The Colliers came into this Northumberland Senior Cup Quarter Final tie against Northern League Second Division side West Allotment Celtic off the back of a superb 1-0 victory at the weekend against Durham City at the Archibalds Stadium thanks to a first half strike from David Riches.
The Colliers hoped home advantage would see them through to the semi-finals of a competition they hadn’t won since 1980 when a Brian Pringle hat-trick took Ashington to a 4-2 extra time Senior Cup Final replay victory against Heaton Stannington at North Shields old Appleby Park ground after the first meeting at Newcastle United’s St. James’ Park had finished 0-0.
Ashington had reached this round after a narrow 2-1 win against Northern Alliance side Percy Main Amateurs thanks to goals from Jon Sunderland and Alan Hogg. West Allotment had defeated Morpeth Town 3-1 at Craik Park with the ANL Second Division’s top scorer Michael Chilton netting a hat-trick. Both sides were hoping to join Prudhoe Town (3-2 winners at Blyth Spartans), Whitley Bay (3-2 winners at home to Bedlington Terriers) and Benfield Saints (given a bye after Team Northumbria’s withdrawn from the competition) in the semi finals of the Crosslings Northumberland Senior Cup.
West Allotment had started this season well after promotion to the ANL’s second tier after romping to the Northern Alliance Championship a year before. Celtic had already netted 70 goals this season thanks mainly to ex-Gateshead striker Michael Chilton who had 38 goals to his name in all competitions before kick off. West Allotment hope his goals can fire the North Tyneside team to the First Division but the face stiff competition from Blue Star, Northallerton, Washington Nissan and Prudhoe Town. West Allotment were without one familiar face with ex-Ashington striker Andy ‘Spook’ Purvis unavailable (probably suspended!).
The Colliers named the same starting eleven for the third game running after wins and clean sheets against Consett and Durham City. Ray Gowan was still without a number of players with David Carr, Dale Telfer, Lee Telfer and Derek Atwell all unavailable.
Starting XI – 1. Andy Clark, 2. Lee Anderson, 3. David Bibby, 4. Darren Timmons, 5. Ross Atkinson, 6. Brian Smith, 7. David Riches, 8. Ian Herron, 9. Alan Hogg, 10. Paul Hogg, 11. Alex Lawson.
Substitutes Used – Jon Sunderland.
The away side started well and a jinking run from midfield resulted in an effort that was well blocked by Timmons.
With five minutes gone Ashington were awarded a free-kick 25 yards from the West Allotment Goal. Up stepped Alan Hogg who curled a stunning effort over the
wall and into the top right hand corner of the net giving goalkeeper Archibald no chance as the Colliers went 1-0 ahead to the delight of the home fans.
Ashington continued to attack and a few half chances came and went before David Riches wonderful cross from the left evaded Allotment defender Malone, allowing Alan Hogg an easy chance from 6 yards out as he side footed the ball into the bottom right hand corner to make it 2-0.
Minutes later Alan Hogg headed just over the bar from 10 yards out from a superb cross by Ross Atkinson before Lee Anderson’s ball into the Celtic box resulted in an effort just wide of Ian Archibald’s goal.
Just before half time the Colliers increased their lead and it was that man again – Alan Hogg – who completed his hat-trick with a sublime finish. A through ball saw Hogg get clear of Malone and with Archibald advancing, Alan Hogg chipped the ball over the diving keeper and into the net to make it 3-0. Other chances were squandered as Ashington went in 3-0 up at half time.
Ashington started the second half well as the y went in search of further goals against their Second Division opponents. Early in the half Ashington should have been awarded a penalty when Alex Lawson was blatantly brought down in the area but the referee and his ‘assistant’ failed to spot the obvious.
Minutes later the referee and his ‘assistant’ were upsetting more people as Ross Atkinson’s superb 20 yard effort that flew into the bottom corner was disallowed due to a extremely dubious offside call against Paul Hogg.
Ashington were then denied by a great save by Archibald. Ian Herron skipped past a poor challenge before unleashing a powerful, low drive that was superbly held by the Celtic keeper at full stretch. Within seconds Archibald came to the away sides rescue yet again when he produced a cracking save with his right leg from a powerful shot from the impressive David Riches after a great run and cross from Paul Hogg.
After total Ashington pressure the visitors finally showed why they had found the net 70 times in the League already as they caused the Colliers defence a few problems and it came as no surprise when top scorer Michael Chilton was put clean through on goal and he made no mistake as he fired past the advancing Andy Clark to make the score 3-1 with about 25 minutes to go.
West Allotment pushed forward looking for another two goals that would force the replay at the Blue Flames. As the visitors pushed men forward they left themselves vulnerable to the counter attack and Ashington almost restored their three goal lead when Paul Hogg headed against the crossbar after a superb right wing cross by substitute Jon Sunderland.
Late in the game chances fell at both ends. Allotment were denied a second late on when Andy Clark made a couple of good saves including one effort on the volley from Chilton that he did well to hold. At the other end Alex Lawson blazed wide twice from good positions as the game ended 3-1 to the Colliers.
A very good performance by Ashington who were unlucky not to score more than the three they scored thanks to a fantastic treble by Alan Hogg. The match showed the gap between the First and Second Division of the Northern League as high-flying Celtic could have easily been on the end of a hiding if it hadn’t been for some superb goalkeeping. This comprehensive victory sees Ashington through to the Semi-Finals of the Northumberland Senior Cup and with the likes of Newcastle United Reserves, Blyth Spartans and last season’s winners Bedlington Terriers already knocked out – the 2004/2005 competition will have an unfamiliar winner.
ashingtonafc.com Star Men
1. Alan Hogg
2. Ian Herron
3. David Riches