Competition: Northumberland Senior Cup

Ashington vs Newcastle United U21s

By Brian Bennett

Exquisite finishing by Dylan Stephenson and Jay Turner-Cooke shattered the dreams of a perfect send off for Ashington boss Ian Skinner as Newcastle United U21s went through to the final of the Newcastle Flooring Northumberland Senior Cup after a 2-1 win over the Colliers on a record breaking night at Woodhorn Lane.

However Skinner – who is stepping down after a magnificent five year period in charge – had nothing but praise and admiration for his players who were the better side and who fought tooth and nail to push the young Magpies all the way.

On a night when a crowd of 1447 set a new attendance record for the ground – beating the previous highest which was recorded last season against Stocksbridge Park Steels in an FA Cup replay – the Wansbeck side ought to have punished their visitors early doors but spurned two glorious opportunities inside the opening quarter hour.

The first came in only the second minute when Craig Spooner laid the ball back to the unmarked Wilson Kneeshaw who steadied himself but from six yards clipped his shot the wrong side of the post.

Then it was Kneeshaw turning provider when he set up Connor Thomson but the striker’s right footer hit the outside of the back stanchion.

Almost immediately, Amadou Diallo shanked an effort wide of Ross Coombe’s upright before Leo Shahar drove across the face of goal.

However in the 25th minute and against the run of play, Stephenson broke the deadlock in some style following a clearance from goalkeeper Aidan Harris.

He skipped past a defender before unleashing a thunderous left footer from the edge of the area which screamed past Coombe giving the ‘keeper no chance as it crashed inside the far corner.

On the half hour, Ben Sampson had a first time shot held by Harris then the midfielder found Dan Maguire whose effort was deflected into the hands of the Newcastle stopper.

Right on the stroke of half time, Kneeshaw cut inside but again saw his effort held by Harris.

For the opening 20 minutes of the second period, Ashington tried to unlock the Newcastle door but the Magpies stunned them in the 65th minute when Turner-Cooke added a brilliant second.

Awarded a free-kick just outside the area on the right, the midfielder struck a left footer with precision inside the far post.

Ian Skinner’s side retaliated and within two minutes, were right back in the contest with a goal from the in-form Maguire.

Kneeshaw weaved inside the area and when he had tried to beat one defender too many, the ball fell at the feet of Maguire who fired home.

Game on – and how Ashington exuded every ounce of energy throwing everything at their visitors until the final whistle.

Harris held onto a shot from Kneeshaw then in the third minute of stoppage time, Sampson found Spooner on the right and when he whipped over a cross, Maguire did everything right – except his effort was blocked.

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Ashington vs West Allotment Celtic

By Brian Bennett

An early goal from striker Dan Maguire proved to be the match winner which sent Ashington through to the semi finals of the Newcastle Flooring Northumberland Senior Cup on Tuesday night and set the Colliers up for a home clash against Newcastle United Under 23’s or Bedlington Terriers.

Maguire struck in the fifth minute, blasting home the rebound after Connor Thomson’s shot had been parried by Allotment ‘keeper Dan Gladstone.

The tie – which went ahead at the fourth time of asking – had been switched from Palmersville to Ashington but on a bitterly cold evening in Wansbeck, it was a contest which never reached any great heights.

The Colliers missed opportunities to add to their lead which would have given them some much needed breathing space and as the game entered four minutes of stoppage time, they were indebted to ‘keeper Ross Coombe for their progress as he pulled off two brilliant saves.

The visitors from the Ebac Northern League’s first division went into the clash on the back of two excellent away wins against Birtley Town and Redcar Athletic respectively – and they could have made a sensational start.

In the opening minute, Ashington lost possession and Mikel Thompson’s right footed drive smacked against the post and was cleared.

Craig Spooner provided the through pass to Thomson which led to Maguire’s opener and the Colliers could have doubled their lead within 60 seconds when Wilson Kneeshaw was clean through but he failed to get enough purchase on his attempted chip over Gladstone and the stopper was grateful to claim the ball at chest height.

On the quarter hour, another chance went begging when Maguire set up Thomson but his right footer was parried by Gladstone.

Play switched to the other end and after a blistering run down the left from Guilherme Baltazar, the striker cut inside but dragged his shot wide.

The visitors were looking a threat going forward and after a run and cross by Kyle Cockburn, it took an excellent clearance from Ben Williams to snuff out the danger.

In the 34th minute, Thomson raided down the left flank but his cross for the incoming Kneeshaw was fractionally too high and Gladstone intervened.

Then just before the interval, Ashington pieced together the best move of the half which initially involved Morgan Dart, Paul Van-Zandvliet and skipper Karl Ross. The latter found Thomson but his shot missed the far post by millimetres.

Early in the second period, Ashington spurned another couple of openings.

Si Jakab passed to Maguire and when he crossed, Kneeshaw headed wide then Maguire got possession on the right but fired over.

Just past the hour mark, Kneeshaw ran through and rounded Gladstone but his goalbound effort was cleared off the line by the retrieving Joshua Stewart before substitute Ben Sampson, Dart and Kneeshaw combined to set up Spooner whose shot was blocked.

The second half had been virtually devoid of chances until the visitors gave a final push in the closing stages.

With three minutes of the 90 remaining, they had the ball in the net but the goal was ruled out for a foul on Coombe – before the home ‘keeper was the hero of the hour.

Cyril Giraud burst through into the area and looked a certain scorer until his effort was pushed aside by Coombe who also pulled off a smart save minutes later.