By Brian Bennett
Ashington extended their winning sequence to five matches on Saturday – but only after Ben Harmison had smashed home a dramatic stoppage time penalty against West Allotment Celtic at Woodhorn Lane.
Following torrential and incessant rain in the days leading up to the contest, groundsman Scott Robson had worked wonders to get the pitch in pristine condition.
However, the game itself lacked quality. In Ashington’s case it was a flat performance – but manager Ian Skinner had already forewarned supporters that his side were going to find it difficult to recreate early season displays due to the change in the condition of pitches.
Yet coasting at 2-0 just before the half way mark in the first period, Ashington did things the hard way. After Allotment substitute Liam Beeston had reduced the arrears from the penalty spot, it was all square five minutes later, as Scott McCarthy swept the ball home.
But after a foul by ‘keeper Dan Gladstone on Dan Maguire in the dying seconds, Harmison’s emphatic penalty sent the Ashington fans home happy.
Rewind to the start and Allotment should have been a goal to the good after only six minutes.
A long punt up field by Gladstone squirmed through the home rearguard and left Lucas Lower-Matondo with a glaring one-on-one opportunity.
However, the striker clipped a left foot shot wide of advancing ‘keeper Karl Dryden and past the post.
It was a stoke of luck for the Wansbeck side who then banked up a two goals advantage inside six minutes.
On the quarter hour, Harmison was tripped and pushed in the area by ex Collier Luke Parkinson – who was making his 300th appearance for the visitors – as the home skipper looked to get on the end of a cross by Jordan Summerly.
Referee Tyler Dutton awarded a penalty and Harmison confidently stroked it into the net, sending Gladstone the wrong way.
What was to be the best move of the match arrived in the 21st minute. A cross from Smith was headed superbly by Harmison which laid the ball on a plate for Karl Ross and the midfielder ought to have scored but saw his side footed effort saved by the legs of Gladstone,
However from the rebound, Harmison set up Liam Smith who lashed the ball home left footed from the edge of the area.
A tough dour battle then ensued until things all changed from the 63rd minute when McCarthy had a shot taken down by Dryden.
Three minutes later, the striker made a run of 30 yards until he was fouled in the box by Andrew Cartwright and substitute Beeston tucked home the resultant penalty just inside the post.
Five minutes later, West Allotment levelled when the ball was knocked over from the right and McCarthy hooked it home on the volley from eight yards.
In the third minute of time added on sub Yannick Aziakonou had a tame shot fielded by Gladstone following a free kick and it looked as if it would be the final chance.
But when Maguire pounced on a through ball by Harmison and attempted to round Gladstone, the ‘keeper upended him and for the third time in the contest, referee Dutton pointed to the spot.
Harmison made no mistake, blasting the penalty home as Gladstone moved in the opposite direction – much to the delight of the home supporters in another bumper attendance of over 500.
By Brian Bennett
Over the past few years at Ashington, what has developed into a regular – and popular – feature posted on the club’s social media platforms is the opportunity for players, officials and supporters to take a look at footage of goals and potted highlights from every game.
So when the best parts from Saturday’s Ebac Northern League first division clash at Northallerton were condensed into a mere 67 seconds, it really summed up this drab and abysmal match in a nutshell.
Within a period of ten first half minutes, Colliers nippy striker Dan Maguire carved out two chances for himself. With the first – on the 17 minutes mark – he turned and fired a left footer from the edge of the penalty area which smacked against the woodwork.
Eight minutes later, Maguire’s finish was exquisite. Craig Spooner beat the offside trap, raced down the right and when his shot was pushed out by home ‘keeper Samuel Taylor, Maguire picked up the rebound and after switching the ball from his left foot to his right, thumped it home just inside the post.
It proved to be the winner and extended the Woodhorn Lane club’s winning sequence to four matches.
As a result, it also saw them move into third place in the division – leapfrogging Newton Aycliffe who went down 3-1 against Seaham Red Star.
However, the Colliers could have been behind in the opening minutes following a slip inside the area with Matty Waters having a shot which was turned aside by ‘keeper Karl Dryden. Ben Harmison cleared away from the danger zone but Waters then had a header which was pushed away for a corner by the visiting stopper.
