By Brian Bennett
Ashington’s run of five games without defeat came to an end at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday when they went down 2-0 against Liversedge.
A headed goal by Joe Walton in time added on at the end of the first half put the visitors ahead before Alex Wollerton wrapped the points up for his side with a strike in the closing stages.
Consequently it was a disappointing day for the Colliers who had been looking to continue where they left off the previous week against North Ferriby which culminated in a stunning 5-0 victory.
Karl Ross came through a late fitness test on an ankle injury and took his place in a side which showed one change from their last outing with new signing Gary Ormston handed his debut in place of the suspended Ben Sampson.
Ian Skinner’s outfit started really well and within the first 20 seconds, strung together a promising attack which feature Dan Maguire, Wilson Kneeshaw and Connor Thomson but the latter’s cross was cleared.
Alfie Raw had the first shot for the visitors which was held by ‘keeper Karl Dryden to his right before Craig Spooner and Kneeshaw combined to set up Thomson, whose effort was pouched by Liversedge stopper Jordan Porter.
Chances had been at a premium – then in the closing stages of the period, the game livened up.
In the 35th minute, a ball by Ormston found Thomson who wriggled inside but his shot was tame and held by Porter whose handling was impeccable throughout.
Seconds later, a mistake by Dryden saw him gift the ball straight to Nicholas Walker. The number ten advanced but saw his attempted chip half stopped by the ‘keeper with Si Jakab clearing off the line.
With half time approaching, a great run down the right flank by Thomson saw him play the ball into Kneeshaw who swivelled only to see his effort rattle against the bar.
It proved to be a massive turning point.
The board displayed a minimum of three minutes of time to be added on and in the fifth minute after forcing a throw in on the left followed by a corner, Walton directed a header goalwards. Jakab cleared but the assistant flagged to indicate that the ball had crossed the line.
Three minutes into the second period, a long searching pass by Ormston went over the top of a defender to Thomson whose cross into the danger area was cleared.
In the 54th minute, Jakab found Spooner who drove the ball into the area and after Oli Thompson had glanced it on, Kneeshaw netted but the score was disallowed for offside.
Ashington huffed and puffed as they continued to chase a game which became stretched and the visitors – who looked a much improved outfit – ought to have had the game sewn up but missed chances galore on the counter.
Walton went around the advancing Dryden but saw his shot brilliantly cleared of the line by Ben Williams.
Lewis Wilkinson headed over; Walton shanked an effort wide and substitute Liam Hardy shot wide then over before six minutes from the end of the 90, a cross from the right led to a scramble with Wollerton poking the ball home for Liversedge’s second.
By Brian Bennett
Ashington turned in a dazzling five star performance as they hammered North Ferriby 5-0 at the Dransfield Stadium on Saturday.
The Villagers started the day in a play off position but after a scoreless first period, the goals rained in from a rampant Colliers side as Wilson Kneeshaw and Connor Thomson claimed two apiece with the other coming from Craig Spooner.
The hosts were left shell-shocked as Ian Skinner’s outfit roared into a 3-0 lead within the opening ten minutes of the second half and they added another couple to their tally in what was a truly awesome and dominant display.
Afterwards the Wansbeck outfit came in for warm praise from the sporting home supporters who described it as being the best showing they had witnessed by an opposing side for five years.
Despite a three hours period of heavy rain which fell during the night, the pitch was in immaculate condition before the contest.
Early doors, Ferriby’s Joel Shortland had a low drive deflected for a corner but Ashington’s riposte was to fashion a couple of chances.
In the eighth minute, Oli Thompson found Dan Maguire whose ball over the top of a defender released Thomson. The striker bore down on goal but saw his right footer blocked by ‘keeper Jordan Douglas.
Then Kneeshaw chased what appeared to be a lost cause to cross from the by line but Maguire’s effort was tipped over at point blank range by the home stopper.
Spooner had a 25 yarder deflected over before the home side also had opportunities.
Josh Dennett side footed narrowly wide of Karl Dryden’s right hand post then a terrific run by Levi Tarbotton saw the midfielder weave past three challenges. Home supporters were waiting for the net to bulge but Tarbotton’s effort was cleared off the line by Kyle Errington.
Centre forward Tom Corner glanced wide with a header from a free-kick before there was a lengthy stoppage in play following an injury to Karl Ross. Eventually the Ashington skipper was forced to retire and was replaced by Max Emmerson.
