after only three minutes, Ben Sampson, Craig Spooner, Lee Mason and Lewis Suddick linked up well with the latter seeing his cross blocked at the near post for a corner.

Minutes later skipper Darren Lough, Dean Briggs and Dan Maguire worked a move down the left but it ended with home ‘keeper Dan Lister easily gathering a shot from Maguire which lacked power.

Whitley’s first threat came on the quarter hour when Bailey Geliher crossed for Mark Davison who headed wide.

Midway through, Mason played the ball through and it was Day who made a terrific tackle in the area to halt Suddick.

Suddick then let fly from 25 yards with a free kick which flashed narrowly wide before the home side broke the deadlock in the second minute of time added on for stoppages.

Following a corner on the right, the ball was recycled with former Collier Ben Richardson floating it into the danger area for Day who planted a firm header back across goal and inside the corner of the net with ‘keeper Karl Dryden rooted to the spot.

After a pretty mundane first period, the action at the start of the second half was intense.

Dryden held an effort from Josh Gilchrist; Spooner had a golden opportunity at the other end but fired over then a drive by Gilchrist was superbly turned aside by Dryden diving low to his right.

Ashington manager Ian Skinner gradually introduced his full compliment of substitutes and Adam Johnson – one of the five – played a ball through for Maguire.

The striker’s effort was blocked by Lister but Johnson blasted over the rebound. Another sub Scott Heslop had a shot pushed away by the home stopper before there was controversy in the 81st minute which left the visitors fuming.

Sampson poked the ball away from a defender who clattered into him inside the area which sent the midfielder tumbling to the ground but referee David Mitchell turned down the Colliers’ appeals for a penalty – and when Sampson spoke to the official, he was sent to the sin bin for ten minutes.

In the 83rd minute, Whitley almost put the game to bed when Geliher found Davison but his drive went inches wide of Dryden’s right hand post.

Even before they were reduced in number, Ashington had appeared to run out of ideas but they nevertheless kept going right until the end of the seven minutes of time which was added on.

07 April 2023 - Whitley Bay FC v. Ashington AFC


Ashington vs Pickering Town

By Brian Bennett  |  Photos: Ian Brodie

A brilliant strike by Lee Mason gave Ashington three crucial points in their quest for promotion against basement side Pickering Town at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.

And the importance Mason’s goal – which came shortly before half time – was even more significant with close rivals Bishop Auckland and Whitley Bay both tasting defeat against Carlisle City and Northallerton Town respectively.

Consequently, the Colliers leapfrogged over Bishops into second place and have a game in hand on the County Durham side as the clamour at the top of the Ebac Northern League’s first division heads towards a grand climax.

On a chilly afternoon in Wansbeck, the one piece of quality by Mason shone like a beacon in what was an uninspiring and dour affair played out on a heavy pitch.

In fairness the home side went in search of the opener but far too often passes went astray.

The first sniff of an opportunity came in the 12th minute when Craig Spooner played the ball through for Mason but his touch was just too heavy and his shot was held by ‘keeper Quinaceo Hunt.

Ashington continued to probe, dominating possession and midway through the period, a move involving Karl Ross, Ben Sampson and Mason ended with Spooner lifting the ball over from eight yards.

Ten minutes later, a free kick from 25 yards by Spooner cleared the bar then with half time approaching, the visitors had their first chance when Keelan Grist’s effort was tipped over by home stopper Karl Dryden.

What was to be the all important goal arrived in the 44th minute. Ashington broke from a Pickering corner and when Dan Maguire was fouled, referee Lewis Marriner played a brilliant advantage.

Maguire managed to play the ball through for Mason who twisted and turned inside the area before he struck a fierce right footed effort from a tight angle which crashed into the net via the underside of the crossbar.

After the break, Ashington continued to look for a second.

In the 51st minute, Damen Mullen, Sampson and Ross linked well but the move fizzled out with Hunt intercepting then just past the hour mark, Sampson and Robbie Dale worked a corner on the left to find Jordan Summerly who skipped past a defender but his drive was pushed out by Hunt.

