Season: 2023-24

Ashington vs Newcastle United U21s

By Brian Bennett

Exquisite finishing by Dylan Stephenson and Jay Turner-Cooke shattered the dreams of a perfect send off for Ashington boss Ian Skinner as Newcastle United U21s went through to the final of the Newcastle Flooring Northumberland Senior Cup after a 2-1 win over the Colliers on a record breaking night at Woodhorn Lane.

However Skinner – who is stepping down after a magnificent five year period in charge – had nothing but praise and admiration for his players who were the better side and who fought tooth and nail to push the young Magpies all the way.

On a night when a crowd of 1447 set a new attendance record for the ground – beating the previous highest which was recorded last season against Stocksbridge Park Steels in an FA Cup replay – the Wansbeck side ought to have punished their visitors early doors but spurned two glorious opportunities inside the opening quarter hour.

The first came in only the second minute when Craig Spooner laid the ball back to the unmarked Wilson Kneeshaw who steadied himself but from six yards clipped his shot the wrong side of the post.

Then it was Kneeshaw turning provider when he set up Connor Thomson but the striker’s right footer hit the outside of the back stanchion.

Almost immediately, Amadou Diallo shanked an effort wide of Ross Coombe’s upright before Leo Shahar drove across the face of goal.

However in the 25th minute and against the run of play, Stephenson broke the deadlock in some style following a clearance from goalkeeper Aidan Harris.

He skipped past a defender before unleashing a thunderous left footer from the edge of the area which screamed past Coombe giving the ‘keeper no chance as it crashed inside the far corner.

On the half hour, Ben Sampson had a first time shot held by Harris then the midfielder found Dan Maguire whose effort was deflected into the hands of the Newcastle stopper.

Right on the stroke of half time, Kneeshaw cut inside but again saw his effort held by Harris.

For the opening 20 minutes of the second period, Ashington tried to unlock the Newcastle door but the Magpies stunned them in the 65th minute when Turner-Cooke added a brilliant second.

Awarded a free-kick just outside the area on the right, the midfielder struck a left footer with precision inside the far post.

Ian Skinner’s side retaliated and within two minutes, were right back in the contest with a goal from the in-form Maguire.

Kneeshaw weaved inside the area and when he had tried to beat one defender too many, the ball fell at the feet of Maguire who fired home.

Game on – and how Ashington exuded every ounce of energy throwing everything at their visitors until the final whistle.

Harris held onto a shot from Kneeshaw then in the third minute of stoppage time, Sampson found Spooner on the right and when he whipped over a cross, Maguire did everything right – except his effort was blocked.

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Ashington vs North Ferriby

By Brian Bennett

There were several aspects that contributed into making Ashington’s Woodhorn Lane ground an emotional roller coaster on Saturday.

Firstly, it was manager Ian Skinner’s final league game in charge and coincidentally it was his birthday. His players made sure that he had a day which he will never forget with a deserved 2-0 victory over North Ferriby before the icing on the cake came when they formed a guard of honour for their boss.

A home win would simply see the Colliers end their league campaign in 14th position whilst even three points could not propel their visitors into a play off spot. Consequently the game fell into the category of being a nothing to play for ‘dead rubber’ – but what transpired was an entertaining game of football between the two sides on a pleasant spring afternoon.

The Colliers ought to have gone ahead after only 90 seconds. Connor Thomson outstripped his marker for pace down the right flank and when he pulled the ball back, Dan Maguire jinked one way then the other before laying the ball into the path of Ben Sampson but he fired over from 16 yards.

Ferriby then got in behind the home defence and when Amir Berchil drove in a cross towards the near post it was cleared by the foot of ‘keeper Ross Coombe.

In the 13th minute the Wansbeck side broke the deadlock – with a goal from Andrew Cartwright.

Sampson found Wilson Kneeshaw who did a tremendous amount of work inside the area before he found Cartwright and the full back floated the ball inside the far corner of the net.

If Cartwright’s finish was cool, calm and collected, Maguire’s strike ten minutes later – after he was set up by Kneeshaw – was venomous. However the striker looked on as his effort from the edge of the area smashed against the bar and was cleared.

