By Brian Bennett | Match Gallery: Ian Brodie
Whitley Bay took all three points from this top of the table clash against Ashington at Hillheads Park on Good Friday with a goal scored by Elliott Day in first half stoppage time.
The Colliers went into the contest knowing that if they won, it would strengthen their own promotion hopes whilst at the same time bringing the Seahorses challenge to an end.
However as the league table stands with just under a fortnight of the campaign remaining, there are still several permutations possible.
Newton Aycliffe remain favourites to win the title with Bishop Auckland, Ashington and Whitley Bay vying for the play off spot.
On a pleasant spring afternoon, there was a good representation of Ashington supporters in the crowd on 783 – but they went home disappointed after seeing their side tumble to a second defeat in three matches.
Ashington started the brighter outfit and after only three minutes, Ben Sampson, Craig Spooner, Lee Mason and Lewis Suddick linked up well with the latter seeing his cross blocked at the near post for a corner.
Minutes later skipper Darren Lough, Dean Briggs and Dan Maguire worked a move down the left but it ended with home ‘keeper Dan Lister easily gathering a shot from Maguire which lacked power.
Whitley’s first threat came on the quarter hour when Bailey Geliher crossed for Mark Davison who headed wide.
Midway through, Mason played the ball through and it was Day who made a terrific tackle in the area to halt Suddick.
Suddick then let fly from 25 yards with a free kick which flashed narrowly wide before the home side broke the deadlock in the second minute of time added on for stoppages.
Following a corner on the right, the ball was recycled with former Collier Ben Richardson floating it into the danger area for Day who planted a firm header back across goal and inside the corner of the net with ‘keeper Karl Dryden rooted to the spot.
After a pretty mundane first period, the action at the start of the second half was intense.
Dryden held an effort from Josh Gilchrist; Spooner had a golden opportunity at the other end but fired over then a drive by Gilchrist was superbly turned aside by Dryden diving low to his right.
Ashington manager Ian Skinner gradually introduced his full compliment of substitutes and Adam Johnson – one of the five – played a ball through for Maguire.
The striker’s effort was blocked by Lister but Johnson blasted over the rebound. Another sub Scott Heslop had a shot pushed away by the home stopper before there was controversy in the 81st minute which left the visitors fuming.
Sampson poked the ball away from a defender who clattered into him inside the area which sent the midfielder tumbling to the ground but referee David Mitchell turned down the Colliers’ appeals for a penalty – and when Sampson spoke to the official, he was sent to the sin bin for ten minutes.
In the 83rd minute, Whitley almost put the game to bed when Geliher found Davison but his drive went inches wide of Dryden’s right hand post.
Even before they were reduced in number, Ashington had appeared to run out of ideas but they nevertheless kept going right until the end of the seven minutes of time which was added on.
By Brian Bennett | Photos: Ian Brodie
A brilliant strike by Lee Mason gave Ashington three crucial points in their quest for promotion against basement side Pickering Town at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.
And the importance Mason’s goal – which came shortly before half time – was even more significant with close rivals Bishop Auckland and Whitley Bay both tasting defeat against Carlisle City and Northallerton Town respectively.
Consequently, the Colliers leapfrogged over Bishops into second place and have a game in hand on the County Durham side as the clamour at the top of the Ebac Northern League’s first division heads towards a grand climax.
On a chilly afternoon in Wansbeck, the one piece of quality by Mason shone like a beacon in what was an uninspiring and dour affair played out on a heavy pitch.
In fairness the home side went in search of the opener but far too often passes went astray.
The first sniff of an opportunity came in the 12th minute when Craig Spooner played the ball through for Mason but his touch was just too heavy and his shot was held by ‘keeper Quinaceo Hunt.
Ashington continued to probe, dominating possession and midway through the period, a move involving Karl Ross, Ben Sampson and Mason ended with Spooner lifting the ball over from eight yards.
Ten minutes later, a free kick from 25 yards by Spooner cleared the bar then with half time approaching, the visitors had their first chance when Keelan Grist’s effort was tipped over by home stopper Karl Dryden.
What was to be the all important goal arrived in the 44th minute. Ashington broke from a Pickering corner and when Dan Maguire was fouled, referee Lewis Marriner played a brilliant advantage.
Maguire managed to play the ball through for Mason who twisted and turned inside the area before he struck a fierce right footed effort from a tight angle which crashed into the net via the underside of the crossbar.
After the break, Ashington continued to look for a second.
In the 51st minute, Damen Mullen, Sampson and Ross linked well but the move fizzled out with Hunt intercepting then just past the hour mark, Sampson and Robbie Dale worked a corner on the left to find Jordan Summerly who skipped past a defender but his drive was pushed out by Hunt.
And it was the ‘keeper who again denied the Colliers towards the end of normal time when he touched over a header by Sampson from a cross from substitute Lewis Suddick.