And it was the ‘keeper who again denied the Colliers towards the end of normal time when he touched over a header by Sampson from a cross from substitute Lewis Suddick.

Ashington now make the short trip down the coast to face Whitley Bay at Hillheads on Good Friday (April 7) where kick off is 12 noon.

01 April 2023 - Ashington AFC v. Pickering Town FC


Whickham vs Ashington

By Brian Bennett  |  Photos: Ian Brodie

Ashington suffered a blow to their promotion hopes when Tom Romano slotted home a stoppage time winner for Whickham at the First Mortgage Glebe Stadium on Tuesday night.

For the neutral it was an exciting contest which went one way then the other but for the Colliers, who trailed league leaders Newton Aycliffe by three points, it was the game in hand they had over the County Durham side who now remain in pole position.

For the umpteenth time this season, it was the proverbial game of two halves. Ashington were bright and dominant in the first period and although they deservedly reached the break one goal to the good through Karl Ross, the lead should have been more.

Then second half, the Lang Jacks – kicking with the slope – were the better outfit giving everything they had in terms of work rate and desire. After scoring a controversial equaliser within minutes at the start of the second half, they netted twice on the counter to seal the points whilst Ashington’s recent newcomer Scott Heslop grabbed his first goal for the club on his full debut which at the time brought the scores level at 2-2.

And it was Heslop who caused the home side all sorts of problems particularly in the early stages.

In the sixth minute, he fired wide then on the quarter hour, met a cross from Ben Sampson to direct a brilliant header which thudded against the angle of post and crossbar.

Heslop was a constant livewire and later he drove narrowly over on the turn before he struck another effort which was deflected then turned around by ‘keeper Nicky Liversedge.

Lewis Suddick was next to fire off target after he met a cross by Ross before the home side registered their first shot after the half way mark with Robson well wide. Seconds later, Romano looked to be closing in on goal until he was stopped in his tracks by a great tackle from Robbie Dale.

Back came Ashington and after Lewis Suddick had exchanged a couple of one-two’s with Heslop, he shot wide.

But the goal which Ashington had warranted eventually came in the 32nd minute.

Initially the ball was played from the right, Ben Harmison got a foot to it to set up Jordan Summerly whose driven cross was blocked but the ball ran out to Karl Ross who clipped an effort inside the corner of the net on the half volley.

The Colliers deservedly led at the interval – but those missed chances were to come back and bite them.

There have also been moments of controversy in the last few games for the Wansbeck side and early in the second period, came another huge talking point which resulted in Whickham’s equaliser.

Darren Lough thought he had ushered the ball out for a goal kick but with no flag from the assistant, Romano picked up possession, cut across and slotted past ‘keeper Karl Dryden.
Minutes later, the Colliers were appealing for a foul which was not given and Dan Turner flashed a shot wide.

At the other end, Harmison met a cross by Summerly to send a left footed volley past the upright.

Ashington’s defence were having their work cut out by the lively Whickham front line – in particular Robson – and midway through, the centre forward cut inside then drove an effort narrowly wide.

Within seconds, the home side forced a corner on the left and Ross Peareth was not far away.

Then in the 72nd minute Whickham took the lead.

Ashington were exposed on the break and who else but Robson made them pay the penalty when his pace took him through and after side stepping Dryden, he slotted home.

Three minutes later, it was Robson again down the right who set up Romano but Dryden saved superbly blocking the ball with his legs.

In the 78th minute, the Colliers got back on level terms.

A move started in midfield by Dale ended when a cross from the left by Ross was turned in by Heslop.

Minutes later, Sampson found substitute Craig Spooner who had a great opening but fired over.

In the second minute of time added on for stoppages, the Ashington defence were caught out again and when the ball was played across, Romano hammered home what proved to be the winner.

28 March 2023 - Whickham FC v. Ashington AFC


Ashington vs Newton Aycliffe

By Brian Bennett

It was billed as the ‘Match of the Day’ in the Ebac Northern League on ‘Non League Day’ – and leaders Newton Aycliffe and second placed Ashington didn’t disappoint as they played out an intriguing 1-1 draw in front of a bumper crowd of 941 at Woodhorn Lane.