After Maguire had broke the deadlock, he fired over on the stroke of half time and midway through the second period, the forward cut inside but his shot lacked power and was collected by Taylor.
The only other opportunities came in the final 20 minutes. Northallerton sub Kyle Lancaster slice wide before a defensive slip presented an opening to Harmison but he lashed over.
It was clearly a game to forget – only Ashington were delighted after leaving the Calvert Stadium with all three points.
Before kick-off, players, officials and supporters observed an impeccable minutes silence as a mark of respect ahead of Remembrance Sunday.
By Brian Bennett
On a November day where fireworks displays were being held in the evening, Ashington Football Club produced a unique ‘one of their own’ during the afternoon at Woodhorn Lane which certainly went off with a bang!
In what had been billed as a top of the table six pointer, the Colliers – already leading by a super Lee Mason strike after the first 45 minutes – lit the blue touch paper immediately after the interval as Ian Skinner’s side completely demolished league leaders Bishop Auckland 5-0 with a commanding and ruthless performance in front of a crowd of 621.
In a whole hearted display of non stop action, they crammed three goals inside a five minutes period – the latter a sensational lob from 35 yards by Ben Sampson – which clearly left the visitors shell shocked.
The outstanding result made it three consecutive wins in eight days following on from victories over Thornaby and Whickham. Yet from the outset, it looked as if the Colliers were facing their severest challenge of the campaign so far.
The Two Blues – fresh from a 3-1 win over Northallerton in midweek – were quick out of the blocks and after Marcus Giles had got the better of Ryan McKinnon on the left, the defender recovered well to make a superb tackle inside the box to avert the danger.
Then in the seventh minute Dane Burlace found Louis Johnson in space but after bearing down on goal, the striker was denied by an excellent save by home ‘keeper Karl Dryden who spread himself well to block.
Without doubt, Bishops had been the more composed side, spraying the ball around confidently but in the 25th minute, Ashington had their first opportunity after good approach work by Karl Ross. The midfielder found Dan Maguire whose right footed effort was fisted out by ‘keeper Nick Liversedge.
Then on the half hour, James Fairley tried a shot from distance which went narrowly wide of Dryden’s upright.
However, sixty seconds later, the Colliers went in front with a spectacular strike from Mason.
Sampson picked out Ben Harmison with a diagonal pass and when the home skipper headed the ball across, it fell invitingly into the path of Mason who smashed a sizzling half volley from 20 yards wide of Liversedge and just inside the post.
Ashington began the second period much brighter.
Darren Lough ventured forward and when he found Maguire, the forward passed wide to Harmison but his shot from a tight angle went behind.
Burlace then crossed from the right and the ball fell perfectly for Giles but his shot was brilliantly blocked by Andrew Cartwright.
Harmison gave his side more breathing space in the 58th minute when he added a second.
A cross from Ross was headed on by Harmison to Mason who took a touch past Ben Errington before he was tripped by the defender inside the area.
Blyth-based referee Charlie Ford pointed to the spot and Harmison made no mistake, lashing home the resultant penalty.
From the midway point in the period, the Colliers went through a five minutes purple patch to go nap with goals from Maguire, Harmison and Sampson.
Sampson was the architect behind the first of the trio when he charged into the box and passed to Harmison who calmly flicked the ball to Maguire.
The striker cut inside from right to left then stroked home inside the far corner.
Minutes later, Ross won possession off a defender and cleverly slotted the ball through for substitute Adam Johnson. Johnson’s first touch took it past Liversedge with Harmison sliding in for goal number four,
But in the 72nd minute, supporters were treated to a goal of sheer quality from Sampson.
The midfielder intercepted the ball just inside his own half then after driving forward, looked up and from fully 35 yards, nonchalantly and audaciously chipped over the advanced Liversedge.
After sub Craig Spooner fired just over from the edge of the box, Dryden ensured a clean sheet for his side with two saves in the closing stages.
The stopper he dived to his right to push aside a free kick by Ciaran Banks then held a header from Weirs.
By Brian Bennett
Ashington survived an early scare before they wrapped up a comfortable 4-1 win over Whickham at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday night.
