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.