League: Northern League First Division Cup

Ashington vs Newcastle Benfield

By Brian Bennett

Ashington bridged a nine year gap on Bank Holiday Monday when they deservedly lifted the Ebac Northern League Division One Cup after victory over Newcastle Benfield at North Shields’s Daren Persson Stadium.

It was back in 2013 when the Colliers last won silverware as they clinched the Northumberland Senior Cup during Gary Middleton’s reign as manager with a 3-0 success over Whitley Bay at Newcastle United’s St James’ Park.

And on Monday, in what was the fifth clash of the season between the two sides this season, the win was both comfortable and convincing as the Colliers tore their opponents apart – literally from kick-off.

That’s when Dean Briggs won the ball on the half way line which was pounced on by Lewis Suddick.

All of a sudden, Benfield were wide open at the back with Suddick having acres of space to advance down the right flank and when he pulled the ball square, Paul Robinson blasted into the roof of the net with the goal logged at 32 seconds.

The goal sent the terrific following of fans from Wansbeck into raptures but as the Ashington contingent celebrated, there were further problems for the visitors when their long serving goalkeeper Andrew Grainger received lengthy treatment after appearing to collide with the goalpost.

Benfield’s first sorte downfield came in the seventh minute when former Collier Ryan McGorrigan charged down the left but his cross was cleared.

The Wansbeck outfit doubled their lead on the quarter hour – from the spot.

Briggs made his way into the area where he went to ground under a challenge from a Benfield defender. Referee Glen Hart pointed for a penalty and Suddick made no mistake as he rolled the ball inside the bottom corner.

Ashington could have added to their tally after two fine moves inside 90 seconds.

Skipper Ben Harmison’s header found Briggs who passed to Craig Spooner but he curled his effort wide of Grainger’s left hand upright.

Then a well worked free kick involving Suddick, Robinson and Jordan Summerly ended with a centre by the latter going across the face of goal.

Ashington had been in control of the first period – and little changed after the break.

Indeed they could have made an identical start to the second half as they had to the first when Ben Sampson got possession but fired narrowly over the bar from distance.

However in the 56th minute, what was to be the goal of the game was scored by Paul Robinson.

Sampson claimed the assist as he feigned to shoot then laid a pass off for Robinson who ran onto the ball and whipped a brilliant right footer from the edge of the area inside the top corner leaving Grainger helpless.

Three minutes later, Benfield ought to have reduced the arrears when following a corner on the left, skipper Mark Turnbull headed wide at the far post after a cross from Cameron Gascoigne.

However sixty seconds later, the Newcastle side did get on the score sheet when Aiden Haley drove a low effort from the edge of the box inside ‘keeper Adam McHugh’s left hand post.

But two minutes later, Ashington restored their three goals lead following a sweeping move from left to right.

It ended with Suddick finding Briggs and the striker slotted home, squeezing a shot between Grainger and his post.

Suddick cut inside but saw his shot blocked for a corner then McGorrigan had the ball in the Ashington net but the goal was disallowed for offside.

The closing minutes saw Benfield’s Turnbull and Brad Varga receive yellow cards whilst Dennis Knight saw red following a foul on Summerly.

But after the final whistle, it was Ashington skipper Ben Harmison who proudly held aloft the Cup following a dominant display.

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Ashington vs Consett

By Brian Bennett

Ashington are through to the final of the Ebac Northern League Cup after deservedly edging a seven goal thriller against Consett at The dwmedia Stadium on Tuesday night.

The Colliers led 3-1 at the break and the Steelmen’s task became more difficult when they had Calvin Smith sent off on the hour.

But in a barnstorming finale, the visitors brought the game level with goals from Scott Heslop and an 83rd minute penalty from Colin Larkin.

However there was even more drama as Ashington striker Dean Briggs volleyed home two minutes later for what proved to be the winner.

The Colliers made a positive start and took the lead in the fifth minute when a corner on the left by Lewis Suddick was glanced on by Craig Spooner. ‘Keeper Kyle Hayes spilled the ball and skipper Ben Harmison pounced to turn in the rebound.

Consett drew level within three minutes when David Dowson headed the ball on for Carl Lawson who struck a terrific right footer from the edge of the box which went wide of ‘keeper Adam McHugh and just inside the post.