The victory was deserved and followed hard on the heels of Saturday’s 2-0 result over Thornaby on Teesside.
Conditions were perfect for the contest – and the Colliers made a great start as they took the lead in the 12th minute.
Good interchanging play between Liam Smith and Ben Sampson saw the latter lay the ball into the path of the overlapping Jordan Summerly.
The full back swung over a terrific inviting cross into the danger zone where skipper Ben Harmison placed a downward header into the net.
However, within 60 seconds, Whickham striker Kaleb Young went to ground inside the area under challenge from Karl Ross and referee Patrick Laws immediately pointed to the spot.
Jamie Dunn stepped forward to take the penalty but as home ‘keeper Karl Dryden dived to his right, the Whickham midfielder blasted the kick high over the bar.
Ashington made their visitors pay dearly for the miss as in the 27th minute the home side added a second after being awarded a free kick 25 yards out.
Andrew Cartwright took it right footed and the ball took a wicked defection off a Whickham defender before it spun and crept just inside the far post leaving ‘keeper Nathan Harker stranded.
Chances were at a premium – but 20 seconds after the interval, the Colliers increased their lead even further.
The ball was knocked forward and after Harmison had challenged upfield, Whickham defender Garon Garside lobbed it over the advanced Harker and into his own net.
Ten minutes later, Harmison came close to adding a fourth.
Karl Ross made a fabulous run down the left flank and when he crossed to the far post, Harmison’s header was goalbound until Harker pushed the ball out in fine style.
Two minutes later when Sam Dibb-Fuller threatened to run inside the Ashington area, he was halted by a superb tackle by Ryan McKinnon.
Just past the hour mark, substitute David Below had a shot held by ‘keeper Karl Dryden before a slick move by the home side involving Harmison, Cartwright and Sampson ended with the latter poking the ball wide of the post.
With quarter of an hour remaining, Ashington manager Ian Skinner made a triple substitution throwing Danny Anderson, Luke Salmon and Adam Johnson into the fray and within two minutes, the latter – after receiving the ball from Ross – cut inside but lashed over.
With eight minutes left on the clock, visitors skipper Dale Burrell reduced the arrears with a superbly struck right footed free-kick from 25 yards then in the next minute, a cross from the right was headed wide by Jamie Dunn.
But in the third minute of time added on, Anderson played a pass through for Spooner who chipped the ball over the advancing Harker for Ashington’s fourth.
By Brian Bennett
Quality goals from Ryan McKinnon and Lee Mason saw Ashington return to winning ways on Saturday as they recorded a 2-0 win over Thornaby at Teesdale Park.
After only taking one point from two home matches against Newcastle Benfield and Heaton Stannington last week, the Colliers were desperate to get back on track – and they did just that on Teesside with a thoroughly deserved victory.
What was also an added boost for the Wansbeck side was that they kept their first clean sheet in five matches. The defence were solid and ‘keeper Karl Dryden didn’t have a shot to save but McKinnon and skipper Darren Lough were outstanding throughout.
The match itself was certainly not a classic with chances sparse but Ashington – without several players – took the game to their opponents from the start and forced a flurry of corners inside the opening ten minutes.
McKinnon put a left foot flick wide then after work by Craig Spooner and Jordan Summerly down the flank, the cross from the latter struck a defender and rebounded to Mason who taken by surprise, reacted instinctively but his header went over.
Liam Smith was heavily involved in the action, linking the play in the midfield for the visitors and when he supplied a cross, Spooner’s right footer from 14 yards was turned around by home ‘keeper Matthew Cassap.
It was ironic that a game lacking in quality but nevertheless dominated by the Wansbeck side should produce two goals of the highest standard.
Midway through the opening period, Ashington got the breakthrough their early probing deserved.
Andrew Cartwright swung over a corner from the left which was met at the near post by McKinnon whose thumping header bulged the net.
The second half was also an uninspiring contest until Mason effectively wrapped up all three points for his side in the 77th minute when he scored his eighth goal of the campaign.
Ben Sampson won the ball in midfield and advanced before slotting the ball through to Mason whose thunderous right footer crashed into the top corner giving Cassap no chance.