In the second half, the Villagers threatened when four minutes after he had been introduced, a shot by Harry Lovick was cleared off the line by Coombe then a whipped free kick from the left touchline by Matty Dixon was glanced narrowly wide of the far post by Josh Whitley.

Consequently when Maguire rattled in Ashington’s second just past the half way mark in the period, the goal came at the right time.

Sampson linked with Kneeshaw who again did remarkably well as he performed a great turn on the by-line before he crossed. Skipper Karl Ross touched the ball back into the path of Maguire who lashed home into the top corner of the net from 12 yards.

As the game entered time added on, a right foot sizzler from 18 yards by substitute Paul Van-Zandvliet went narrowly over then Cartwright and Kneeshaw combined to set up sub Craig Spooner whose goalbound effort was headed off the line by Jack Walters.

After the final whistle, it was nice to see both teams and the match officials applauded by all supporters before Skinner made an emotional journey through the guard of honour.


Liversedge vs Ashington

By Brian Bennett

Ashington slipped to their fourth defeat in five games when they went down 2-0 against ten-man Liversedge at the Clayborn Stadium on Saturday.

The Wansbeck outfit now occupy 14th place in the Pitching In Northern Premier League’s East Division where they will finish the season – even if they get back to winning ways in their final league game of the campaign against North Ferriby at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday (April 27).

However, for some strange reason – other than the opening half hour against Hebburn Town last Thursday – recent displays have been poor and Saturday’s reverse against Liversedge – in front of a terrific following from their supporters – fell into the same category.

In Cleckheaton, they had a great opportunity to go on and win the game as with half time looming and the scores locked at 0-0, the home side were reduced to ten men after defender Dan Hartley was sent off.

The Colliers suffered a blow before kick-off when striker Connor Thomson pulled up in the warm up with James McGeorge stepping into the breach.

The first semblance of a chance came on the quarter hour when Wilson Kneeshaw dribbled across the area but saw his shot blocked then at the other end, Jack Dyche had an effort deflected behind for a corner.

That was the goalmouth action in a nutshell for the half but in the fourth minute of time added on, Hartley saw red following an off the ball incident with Mason Hardy.

Six minutes into the second half, ‘keeper Karl Dryden clattered into substitute Eddie Church inside the area. Referee Matthew Langdon awarded a penalty and Alfie Raw sent Dryden the wrong way from the spot kick.

Ashington struggled to make the extra man count but just past the hour mark, a 20 yarder by Cam Gascoigne was held by ‘keeper Jordan Porter then Paul Van-Zandvliet shot across the face of the goal.

A massive turning point in the game arrived in the 71st minute when Liversedge added a second after catching Ashington out on the break.

Kwame Boateng cut inside two defenders from the right before he fired an unstoppable shot into the far corner of the net.

Two minutes later, Kneeshaw intercepted a back-pass and clipped a shot past the advancing Porter but it rolled agonisingly wide of the post.

Will Constantin smashed an effort narrowly wide then in the 87th minute, skipper Karl Ross reached the by-line. He pulled the ball back where Gascoigne’s drive was deflected behind and from the corner a header by substitute Gary Ormston thudded against the bar and was cleared.


Hebburn Town vs Ashington

By Brian Bennett

For the best part of half an hour, Ashington turned in the perfect away performance in their game against Hebburn Town on Thursday night.

The Colliers survived an early scare before deservedly nudging ahead through Connor Thomson. However the Hornets hit back to secure a 4-1 win which as a result took them to the top of the Pitching In Northern Premier League East Division.

There was almost a dramatic start to proceedings as after 100 seconds, a punched out clearance by Ashington ‘keeper Karl Dryden landed at the feet of Liam Noble whose instinctive lob from 35 yards flashed narrowly wide of the upright.

That aside, Ian Skinner’s side threw recent abject displays against Grantham Town and Winterton Rangers out of the window as they turned on the style.

The Colliers – kicking into the teeth of a strong wind – showed calmness and confidence to be potential party poopers and when they went ahead in the seventh minute, the goal was fully deserved.