Ashington continued to probe. In the 20th minute, Bobby Taylor had a shot fisted away by Hayes and seconds later, Yannick Aziakonou played a delightful pass over the top of a defender to Jordan Summerly who advanced before sweeping the ball across Hayes with a controlled finish to put the Colliers 2-1 in front.

Back came Consett and after Lawson’s effort had been cleared off the line by Aziakonou at one end, Briggs picked up a loose ball five yards inside the Consett half, accelerated past a defender and slotted right footed into the far corner to make it 3-1.

And Ashington weren’t finished there either. On the half hour, Curtis Coppen won possession and laid the ball off for Briggs who spotted Hayes off his line and tried an audacious effort from just inside the Consett half which was not far off target.

Sixty seconds later, following a great move, Briggs narrowly failed to connect with a deep cross from the right by Liam Doyle.

Early doors after the break, Doyle made an important tackle in the box to thwart Larkin then Harmison played the ball into the path of Briggs whose 25 yarder was parried away by Hayes.

On the hour, the visitors were reduced to ten men when Smith fouled Summerly just over the half way line and referee Kieran Downey brandished the red card to the Consett defender.

In the 64th minute, Ashington missed out on a double opportunity to make it 4-1 when Doyle was the supplier of another cross from the right where Briggs and Taylor both had shots blocked by Hayes then Briggs had a centre cleared off the line by Alex Francis.

However in the 73rd minute, slack marking from a Consett corner on the left allowed Heslop a free header which he buried past McHugh.

Ten minutes later, a challenge by Doyle on Consett substitute Dale Pearson saw referee Downey point to the spot and Larkin stepped up to send McHugh the wrong way for the equaliser.

But the Colliers rallied superbly from the kick off to regain the lead in sensational fashion when that man Briggs – playing against his former side – took a pass from Spooner to volley inside the corner wide of Hayes.

However with 20 seconds of stoppage time remaining, McHugh crucially clutched onto a goal bound shot from Heslop before the final whistle sparked off scenes of jubilation from the home supporters.

After the final whistle, Consett defender Darren Holden was sent off for the use of foul and abusive language.

Ashington’s opponents in the final will be Sunderland Ryhope CW or Newcastle Benfield who meet in the other semi final on Saturday April 23.

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Ashington vs Guisborough Town

Br Brian Bennett

Ashington marched into the semi finals of the Division One Cup on Tuesday night after brushing Guisborough Town aside at The dwmedia Stadium.

The Colliers will now host Consett next Tuesday (April 12) with a place in the final for the winners.

A quickfire double from Craig Spooner early in the contest set the Colliers on their way and although Priorymen skipper Joseph Bartliff reduced the arrears five minutes before the break with a stunning effort, Ben Sampson’s first goal of the season – which made the scoreline 3-1 – could not have come at a better time.

The Wansbeck outfit deserved their success on the night and banished the blues after losing heavily 6-1 at home against the Teessiders in their Ebac Northern League first division clash recently.

The only downside on the night for Ian Skinner’s side was the dismissal of Luke Salmon. The midfielder – who had already been cautioned on the half hour for a challenge towards the half way line – needlessly erred again with only two minutes of the 90 remaining and was shown a straight red card by referee Kirk Freeth.

That apart, Ashington were in the mood right from the start as they kicked into the teeth of a strong wind. Indeed skipper Ben Harmison – who despite wearing the number six shirt played up front – had the ball in the net after only four minutes following a free-kick by Dean Briggs but the goal was ruled out for offside.

In the Colliers next raid, Ben Sampson charged through the middle before laying the ball off to Spooner whose low right footer was held by Guisborough ‘keeper Robert Dean.

The visitors failed to heed the warning and within the space of three minutes, Spooner not only gave his side the lead but also added a second – with both goals coming from a similar distance.

The first on 14 minutes stemmed from another free kick from the left which was pumped towards the far post by Briggs and when the ball broke to Spooner, he fired home from the edge of the area.

Spooner’s second was even better. Liam Doyle and Sampson linked neatly down the right flank and when the ball was played inside, Spooner glided past his marker before striking a superb left footer from 20 yards which left Dean helpless.