Ashington now have two home matches inside five days. They take on Whickham on Tuesday night (November 1) followed by a top of the table clash against Bishop Auckland on Saturday (November 5).
By Brian Bennett | Photos: Ian Brodie
Ashington turned in a woeful performance against Heaton Stannington on Saturday which culminated in them losing their unbeaten tag in the first division of the Ebac Northern League.
Following their exit from the Emirates FA Cup at King’s Lynn, the Colliers had had to pull out all of the stops to rescue a point in a 3-3 draw against Newcastle Benfield in midweek and for all they had a lot of possession on Saturday, they simply could not find a way through a well organised visitors defence.
Consequently Ian Skinner’s side failed to score for the first time in the league this season – on a day when they again set a new league attendance at Woodhorn Lane. Saturday’s crowd of 618 came only four days after they had attracted 602 against Benfield.
The pivotal moment of the game came in the 28th minute.
A weaving run inside the area by Dean Briggs, where he shrugged off two challenges, came to an end when he was upended by Jordan Watson and referee Scott Henry awarded a penalty.
Home skipper Ben Harmison – who had scored with his last three spot kicks – again stepped forward but saw his effort parried out by ‘keeper Greg Purvis diving to his left.
The rebound fell into the path of Briggs whose drive thudded against the post – and when The Stan countered at pace down the left flank, Ashington were caught out at the back.
Daniel Stephenson crossed perfectly to the unmarked Konner Lamb who slotted the ball wide of ‘keeper Karl Dryden from six yards.
Incredibly the whole phase of play – which was wrapped up inside sixty seconds -provided the only highlights of an otherwise dreadful and abject first period.
Apart from an early half volley by Dan Maguire went well over; a 25 yarder by Yannick Aziakonou which went the wrong side of the post and a header by Heaton’s Joe Shepherd which was gobbled up by ‘keeper Karl Dryden following a free kick, the game was totally devoid of goalmouth action.
The second half faired only marginally better.
Four minutes in, the visitors survived after a goalmouth scramble after an in-swinging corner on the left by Andrew Cartwright then on 52 minutes, Craig Spooner – one of a trio of substitutes introduced by the home side at the break – fired a left footer just over.
Ashington tried to find a way through but were rebuffed by a resolute Heaton Stannington side who sat in and defended well.
Lee Mason had an opportunity but his effort was weak then from another corner by Cartwright, Briggs cut inside but shot over.
With ten minutes remaining, a long ball by sub Ryan McKinnon was glanced on by Harmison – now playing upfront – but the drive from Briggs was powder puff and easily dealt with by Purvis.
Another sub Adam Johnson saw a back header drift wide and in the closing stages Spooner had an effort from the edge of the area deflected behind before a free-kick by Liam Smith in the fourth minute of stoppage time went straight down Purvis’s throat.
By Brian Bennett
Ashington’s unbeaten record in the Ebac Northern League was under threat on Tuesday night against Newcastle Benfield – until they fought back to gain a point in a thrilling 3-3 draw under the lights at Woodhorn Lane.
Following their exit in the Emirates FA Cup after a 3-1 defeat at King’s Lynn on Saturday, the Colliers returned to action in front of a crowd of 602 – their biggest home league attendance of the season – hoping to get points on the board as they are lagging behind with their fixtures.
Only Newcastle Benfield had written their own script – and silenced the home supporters as they went into a 2-0 lead by the midway point of the first half through Dennis Knight and Ben Dibb-Fuller.
Ashington drew level with Nicholas Green putting the ball into his own net before the interval then skipper Ben Harmison scored from a penalty.
When Knight got his second five minutes later, the Colliers were chasing the game again and after dominating proceedings they equalised through Luke Salmon.
After being 2-0 down then 3-2 behind, the point could prove vital come the end of the season – yet for all their possession, the Wansbeck side turned in a poor performance.
They were caught cold in the fourth minute when Layton Watts whipped in a free kick from the right which was met by Knight whose instinctive right footer went inside the bottom corner.
Dan Maguire wriggled through to fire wide of ‘keeper Andrew Grainger’s right hand post then Dean Briggs cut inside a couple of players but saw his effort deflected for a corner by a defender.