Ashington now make the short trip down the coast to face Whitley Bay at Hillheads on Good Friday (April 7) where kick off is 12 noon.
By Brian Bennett | Photos: Ian Brodie
Ashington suffered a blow to their promotion hopes when Tom Romano slotted home a stoppage time winner for Whickham at the First Mortgage Glebe Stadium on Tuesday night.
For the neutral it was an exciting contest which went one way then the other but for the Colliers, who trailed league leaders Newton Aycliffe by three points, it was the game in hand they had over the County Durham side who now remain in pole position.
For the umpteenth time this season, it was the proverbial game of two halves. Ashington were bright and dominant in the first period and although they deservedly reached the break one goal to the good through Karl Ross, the lead should have been more.
Then second half, the Lang Jacks – kicking with the slope – were the better outfit giving everything they had in terms of work rate and desire. After scoring a controversial equaliser within minutes at the start of the second half, they netted twice on the counter to seal the points whilst Ashington’s recent newcomer Scott Heslop grabbed his first goal for the club on his full debut which at the time brought the scores level at 2-2.
And it was Heslop who caused the home side all sorts of problems particularly in the early stages.
In the sixth minute, he fired wide then on the quarter hour, met a cross from Ben Sampson to direct a brilliant header which thudded against the angle of post and crossbar.
Heslop was a constant livewire and later he drove narrowly over on the turn before he struck another effort which was deflected then turned around by ‘keeper Nicky Liversedge.
Lewis Suddick was next to fire off target after he met a cross by Ross before the home side registered their first shot after the half way mark with Robson well wide. Seconds later, Romano looked to be closing in on goal until he was stopped in his tracks by a great tackle from Robbie Dale.
Back came Ashington and after Lewis Suddick had exchanged a couple of one-two’s with Heslop, he shot wide.
But the goal which Ashington had warranted eventually came in the 32nd minute.
Initially the ball was played from the right, Ben Harmison got a foot to it to set up Jordan Summerly whose driven cross was blocked but the ball ran out to Karl Ross who clipped an effort inside the corner of the net on the half volley.
The Colliers deservedly led at the interval – but those missed chances were to come back and bite them.
There have also been moments of controversy in the last few games for the Wansbeck side and early in the second period, came another huge talking point which resulted in Whickham’s equaliser.
Darren Lough thought he had ushered the ball out for a goal kick but with no flag from the assistant, Romano picked up possession, cut across and slotted past ‘keeper Karl Dryden.
Minutes later, the Colliers were appealing for a foul which was not given and Dan Turner flashed a shot wide.
At the other end, Harmison met a cross by Summerly to send a left footed volley past the upright.
Ashington’s defence were having their work cut out by the lively Whickham front line – in particular Robson – and midway through, the centre forward cut inside then drove an effort narrowly wide.
Within seconds, the home side forced a corner on the left and Ross Peareth was not far away.
Then in the 72nd minute Whickham took the lead.
Ashington were exposed on the break and who else but Robson made them pay the penalty when his pace took him through and after side stepping Dryden, he slotted home.
Three minutes later, it was Robson again down the right who set up Romano but Dryden saved superbly blocking the ball with his legs.
In the 78th minute, the Colliers got back on level terms.
A move started in midfield by Dale ended when a cross from the left by Ross was turned in by Heslop.
Minutes later, Sampson found substitute Craig Spooner who had a great opening but fired over.
In the second minute of time added on for stoppages, the Ashington defence were caught out again and when the ball was played across, Romano hammered home what proved to be the winner.
By Brian Bennett
It was billed as the ‘Match of the Day’ in the Ebac Northern League on ‘Non League Day’ – and leaders Newton Aycliffe and second placed Ashington didn’t disappoint as they played out an intriguing 1-1 draw in front of a bumper crowd of 941 at Woodhorn Lane.
Only three weeks ago, the corresponding clash between the two sides had seen the Newtonians run out 4-1 winners in a game which also saw both outfits reduced to ten men.
On Saturday it was deja vu – with Colliers defender Darren Lough seeing red in the 65th minute and Aycliffe’s influential midfielder Ethan Wood receiving his marching orders for a second yellow card as the game approached the final ten minutes.
The visitors started the better and on the quarter hour mark home ‘keeper Karl Dryden was called into action diving to his left to push away a goalbound effort from Liam Adamson.
Three minutes later Colliers skipper Ben Harmison spurned a glorious opening.
Robbie Dale swung over a deep cross from the right but Harmison – after peeling away from his marker – shanked a half volley wide.
Now it was Ashington’s turn to be in the ascendency and seconds later, Harmison glanced the ball on but Dan Maguire snatched at the opportunity and his effort went past the same upright.
Midway through Craig Spooner capitalised on an error by an Aycliffe defender and advanced before seeing his shot pushed away by former Colliers stopper Adam McHugh.
The home side ramped up the pressure forcing four corners in succession with McHugh forced to push away an in-swinger from Andrew Cartwright before Harmison headed over from the last.