Thomson latched onto a pass played over the top of the home defence by Cyril Giraud with his pace allowing him to take the ball around advancing ‘keeper Kieran Hunter before he finished superbly well, slotting inside the far post.

Two minutes later there was almost a repeat as a through pass by skipper Karl Ross almost reached Thomson but Hunter got there first to clear.

Similarly on the quarter hour, Dryden was alert to intercept a forward ball intended for home skipper Amar Purewal.

However in the 31st minute, a huge turning point in the game arrived.

A long ball split the Hebburn defence and released Thomson in the inside left position with another one-on-one opportunity. The forward advanced but saw his effort well saved by the foot of Hunter.

Four minutes later, Hebburn drew level. Olly Martin cut inside then curled a low right footer wide of Dryden which went in off the post.

Minutes later, Martin again produced some neat skill down the left and when he rolled the ball sideways, Robbie Spence fired over.

However in the final minute of the 45, Ashington were dealt a cruel blow as the home side went in front.

Noble floated a free-kick towards the near post where Spence netted with a diving header.

Early in the second half, Paul Van-Zandvliet came within inches of what would have been a stunning equaliser but his effort from 25 yards drifted inches over the bar.

On the hour, the prolific Purewal increased his sides lead to 3-1. He wriggled past Si Jakab before firing a right footer past Dryden and inside the far corner.

Hebburn wrapped up the win with a fourth from Leo Robinson in the 73rd minute. The substitute had only been on the field two minutes when following a long clearance from Hunter, Ashington failed to clear. The ball fell to Robinson who struck a sweet half volley which rocketed into the net.

Five minutes later, the final opportunity – in a game which had limited chances – fell to the Wansbeck outfit.

Giraud skilfully slipped a defender on the left but when he squared the ball, Will Constantin’s goalbound shot was blocked by a defender.


Ashington vs Winterton Rangers

By Brian Bennett

Saturday’s 1-0 defeat by Grantham was a game to forget for Ashington fans – but Tuesday’s goal-less clash at home against bottom of the league side Winterton Rangers was an equally hard watch.

There was an excuse for Saturday’s contest which was played in difficult windy conditions – but faced with perfect conditions on Tuesday, it was a surprising and disappointing dour struggle.

Yet the contrasting results for the two clubs at the weekend had suggested that it would be otherwise. The Colliers were looking to bounce back whilst the Scunthorpe based outfit had given their hopes of avoiding the drop a much needed boost with a 1-0 victory over league leaders Stockton Town.

It took ten minutes for the first chance to arrive and even then the 20 yarder from Charlie Clements was easily collected by home ‘keeper Ross Coombe.

Five minutes later, Wilson Kneeshaw reached the by line and cut the ball back but Connor Thomson tried to beat a defender inside the area and was foiled.

Just past the half way mark, a long searching pass from the back by Cam Gascoigne released Kneeshaw but his touch was just too heavy and his shot was taken by ‘keeper Nathan Popple.

Three minutes later Craig Spooner cleared an effort off the line then Will Constantin made a great surging run down the left. He passed the ball to Thomson who cut inside and his right footer took a deflection to go wide of the far post and behind for a corner.

In the second period, it was the visitors who missed out after having three gilt edged chances.

Adam Bartham charged through the middle but lashed over from 14 yards then following a raid down the left flank, the ball fell to the unmarked Clements who sliced his effort when well placed.

Midway through, only a brilliant stop by Coombe kept the scoreline blank as he denied Paul Grimes whilst at the other end, a 30 yarder by Paul Van-Zandvliet was taken by Popple.


Ashington vs Grantham Town

By Brian Bennett

A finely executed strike in the second half by Grantham’s Elliot Walker settled a poor encounter against Ashington at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.

The goal kept the Gingerbreads’ hopes of avoiding relegation alive with this victory lifting them out of the bottom two whilst for the Colliers it was back to back defeats following last weekend’s 2-0 reverse at Carlton.