Archie Leonard had a chance but drove past ‘keeper Adrian Janusz’s near post then at the other end, Briggs found Karl Ross whose effort was deflected and from the follow up, Mason’s shot was also blocked.
The visitors were looking dangerous on the counter attack and in the 23rd minute, a superlative strike from Dibb-Fuller not only fired them into a two goal lead but rocked the home crowd.
From an Ashington corner on the left which was taken by Grainger, the Lions broke at pace with Dibb-Fuller running from the inside right channel to the left before firing a thunderous left footer wide of Janusz and into the far corner.
When Benfield’s long serving ‘keeper Grainger saved brilliantly diving to his left to deny Briggs, it looked as if it was going to be one of those nights – but sixty seconds later, in the 34th minute, the Colliers got back into the game when Andrew Cartwright’s cross was deflected into his own net by Nicholas Green.
Five minutes into the second half, Ben Sampson swung the ball into the danger zone where Grainger fouled Darren Lough and referee Matthew Harris immediately pointed to the spot.
Harmison stepped forward and sent Grainger the wrong way to equalise.
Knight was thwarted by an excellent save by Janusz – but in the 56th minute, the Benfield centre forward was put clear and he made no mistake, coolly slotting wide of the home stopper.
Dibb-Fuller had a goal ruled out for offside then Salmon and Cartwright were both denied by Grainger.
Ashington continued to push forward and ten minutes from time fashioned an equaliser. The ball was played into the feet of Maguire who held it up then laid it off for Salmon who slotted home.
Three minutes from the end of normal time, Harmison headed on a free kick by substitute Ryan McKinnon to Maguire who netted but the assistant’s flag was raised for offside.
Benfield – whose work rate was phenomenal throughout – brought on Joe Robson as an 86th minute substitute but as the game entered into almost eight minutes of time added on, the defender was red carded for a foul on Salmon.
Nevertheless, the frantic pace of the game continued right the way to the final whistle but the only opportunity saw sub Adam Johnson fire wide.
Before kick-off, players, officials and supporters stood for a minutes applause as a tribute to Claire Wealleans who sadly lost her brave battle against an illness.
By Brian Bennett | Photos: Rachel McDonald
Ashington’s dreams of bridging a gap of over 60 years in their FA Cup history were shattered on Saturday after they went down 3-1 against high flying King’s Lynn in their fourth qualifying round tie in Norfolk.
However there has been so much to admire about Ian Skinner’s side throughout this epic run which all began in early August with a thrilling 3-2 win over Newton Aycliffe at Woodhorn Lane.
In the last three rounds, the Wansbeck outfit have knocked out Ashton United, Bradford Park Avenue and Stocksbridge Park Steels – higher clubs in the non league footballing pyramid – and on Saturday, although the Colliers came up short against a side who are top of the National League North, they nevertheless left The Walks Stadium with their heads held high.
Afterwards King’s Lynn boss Tommy Widdrington showered praise on Skinner and his side – and deservedly so – after they had left everything out on the pitch.
It was a typical cup tie with flowing football at a premium but after Ben Stephens had given the home side the lead, plucky Ashington responded quickly and levelled through Luke Salmon.
Jordan Ponticelli’s fine volley restored the lead for the Linnets and when Adam Crowther swept the ball home twelve minutes from time, the goal effectively booked their passage into the first round proper.
In the fourth minute, Dan Maguire slipped the ball through for Lee Mason but his effort drifted wide of ‘keeper Paul Jones’s right hand post.
King’s Lynn made a swift counter attack and Joshua Barrett’s shot towards the near post forced ‘keeper Karl Dryden to save with his legs.
Barrett had an identical opportunity on the 12 minutes mark and the outcome was the same too, with Dryden keeping the ball out.
However on the quarter hour the home side went ahead when a side footed shot by Stephens from 14 yards, squirmed under Dryden’s body and went into the bottom corner of the net.
The Colliers hit back with Yannick Aziakonou having a shot from 20 yards charged down before the visitors drew level following a slick incisive move.
Dean Briggs placed the ball through for Salmon who coolly slotted wide of Jones and inside the far corner.