Only three weeks ago, the corresponding clash between the two sides had seen the Newtonians run out 4-1 winners in a game which also saw both outfits reduced to ten men.

On Saturday it was deja vu – with Colliers defender Darren Lough seeing red in the 65th minute and Aycliffe’s influential midfielder Ethan Wood receiving his marching orders for a second yellow card as the game approached the final ten minutes.

The visitors started the better and on the quarter hour mark home ‘keeper Karl Dryden was called into action diving to his left to push away a goalbound effort from Liam Adamson.

Three minutes later Colliers skipper Ben Harmison spurned a glorious opening.

Robbie Dale swung over a deep cross from the right but Harmison – after peeling away from his marker – shanked a half volley wide.

Now it was Ashington’s turn to be in the ascendency and seconds later, Harmison glanced the ball on but Dan Maguire snatched at the opportunity and his effort went past the same upright.

Midway through Craig Spooner capitalised on an error by an Aycliffe defender and advanced before seeing his shot pushed away by former Colliers stopper Adam McHugh.

The home side ramped up the pressure forcing four corners in succession with McHugh forced to push away an in-swinger from Andrew Cartwright before Harmison headed over from the last.

Dean Briggs curled wide then Adamson found Kyle Davis whose shot was off target.

In stoppage time, Ashington went ahead.

A deep free kick by Lough saw Maguire’s shot parried by McHugh but Harmison was on hand to smash home the rebound from close range.

In the opening minute of the second half, a great through ball by Cartwright found Maguire but the move ended with Briggs directing a tame shot at McHugh.

Shortly afterwards, an error in the home defence saw Jack Naylor’s effort crucially saved with his legs by Dryden then Adamson fired over.

Aycliffe had come out all guns blazing as they took the game to their opponents and the home goal survived after a corner from the right went across the face of the goal and out for a goal kick.

Then a turning point arrived in the 65th minute.

Referee Lewis Hardy blew for a handball against Lough and also sent the defender off before Liam Jarvie stepped up to send Dryden the wrong way from the resultant penalty which brought the scores level.

Ten minutes later, Dryden parried an effort from Wood and Naylor netted from the rebound but the goal was disallowed for offside.

Briggs cut inside to curl an effort from the edge of the box just wide before Aycliffe were also reduced in number when Wood received a second yellow followed by a red after stopping a promising run through the middle by Dale.

The finale was nervy and cagey – and the third minute of time added on saw Ashington go close. Dale found Cartwright down the right and from his cross, substitute Scott Heslop headed just over.

At the start of the day, the County Durham side were three points in front of the Colliers having played a game more – but the 1-1 draw saw Bishop Auckland leapfrog over the Wansbeck side following their 5-1 win against Sunderland RCA.

25 March 2023 - Ashington AFC v. Newton Aycliffe FC


Redcar Athletic vs Ashington

By Brian Bennett

Ashington produced one of their best performances of the season to comfortably brush Redcar Athletic aside at Green Lane on Saturday.

Goals from Dan Maguire, Darren Lough and substitute Lee Mason accounted for the Steelmen who went into the clash with four consecutive wins behind them.

Newton Aycliffe – who topped the division beforehand – saw their match at home to West Allotment Celtic subject of a late call off after torrential rain and consequently Ashington’s victory saw the Colliers go joint top of the division, only separated by goal difference.

However, whilst the Wansbeck outfit have no fixture in midweek, third placed Bishop Auckland who are one point behind, are at home to Whickham on Tuesday and Aycliffe travel to face Crook Town the following night so the situation could change again!

Nevertheless, Ashington’s home clash against Newton Aycliffe on Saturday (March 25) promises to be a real humdinger with a bumper crowd expected at Woodhorn Lane on Non League Day.

On a mild afternoon on the Yorkshire coast, Ian Skinner’s side started well. With only 90 seconds on the clock, Dean Briggs fed the over lapping Jordan Summerly down the left and the full back put over a first time ball which went begging after flashing across the face of goal.

