League: Northern League - Division 1

Crook Town vs Ashington

By Brian Bennett

Ashington FC’s Danny Anderson had called on his team mates to be more consistent following the thrilling 3-3 draw with league leaders Consett seven days ago.

However, on Saturday, Anderson was in the midfield department and witnessed at first hand an Ashington display which tumbled from being red hot the previous week to cold as they went down to a 4-0 defeat at Crook Town at the Sir Tom Cowie Millfield.

It was the fourth reverse out of their last five away trips for the Wansbeck outfit but despite being out of sorts, the scoreline yet again paints a false picture as Ian Skinner’s side hit the woodwork on no fewer than four occasions during the contest and dominated possession during the second half.

Crook – who had looked a good side when the two sides met at Woodhorn Lane in the middle of last month (ironically when the Colliers were 4-0 victors) – deserved their success on the day hitting Ashington with body blows at crucial stages especially after the interval.

The visitors came close to taking the lead in the fifth minute with what would have been an identical opening goal from Craig Spooner from the previous week.

Adam Johnson found Luke Salmon down the left and when he crossed, Spooner directed his header wide of ‘keeper Ronan Makepeace’s left hand post.

It was the first of several game changing incidents as four minutes later Jamie Nash beat two defenders as he ventured into the Ashington area and when his venomous low right footer was pushed out by ‘keeper Adam McHugh, Ewan Forster blasted home the rebound from six yards.

Minutes later, a free kick from 20 yards from Max Cowburn was finger tipped onto the bar by Makepeace and cleared then midway through the period, an Anderson free-kick to the far post was headed wide by Ben Harmison.

Anderson tried an audacious effort from 35 yards which dipped just over after spotting Makepeace off his line then Johnson and Spooner combined down the left until the latter’s cross intended for Johnson was intercepted by a defender.

With half time approaching, Salmon came close to an equaliser after pressing the Crook back line.

He tenaciously won the ball and after playing a one-two with Spooner unleashed a power drive which thudded against the underside of the bar and was cleared.

But right on the stroke of the interval, McHugh was called upon to block superbly from Edward Thomas and as the striker followed up Karl Ross thwarted him with a block tackle.

Five minutes into the second half, Cowburn crossed from the right where Salmon’s first time effort from the edge of the area rebounded off the base of the post.

Within forty five seconds, Ashington were 2-0 down as Crook hit them on the counter. Thomas’s initial shot was blocked by Yannick Aziakonou but the ball ran straight into the striker’s path and he made no mistake.

Four minutes later, Johnson fed Cowburn whose right footer was superbly tipped over by Makepeace.

It just wasn’t going to happen for Ashington – a fact borne out just past the hour mark.

Firstly Harmison got on the end of a Sampson cross from the right but his effort was pushed away by Makepeace who then saved a header from the visiting skipper.

And a minute later, Sampson charged through but his rasping drive hit the bar and went over.

Still Ashington tried to make inroads – but still they were repelled by a resolute home defence.

In the 68th minute, substitute Paul Robinson linked with Jordan Summerly but his low cross was cleared from the danger zone.

Seven minutes later and Crook wrapped up their victory when substitute Kai Hewitson broke away down the right and thumped an effort past McHugh.

Nash blasted over before the hosts got a fourth in the third minute of stoppage time.

Ashington lost possession from a thrown in and Mason Hurworth cut inside before blasting an unerring right footer past a helpless McHugh.

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Ashington vs Consett

By Brian Bennett

Danny Anderson’s first goal for two years earned Ashington a deserved share of the spoils in a 3-3 draw against league leaders Consett at The dwmedia Stadium on Saturday.

It was exciting. It was pulsating and it was captivating – and in perfect weather conditions, it was also on a day where Woodhorn Lane smashed the Ebac Northern League’s record attendance for the season to date with a superb crowd of 735 who certainly got value for money.

The Colliers went into the contest on the back of a 5-0 defeat against Thornaby the previous Saturday. But as was highlighted during the week by new skipper Ben Harmison, Ian Skinner’s side have a canny knack of bouncing back in their next outing.

And bounce back they did with aplomb. After going ahead just shy of the half hour mark with a brilliant goal by Craig Spooner, the Wansbeck outfit had to show all of their fighting qualities. Consett drew level through James Metcalfe, edged in front through an own goal and after a leveller from Luke Salmon, when ex Collier Dale Pearson made it 3-2 to the Durham side with ten minutes remaining it appeared that Ashington were going to be on the end of a hard luck story.

But the Colliers – who left every ounce of energy on the pitch – simply refused to give up and when Anderson tucked the ball into the net with four minutes of normal time remaining, it sent the home contingent into raptures.

On a pitch looking in pristine condition, it was the visitors who threatened first. Within a minute, they were awarded a free kick 20 yards out and a curling effort from Luke Carr flashed wide of home ‘keeper Adam McHugh’s left hand post.

Then in the seventh minute a ball down the channel sent Pearson through but a superb block tackle by Curtis Coppen resulted in a corner from which Calvin Smith headed over.

Two minutes later, Ashington created their first opening. The adventurous Salmon advanced towards the penalty area and when he squared the ball across, Max Cowburn’s right footer was tipped away by Kyle Hayes.

Hayes was called into the action later when he clutched a free kick from Cowburn from just outside the area then midway through the period, Karl Ross found Salmon on the right and when the midfielder cut inside, his shot was shovelled away by Hayes.

Ashington continued to press. A throw in by Ben Sampson ran kindly for Ross in the area but his missed his kick at the vital second which allowed Consett to clear.

But after knocking on the door, the Colliers eventually broke the deadlock.

On 26 minutes, Jordan Summerly ventured forward and after playing the ball to Adam Johnson, the debutant set up Cowburn whose effort hit the top of the crossbar and went over.