Although Walker’s goal was enough to give his side the three points, without doubt the real winner on the day was the strong wind which blew down the ground and on occasions made football almost impossible.

Ashington – with the elements on their backs in the first period – were the first to show in the ninth minute when Wilson Kneeshaw put the ball through for Connor Thomson but his effort was held by ‘keeper Curtis Hall.

Thomson then latched onto a pass from Ben Sampson and netted but the assistant raised his flag for offside and the ‘goal’ was disallowed.

After 25 minutes, the best chance fell to Ashington when Thomson was the supplier of a cross from the right. Sampson met the ball and headed downwards but the ball bounced over the bar.

Minutes later following a centre from the left, Darren Lough made a great block at the back post to deny Walker then when play switched, Craig Spooner cut inside but shot wide of the upright.

Eight minutes into the second period, Bradley Munns glanced a long throw in by Sisa Tuntulwana past the post before the home side missed another opportunity.

Thomson raided down the right and when his cross was blocked the ball ran to James McGeorge – who was making his full debut – but he fired over.

Five minutes later, the same two players combined again but on this occasion, Hall dived to smother from McGeorge.

On the 70 minutes mark, only a stunning stop by Ross Coombe kept the scoreline blank. Tuntulwana found Munns whose goalbound effort was turned aside by the home stopper.

However, within minutes, there was nothing Coombe could do to prevent Walker’s right footer following a corner from finding the back of the net to put the visitors ahead.

The nearest Ashington came to rescuing a point involved Spooner on two occasions.

The midfielder connected on the volley from a cross by Darren Lough but his shot was deflected behind then the number seven struck a low free-kick from 25 yards which flashed just wide.


Carlton Town vs Ashington

By Brian Bennett

Two goals in the second half from skipper Niall Davie and substitute Alex Hardwick sewed up a 2-0 win for play off chasers Carlton Town over Ashington on Saturday.

Conditions from the start at the Stoke Lane ground – a difficult playing surface coupled with a strong diagonal wind – suggested that this contest in Nottinghamshire was never going to be a classic and that’s exactly how things panned out.

Ashington – with the aid of the wind on their backs in the first half – enjoyed more possession but it was the 11th minute before the game woke up.

That was when the Colliers pieced together an intricate move down the left which culminated in a shot from Wilson Kneeshaw taking a deflection before hitting the side netting and bouncing behind for a corner.

On the quarter hour, Will Constantin tried his luck with an effort from 30 yards which went well wide of the target and only a few minutes later – with their first threat on the Ashington goal – Carlton’s Lamin Manneh headed home following a cross from the left but the assistant had his flag raised for offside and the score was ruled out.

Ashington tried to make inroads again with Gary Ormston and Craig Spooner linking well to find Kneeshaw but his centre was intercepted at the near post.

The Colliers then tried a route one move with a long clearance by ‘keeper Karl Dryden going over the top of the home defence and putting Kneeshaw through but Khyle Sargent got back to make a superb and potential goal-saving challenge.

Paul Van-Zandvliet – who had replaced Dan Maguire midway through the half – headed a corner by Spooner wide then a flag kick taken from the opposite side by Charlie Exley was cleared off the line.

Kneeshaw found himself through on goal again but for the second time, Sargent came to his sides’ rescue with another timely tackle.

Carlton took the lead eight minutes into the second half. Dryden failed to collect a corner played into the danger area from the left and Davie bundled the ball home from close range.

Ashington hit back in the next minute but a shot by Van-Zandvliet was easily held by ‘keeper Felix Annan.

Lewis Durow headed narrowly over for the Millers then Dryden pushed a corner by Manneh onto the top of the bar.

Twenty minutes into the period a cross by Charlie Exley fell to Spooner whose shot was blocked.

In quick succession, Dryden saved from Manneh and Alex Howes but Ashington’s afternoon got worse eight minutes from time when having used all three substitutes, they were forced to play the remainder of the game a man short after Constantin was forced off with an injury.

But incredibly, the ten men rallied and ought to have equalised in the closing stages as substitutes Connor Thomson and James McGeorge combined on two occasions.