Minutes later, it was Summerly again who provided a deep cross which was well defended by James Paylor at the far post, who headed the ball behind for a corner with Ben Harmison ready to pounce.

In the ninth minute, the visitors deservedly opened the scoring. Home ‘keeper Jack Norton made a hash of a clearance which fell to Briggs. He passed forward to Maguire and the striker advanced before curling a sweet right footer from the edge of the area into the corner of the net.

Ashington continued to have the upper hand and it was past the half hour mark before Redcar had their first shot at goal with Craig Hutchinson clipping a left foot effort wide from 20 yards.

Ahead of the break, Maguire played Craig Spooner through but his effort was turned over by Norton.

Ashington began the second half in identical fashion to the first. Within the opening minute, Harmison hooked on a throw in by Andrew Cartwright which released Briggs but after cutting inside, his effort was held by Norton.

Seven minutes in, Redcar were reduced to ten men when midfielder Reece Kenney – who had been booked in the first period – stopped a promising attack on the half way line as he fouled Briggs and was shown a second yellow card followed by a red by referee Barry Tones.

Ashington tried to press home their advantage which started when Robbie Dale’s through pass found Maguire who crossed but Harmison missed connecting by millimetres. After that, Briggs had an effort deflected whilst Lough, Maguire and Cartwright all narrowly missed the target.

Midway through, Ashington almost pressed the self destruct button as they tried to play out from the back.

They lost possession and ‘keeper Karl Dryden – after initially parrying a shot from Hutchinson – moved swiftly to brilliantly block the follow up effort from Brandon Holdsworth.

Norton denied Maguire and Briggs but there was nothing the stopper could do in the 74th minute as Lough gave the Colliers a two goals cushion.

Harmison glanced on a corner from the right by Cartwright and Lough – at the far post – headed home.

And things just got better and better as ten minutes later, Mason finished off an excellent team goal.

Cartwright and Spooner were involved at the beginning of the move before Sampson played the ball through for Spooner whose cross from near the by line saw Mason apply the finishing touch.

In stoppage time, Norton blocked from Mason then the ‘keeper saved in spectacular fashion to deny substitute Karl Ross.


Ashington vs Guisborough Town

By Brian Bennett  |  Photo Gallery: Ian Brodie

Ashington left it late before a header from skipper Ben Harmison saw them deservedly secure all three points against Guisborough Town at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.

In what was a high drama crescendo to the game, Harmison’s clincher came in the last minute of the 90 – seconds after Guisborough ‘keeper Will Cowey had saved a penalty from Damen Mullen.

Harmison – sent off the previous week at Newton Aycliffe – would have started a suspension but in midweek the Colliers were successful after lodging an appeal, which meant the striker was free to play.

The result saw the Wansbeck outfit pick up their sixth double of the season and after an identical score line over the Priorymen last month, it was a similarly hard fought contest.

Indeed, the visitors got into their stride from the first whistle and could have been two goals to the good inside the opening ten minutes.

Striker Jack Blackford had an effort pushed away by home ‘keeper Karl Dryden then Michael McGee was clean through but Dryden again came to his sides’ rescue as he stood firm to foil him by saving with his foot.

Ashington’s first threat came in the 12th minute when Ben Sampson and Dan Maguire combined but when the latter laid the ball into the path of Craig Spooner, Callum Martin nipped in to whip the ball off his toes.

Robbie Dale made a crucial tackle on the by line to halt McGee and from the resultant corner on the left by Shaaban Mohammed, Blackford’s effort from the edge of the area struck the bar.

Midway through the half, Ashington thought they had broken the deadlock – until the goal was controversially ruled out.

Andrew Cartwright’s deep cross from the right was headed back across by Maguire and Harmison lashed the ball into the net – but after consulting with his assistant, referee David Carr disallowed the score for a handling offence which left home supporters bemused.

Ashington had struggled especially in the final third then in time added on, Sampson found Harmison and when he set up Cartwright, the defender’s effort was deflected for a corner.

