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.