And two minutes later, Johnson was involved in the construction of the opener. He laid the ball off for Cowburn whose precision first time cross was magnificently headed inside the far corner by Spooner from six yards.

The Ashington crowd went wild but after Coppen had produced another brilliant tackle in the box to halt Colin Larkin, they were silenced ten minutes later when James Metcalfe equalised.

A header by Arjun Purewal came back off the post and McHugh made an outstanding save to deny the Consett skipper from the rebound, pushing the ball around for a corner on the left.

When the ball came into the box, Ashington had opportunities to clear and they were punished as Metcalfe drove inside the post from the edge of the area.

It prompted an instant response. An Anderson corner on the left was headed wide at the far post by Coppen then Salmon – who was initially blocked – picked up the rebound but stabbed just wide.

The final action saw Ross play the ball through for Spooner but a defender got back to thwart him.

Ashington were caught cold at the start of the second half as within two minutes, the Steelmen took a 2-1 lead.

Consett broke quickly down the right and when Jake Orrell played the ball across the six yards box, it was deflected into his own net by Coppen.

Ashington’s response was positive. Hayes held an effort from Spooner; Cowburn had a 22 yards free-kick tipped over by the visiting ‘keeper and from the resulting corner, a header from Harmison was touched wide.

Still they took the game to the leaders and after Cowburn had shanked an effort well wide, got the equaliser on the hour through Salmon.

A corner on the right by Ross was retrieved by Harmison who hooked into the danger zone for Salmon to net with a spectacular bicycle kick.

However in the next minute, the Colliers were almost caught out when Orrell exploited space but drove wide from 22 yards.

The intensity of the game was breathtaking with the action non stop as both sides went for the jugular.

And on the 65 minutes mark, Johnson – who certainly impressed on his first appearance following his move from neighbours Blyth Town – had a great opportunity when he was released through the middle with a one on one.

He bore down on goal but his low drive was tipped away by Hayes, who showed lightening reactions to tip the ball away with Johnson looking to poke home the rebound.

Salmon fired just over following a one-two with Johnson before the visitors went into a 3-2 lead.

Substitute Darren Holden – who had replaced Larkin for the start of the second half –crossed to the far post and Pearson steered home.

Skinner threw on late substitutions including Yannick Aziakonou and seconds after his introduction, he was involved as he switched the ball out wide left to Salmon and when he crossed, Anderson tucked home at the far post.

Still the relentless action continued right until the end. Johnson tried an audacious 40 yarder after a clearance from Hayes fell to him with the ‘keeper outside of the area but his effort was weak then when play switched to the other end, Consett had a penalty shout turned down by referee Darren Williams.

Then came the final whistle – and afterwards players, officials and supporters could reflect on a game which wasn’t only a credit to the league but to football in general

Before kick-off, an impeccable minutes silence was observed for Armistice Day.

13 November 2021 - Ashington AFC v. Consett AFC

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Thornaby vs Ashington

By Brian Bennett

It was maybes just a coincidence that after the final whistle at Thornaby on Saturday the Monty Python classic hit ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ blared out over the PA system.

It was possibly to give the Ashington contingent some much needed cheer after the Colliers had suffered their second 5-0 defeat inside a fortnight following on from their outing at West Auckland.

At West, Ian Skinner’s outfit trailed by three goals at the interval. On Saturday, his side went into the dressing rooms at the interval with the same disadvantage. On both away journeys, the scoreline was harsh – but on this occasion, add into the mix that Ashington’s first half showing was poor.

They did improve after the break and went close when Craig Spooner smacked the woodwork – and they did pin Thornaby inside their own half for large periods – until two late goals turned a defeat into what appears to be a hammering.

However, the damage was done in the first 35 minutes – and coincided with the Colliers looking inexplicably leggy and laboured.

Thornaby took the game to their visitors, who suffered a double whammy midway through the period.

The opener had been on the cards but it came in unfortunate circumstances as Curtis Coppen could only turn the ball into his own net following a cross from the right by home captain Lee Moore.

The game had barely restarted when a flick by Craig Hutchinson set up Elliott Beddow on the edge of the area and he slid the ball into the bottom corner past the despairing hands of ‘keeper Adam McHugh.

In truth, it could have got worse as a cross by Reece Kenney flashed just past and Beddow drove wide of the far post.

Then on the 35 minutes mark, the Teessiders got their third after a neat move as they switched possession from right to left.

The ball was played out wide to Luke Hogan who picked his spot placing his effort wide of McHugh and inside the corner.

Ten minutes after the resumption, Paul Robinson found Spooner whose shot came back into play after thudding against the base of the post and then Robinson was not far away with a 25 yarder.

Ahead of the hour mark, Skinner introduced Max Cowburn and Luke Salmon and the substitutes combined shortly afterwards.

Cowburn picked out Salmon with a cross and the wing back had a header from 16 yards held by ‘keeper Joshua Mazfari.

Two minutes later, Ben Sampson was the supplier finding Salmon again but on this occasion, he stroked the ball wide.

And in a busy passage of play, Salmon’s next involvement was to flash the ball across the face of goal.

At the other end, McHugh had denied Hutchinson then after a free kick by substitute Joseph Scaife-Wheatley had narrowly missed the far post, Thornaby were reduced to ten men for a period of ten minutes when Beddow was sent to the sin bin by referee David Pill for dissent.

The Colliers pushed newly installed skipper Harmison up front to try and take advantage of the extra man and after Sampson was not far away with a cross-cum-shot, Harmison headed wide as he stretched to meet a cross by Jordan Summerly.

In the 87th minute following a corner on the left, Hutchinson headed home Thornaby’s fourth and then in stoppage time, sub Joe Pickett fired a low shot across McHugh and inside the bottom corner.

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