Dean Briggs curled wide then Adamson found Kyle Davis whose shot was off target.
In stoppage time, Ashington went ahead.
A deep free kick by Lough saw Maguire’s shot parried by McHugh but Harmison was on hand to smash home the rebound from close range.
In the opening minute of the second half, a great through ball by Cartwright found Maguire but the move ended with Briggs directing a tame shot at McHugh.
Shortly afterwards, an error in the home defence saw Jack Naylor’s effort crucially saved with his legs by Dryden then Adamson fired over.
Aycliffe had come out all guns blazing as they took the game to their opponents and the home goal survived after a corner from the right went across the face of the goal and out for a goal kick.
Then a turning point arrived in the 65th minute.
Referee Lewis Hardy blew for a handball against Lough and also sent the defender off before Liam Jarvie stepped up to send Dryden the wrong way from the resultant penalty which brought the scores level.
Ten minutes later, Dryden parried an effort from Wood and Naylor netted from the rebound but the goal was disallowed for offside.
Briggs cut inside to curl an effort from the edge of the box just wide before Aycliffe were also reduced in number when Wood received a second yellow followed by a red after stopping a promising run through the middle by Dale.
The finale was nervy and cagey – and the third minute of time added on saw Ashington go close. Dale found Cartwright down the right and from his cross, substitute Scott Heslop headed just over.
At the start of the day, the County Durham side were three points in front of the Colliers having played a game more – but the 1-1 draw saw Bishop Auckland leapfrog over the Wansbeck side following their 5-1 win against Sunderland RCA.
By Brian Bennett
Ashington produced one of their best performances of the season to comfortably brush Redcar Athletic aside at Green Lane on Saturday.
Goals from Dan Maguire, Darren Lough and substitute Lee Mason accounted for the Steelmen who went into the clash with four consecutive wins behind them.
Newton Aycliffe – who topped the division beforehand – saw their match at home to West Allotment Celtic subject of a late call off after torrential rain and consequently Ashington’s victory saw the Colliers go joint top of the division, only separated by goal difference.
However, whilst the Wansbeck outfit have no fixture in midweek, third placed Bishop Auckland who are one point behind, are at home to Whickham on Tuesday and Aycliffe travel to face Crook Town the following night so the situation could change again!
Nevertheless, Ashington’s home clash against Newton Aycliffe on Saturday (March 25) promises to be a real humdinger with a bumper crowd expected at Woodhorn Lane on Non League Day.
On a mild afternoon on the Yorkshire coast, Ian Skinner’s side started well. With only 90 seconds on the clock, Dean Briggs fed the over lapping Jordan Summerly down the left and the full back put over a first time ball which went begging after flashing across the face of goal.
Minutes later, it was Summerly again who provided a deep cross which was well defended by James Paylor at the far post, who headed the ball behind for a corner with Ben Harmison ready to pounce.
In the ninth minute, the visitors deservedly opened the scoring. Home ‘keeper Jack Norton made a hash of a clearance which fell to Briggs. He passed forward to Maguire and the striker advanced before curling a sweet right footer from the edge of the area into the corner of the net.
Ashington continued to have the upper hand and it was past the half hour mark before Redcar had their first shot at goal with Craig Hutchinson clipping a left foot effort wide from 20 yards.
Ahead of the break, Maguire played Craig Spooner through but his effort was turned over by Norton.
Ashington began the second half in identical fashion to the first. Within the opening minute, Harmison hooked on a throw in by Andrew Cartwright which released Briggs but after cutting inside, his effort was held by Norton.
Seven minutes in, Redcar were reduced to ten men when midfielder Reece Kenney – who had been booked in the first period – stopped a promising attack on the half way line as he fouled Briggs and was shown a second yellow card followed by a red by referee Barry Tones.
Ashington tried to press home their advantage which started when Robbie Dale’s through pass found Maguire who crossed but Harmison missed connecting by millimetres. After that, Briggs had an effort deflected whilst Lough, Maguire and Cartwright all narrowly missed the target.
Midway through, Ashington almost pressed the self destruct button as they tried to play out from the back.
They lost possession and ‘keeper Karl Dryden – after initially parrying a shot from Hutchinson – moved swiftly to brilliantly block the follow up effort from Brandon Holdsworth.
Norton denied Maguire and Briggs but there was nothing the stopper could do in the 74th minute as Lough gave the Colliers a two goals cushion.
Harmison glanced on a corner from the right by Cartwright and Lough – at the far post – headed home.
And things just got better and better as ten minutes later, Mason finished off an excellent team goal.
Cartwright and Spooner were involved at the beginning of the move before Sampson played the ball through for Spooner whose cross from near the by line saw Mason apply the finishing touch.
In stoppage time, Norton blocked from Mason then the ‘keeper saved in spectacular fashion to deny substitute Karl Ross.