Minutes into the second period, an excellent tackle in the area by Ryan McKinnon stopped Blackford then when play switched to the other end, Sampson put Dean Briggs through the middle but his low right footer was tipped away by Cowey.

In the 52nd minute, McGee ran through and saw Dryden deflect his shot against the foot of the post then shortly afterwards, the home stopper was called into action again to hold a drive from Blackford.

On the hour, Spooner – after receiving the ball from Mullen – skipped past a defender on a promising run but fired wide of Cowey’s right hand post.

Home boss Ian Skinner had introduced Paul Robinson and the experienced midfielder was certainly influential in the last 35 minutes.

His first piece of action was to find Sampson who lifted the ball through to Maguire whose shot was blocked.

In a grandstand finale Guisborough found Harmison too hot to handle.

On 81 minutes, Mullen and Spooner were involved in a slick combination and when the ball was played to Harmison, his audacious first time volley from 35 yards flashed narrowly wide of the post.

Karl Ross had also been thrust into the fray and within seconds of his introduction, the sub played the ball out wide to the over lapping Cartwright and when he crossed, Harmison’s powerful header smacked against the bar.

Sixty seconds later, Ashington – roared on by their fanatical supporters – created again with Harmison heading over from a Summerly cross then in the 88th minute, Robinson went down in the area after a challenge by a defender and the nearside assistant flagged for a foul.

Referee Carr duly pointed to the spot but Mullen’s penalty was parried by Cowey.

However, Spooner seized on the rebound and when he crossed from the by line, Harmison send a bullet-like header into the roof of the net from close range.

Incredibly, the non stop action continued until the final whistle.

In the third minute of time added on for stoppages, Guisborough were awarded a free kick inches outside the area and Mohammed’s effort went narrowly past the post.

Then on the break, home sub Adam Johnson skipped past two defenders but chipped wide as Cowey advanced.

11 March 2023 - Ashington AFC v. Guisborough Town FC


Newton Aycliffe vs Ashington

By Brian Bennett

Ashington missed an opportunity to go to the top of the first division of the Ebac Northern League on Saturday when a late show by current leaders Newton Aycliffe saw them run out 4-1 winners at the SecuriCorp Stadium.

Two goals in the final ten minutes from substitute Jack Clarkson and Ethan Wood cemented the victory for the hosts but the final scoreline was undoubtedly harsh on a Colliers side who had gone into the contest boasting eight wins from their last nine games.

It was a highly anticipated tussle and deservedly dressed up as a top billing clash – Aycliffe against second in the table Ashington – but the whole complexion of the match changed on the quarter hour when Colliers skipper Ben Harmison was red carded.

Ashington – through poor defending – were already trailing to a goal in the fifth minute after a cross from the by line by Liam Jarvie was headed in at the back post by Jack Naylor.

The game went flat before a 30 yarder by Wood was tipped over by Karl Dryden and five minutes later, the stopper made a double block from Jarvie and Joseph Smith.

In the 38th minute, Aycliffe doubled their lead when Smith played the ball across for Liam Adamson who made no mistake.

Shortly afterwards, the Colliers were handed a lifeline.

Oscar Eckley-Aldsworth was sent off following a tackle on Jordan Summerly just inside the Aycliffe half and after a delay whilst the full back received treatment, the free kick was played to Dan Maguire who lashed the ball home from 20 yards.

Ashington were now in the ascendancy and consequently the half time whistle came as a relief for the home side.

Early doors after the break, Dryden gathered well from a shot by Wood then Maguire played the ball square to Ben Sampson but he blazed over.

Another key turning point arrived in the 55th minute when a low shot by Maguire took a deflection off Dean Briggs and rolled along the goal-line before going out for a goal kick.

That was as good as it got for the Colliers whilst their opponents came on strongly in the final quarter hour.

Sub Clarkson rolled a ball across the face with Adamson just missing out then Naylor drove wide.

But with eight minutes of the 90 left, Clarkson cut across from left to right and rifled in a decisive third for Aycliffe.

And in the third minute of time added on, a clever flick by sub Charlie Dawson set up Wood who curled a superb effort wide of Dryden and inside the far corner of the net.