The first in the 86th minute saw Thomson pass to McGeorge whose shot was tipped around by Annan.

Then in time added on, the Colliers carved out a glorious chance. McGeorge was the supplier of a ball played out wide to Thomson but the striker’s right footer was deflected away by Annan.

Three minutes later, the home side wrapped up the points. Manneh went to ground inside the area and after the referee had pointed for a penalty, substitute Hardwick netted from the spot even though Dryden dived the right way.


Ashington vs Bridlington Town AFC

By Mark Fitton

With only a handful of games remaining Ashington started this match having failed to beat any of the sides below them in the table at Woodhorn Lane. That particular record was blown away in some style as the Collier’s went nap with a commanding performance over the East Riding side.

After a heavy shower on Friday afternoon had left the pitch with significant areas of standing water there was concern amongst officials as to whether the game would even go ahead. A precautionary pitch inspection at 8am settled any nerves of another postponement and by the time the sides kicked off they did so in sunshine under a bright blue Northumbrian sky.

Ashington started brightly and crafted a number of early opportunities. The best of which came when Ben Sampson began a sweeping move with Karl Ross releasing Craig Spooner down the right. His centre found Sampson who almost ended the move he had begun with only a last ditch tackle keeping the scoresheet clean. On 10 minutes however, the Colliers’ dominance was rewarded with a good goal from Dan Maguire.

Another good move from the Colliers began with Ben Sampson picking up the ball in his own half. He again fed Karl Ross who in turn sent Craig Spooner down the right. The tricky attacker cut inside his man and played the ball into Sampson who’s inch perfect pass found Dan Maguire in between two defenders with the front man finishing with aplomb.

The Colliers continued to press and a Kneeshaw strike sailed over after more good work on the right by Spooner.

On 18 minutes home supporters began to think that history was once again repeating itself when Bridlington equalised through Lewis Dennison. The Colliers knocking the ball around with confidence played it back to Ben Williams but a rare mistake from the impressive youngster saw his back pass to Coombe come up short and Dennison finished well leaving the keeper with no chance.

Nerves were settled only a few minutes later however when Dan Maguire grabbed his second of the game. Another sweeping move from the home side saw Exley released on the left. The full back then threaded the ball through two Bridlington defenders to find Kneeshaw on the left side of the box and his pass across the face of the goal was met and side footed home by the unmarked frontman.

The Colliers continued to exert their dominance and skipper Karl Ross extended the Colliers’ lead on 33 minutes. Maguire and Kneeshaw combined through the middle with the later laying off the ball to Karl Ross cutting in from the right. Twisting and turning his way into the box Ross bamboozled the Bridlington defence before driving the ball, from a tight angle, past the helpless goalkeeper.

The game was put beyond the visitors on 37 minutes when Charlie Exley grabbed Ashington’s fourth goal of the afternoon. Spooner who was to be a thorn in Bridlington’s side all afternoon drove with purpose down the right and played an excellent one two with Kneeshaw and his cross, hurdled by Kneeshaw found Exley at the back post. The left full back again showed calm firing the ball between the sticks.

Half time 4-1

Ashington began the second half the way they had ended the first and put the game beyond any doubt four minutes after the restart. A high press from Maguire and Kneeshaw forced a minor error from the Bridlington Keeper. His ball out was met by Spooner who drove at the defence playing a perfectly weighted ball into Wilson Kneeshaw who deftly chipped the keeper under pressure from a tight angle.

Bridlington, who never gave up throughout, grabbed another consolation on 60 minutes. Lewis Dennison who had scored the earlier equaliser grabbed a second after good work down the right saw the ball played into him. Never breaking stride he hit the ball neatly on the half volley leaving Coombe stranded.

Whilst both sides had chances in the remaining half hour, the truth was the game had effectively ended with the Colliers’ fifth goal. Ashington managed the remainder of the game with little in the way of excitement but no doubt with an eye on Monday’s trip to Hebburn Town.

When the final whistle blew the vast majority of an excellent 520 crowd went home happy, knowing that an unwanted record had been broken on Easter Saturday.