It was just the start Ashington had been looking for and in the 21st minute, Briggs found Harmison at the far post and when he pulled the ball back, Spooner came close to completing a hat-trick as his effort drifted narrowly wide.

Minutes later, another restart by Briggs was held by Dean diving to his right but as the half wore on, the visitors served notice that this cup quarter final was far from over.

In the 37th minute, Cole Kiernan almost pulled one back after a brilliant piece of skill. He received a pass some 25 yards out and instinctively teed the ball up for himself before striking a right foot volley which whistled inches past the post with Ashington ‘keeper Adam McHugh rooted to the spot.

However four minutes later, skipper Bartliff brought his side back into the contest with a sublime effort. The ball was played across from the left where Bartliff squeezed a volley from 22 yards between McHugh and the upright.

Early in the second period, Benjamin Jackson fired wide before there was action at both ends of the field within the matter of minutes.

Just before the hour mark, Spooner turned on a sixpence but saw his left footed shot held by Dean. Shortly afterwards, Yannick Aziakonou played the ball up to Harmison who flicked on for Salmon but he was also denied by Dean.

When play switched, Jackson – up in the attack again – saw his goalbound shot saved by the legs of McHugh.

However, midway through the half, Ashington got the cushion of a two goal lead. Briggs played the ball into the area where Sampson’s initial shot was blocked but the ricochet ran straight into the path of the home midfielder who side footed inside the far post, wide of Dean.

Seconds later, Jordan Summerly went close to a fourth after cutting inside from the left and driving just wide.

Ashington managed the game and kept Guisborough at Bay – but with time running out, the Colliers were reduced to ten men after Salmon’s indiscretion.

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Thornaby vs Ashington

By Brian Bennett

An early goal from Luke Salmon proved to be the defining moment as Ashington marched through to the quarter finals of the Ebac Northern League First Division Cup after a hard fought but deserved victory over Thornaby at Teesdale Park on Wednesday night.

However, the visitors win came at a cost as central defender Thomas Kalthoeber was stretchered off on the hour with a hamstring injury.

The clash between the hosts – second in the table – against fourth placed Ashington was never a classic. However, it was a double riposte by Ian Skinner’s side who were completely out of sorts last weekend when they went down 4-2 at Northallerton, and who were well beaten 5-0 by Thornaby in the league clash between the two clubs on Teesside in early November.

But ultimately it was the energetic Salmon who came up trumps on the night, nipping in at the far post between a defender and goalkeeper Quinaceo Hunt to head home a left footed cross by Adam Johnson.

His moment of glory arrived in the 13th minute and could not have come at a more apt time for the Colliers who had been under the cosh from the first whistle.

Thornaby were slick and incisive as they moved the ball around with confidence and in the third minute, a dangerous looking cross from the right by Elliott Beddow was pushed away to safety by ‘keeper Karl Dryden.

The pressure continued and later skipper Lee Moore fired over from the edge of the area after another flowing move.

But the game changed in an instant when Salmon pounced to put his side in front.

All of a sudden the goal settled the Colliers down and looking solid as a defensive unit, they went on to be the better side in the opening half.

They had chances to add to the lead too.

Midway through the period, the excellent Jordan Summerly and Salmon combined down the left and when the latter crossed, the ball was cleared for a corner.

Ashington went closer in the 33rd minute when Salmon – in the thick of the action – and Liam Doyle linked with Doyle’s right footer missing the far post by inches.

Two minutes later Salmon won the ball back in midfield and fed Johnson who turned but his left footed effort went narrowly wide.

And just before the break, Doyle found Johnson who fired just past the post with a first time shot.

Early doors after the break, it was the visitors who threatened again.

Within the first minute, Johnson cut inside and unleashed a left footer wide then Salmon met a cross from the right by Ben Sampson but headed wide of the near post.

On the hour mark, Craig Hutchinson and Luke Hogan linked well and just as the latter was about to shoot, Kalthoeber made a brilliant last ditch tackle. However in doing so, the defender was injured and was replaced by Yannick Aziakonou.

In the final half hour, there was plenty of endeavour from both sides but the only real chance fell Ashington’s way when Sampson played the ball out wide to Danny Anderson and from his cross, Salmon headed over.

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