But Ashington’s joy was short-lived as only four minutes later, they were behind for a second time.
The finish from Ponticelli was top drawer as he took the ball down and volleyed wide of Dryden and inside the far post as Ashington looked towards the assistant for an offside flag which never came.
On the half hour, a snap shot by Barrett smacked against the post with Dryden rooted to the spot then the stopper fisted out an effort by Gold Omotayo.
Ashington – once again spurred on by a noisy following of over 150 supporters – came close on 36 minutes when Briggs darted into the box but shot just wide.
At the start of the second half, Mason fired narrowly over from 22 yards after a Maguire lay off and the Colliers were the better side in the opening 20 minutes.
Salmon won an aerial duel to head on for Ben Sampson but his shot was held by Jones then a clever pass by Maguire set up Sampson who was again denied by the home ’keeper.
With 20 minutes remaining, Dryden kept Ashington in the game. He thwarted Michael Clunan when he was clean through on the right but in the 78th minute, King’s Lynn broke Ashington hearts when Crowther struck a decisive third.
A free kick by Aaron Jones to the far post was headed back by substitute Joshua Coulson for Crowther who fired in.
Ashington kept going until the end – but the final whistle saw them bow out of the competition.
However, Colliers fans applauded their side who in return came over – along with the management team – to the section of the stand where the majority of their supporters were housed to show their appreciation amid emotional scenes.
By Brian Bennett
Skipper Ben Harmison scored a late penalty for Ashington against Tow Law Town on Saturday to preserve the Colliers’ 100 per cent home record in the Ebac Northern League this season.
The Wansbeck side deservedly took all three points but had to do it the hard way after trailing to a goal on the half hour by Andrei-Vasile Ardelean. As half time approached Luke Salmon popped up to score his second goal of the campaign to equalise then eight minutes from time Harmison calmly slotted home from the spot.
It was an important win for Ian Skinner’s side who were playing their first league game for a fortnight and only their third in over five weeks due to their glorious run in the Emirates FA Cup – but both sides had to contend with a difficult swirling wind.
The Colliers knocked Tow Law off the FA Cup trail back in August in what was a tough encounter and on Saturday, the home side once again had to dig deep against a hard working Lawyers side whose main threat came on the counter attack.
Indeed their was nothing worthy of note in the opening quarter hour and the first chance came when work down the left by Daniel Marriott set up Luke Page but the midfielder drove the ball wide of ‘keeper Karl Dryden’s right hand post.
Ashington began to boss the game and after Paul Robinson had gone close with a right footer from 22 yards, the home outfit pieced together a flowing move.
Andrew Cartwright, Darren Lough, Paul Robinson and Luke Salmon were all involved in the construction but from a cross by the latter, Harmison headed wide at the far post.
Ashington continued to probe and pin the visitors inside their own half and consequently when the Lawyers broke to take the lead on the half hour, the goal came completely against the run of play.
The ball was played through and Ardelean broke from just inside the Ashington half, rounded Dryden and side footed in.
But after an ambitious effort from all of 30 yards by Briggs had sailed over, the Colliers drew level five minutes before the break.
Yannick Aziakonou took the ball past a defender on the right then whipped over an inviting cross where Luke Salmon – steaming in at the far post – bulleted a header into the net.
Early in the second period, Jamie Hanson crossed from the left but Harmison’s shot was superbly parried by ‘keeper Thomas Orton.
However, five minutes later, the ‘keeper excelled himself even further when he finger tipped a 20 yarder from Ben Sampson – which was destined for the top corner – over the bar then he grasped a low effort from distance by Aziakonou.
Ashington continued to press but in the 63rd minute they were almost caught out when Ardelean’s shot came back off the foot of the post.
Similarly in the 79th minute, substitute Liam Smith tracked back superbly to thwart Ethan Bewley when the forward had a clear opening.
But with eight minutes of the 90 remaining, Briggs swung a free kick into the area which was handled by a Tow Law defender.
Referee Matthew Davidson immediately pointed to the spot and Harmison sent Orton the wrong way with the penalty.
Minutes later, Smith played the ball through to Sampson but after cutting inside, the number eight fired wide.