The Colliers made an explosive start to the second half as they took the lead in the 47th minute – then added two more in quick succession!
Ben Sampson’s attempted shot fell into the path of Kneeshaw who took a touch then fired into the bottom corner.
Then it was Sampson and Maguire who combined to send the ball through for Kneeshaw who added his second after slipping the ball wide of Douglas.
Ashington’s purple patch continued in the 56th minute when Thomson got in on the scoring act following a three man move. Dryden started it by throwing the ball out wide to Spooner who unlocked the home defence with a great pass which allowed Thomson to advance before coolly slotting home.
Ashington were looking a threat even time they ventured forward with slick passing moves and just past the hour mark, an attack ended with Thompson’s shot going straight down Douglas’s throat.
The pace of Kneeshaw was causing the Villagers endless problems and another run saw him cut the ball back which was cleared for a corner with Emmerson just off target from the resultant flag kick.
However, midway through the period, the Colliers were caught out when Josh Whitley latched onto a through pass and skipped past the advancing Dryden. However as a handful of defenders raced back to cover, it was Errington who again cleared off the line to foil the home number ten.
Ten minutes later, referee Macauley Gibson awarded the visitors a penalty after Kneeshaw went to ground inside the area and Thomson sent Douglas the wrong way from the spot to make it 4-0.
In the 84th minute, Ashington introduced Morgan Dart and the substitute could have made a sensational start to his career with the club. Within 30 seconds, he was clean through with only Douglas to beat but saw his shot clip the heel of the ‘keeper and roll behind for a corner.
However from the flag kick, Ashington went nap when Spooner’s in-swinger went directly into the net at the near post.
Ashington were exceptional in the second half and there was much to admire about them in the first half too. The result made it four wins and a draw from their last five matches which saw them climb to ninth place in the league and second top of the current form table.
By Brian Bennett
Ashington steamrolled past an in-form Carlton Town side to record a brilliant 4-0 victory at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday – when the key word of the afternoon was pace!
The Colliers have come up against varying styles in the Northern Premier League’s East Division – but they made it three wins and a draw from their last four matches after dominating this encounter from start to finish in front of another excellent crowd of over 500.
Early in the contest, Connor Thomson and Dan Maguire were on target for Ian Skinner’s side then in similar fashion, substitute Oli Thompson and Connor Thomson added strikes after the break.
It was also a game which although never feisty saw referee Sam Parnaby brandish eleven yellow cards which included six – plus one red – for the away side.
Before kick-off the players, officials and supporters observed an impeccable minutes silence for Armistice Day.
On a gluepot of a pitch, the Wansbeck outfit had assurance in defence; energy in abundance in midfield and pace upfront – and starting on the front foot they exerted their authority on matters with two quickfire goals.
In the fourth minute, Jordan Summerly hit a shot straight at ‘keeper Felix Annan but seconds later, Maguire’s pass through the middle released Thomson and the striker burst forward before firing a right footer into the net.
Ashington doubled their lead when Ben Sampson played the ball out wide and when it was crossed low into the box, Thomson glanced it on for the unmarked Maguire to side foot home.
The Colliers continued to press, looking a threat every time they ventured forward and a through pass by Thomson for Wilson Kneeshaw just had too much pace on it which allowed Annan to clear.
Midway through the half, another great move – again on the right – cut Carlton open as Spooner jinked inside and worked a swift one-two with Thomson before the former clipped his effort narrowly wide of the far post.
However, Ashington were presented with an unwanted new challenge during the first period when they were hit by a spate of injuries.
Just past the quarter hour mark, they lost defender Darren Lough who was replaced by Cam Gascoigne then within the space of a couple of minutes Summerly and Gascoigne were also forced off.
It meant that with at least 55 minutes remaining, Ashington had used up their maximum allowance of being able to field three substitutes.
In first half stoppage time, Kneeshaw and Thomson could have added a third for the Colliers.
Substitute Matty Dopson raided down the left flank and when he found Kneeshaw on the edge of the area, the forward made space for himself but lashed his shot over the bar. Then Thomson found himself in the clear but he was denied by Annan who saved with his legs.
Pace came to the fore at the beginning of the second half as within the opening ten minutes, a dominant and irrepressible Ashington outfit cruised into a 4-0 lead.
In the 49th minute, skipper Karl Ross found Thompson on the right who ghosted past a defender then swept the ball wide of Annan and inside the far post.
The home sides fourth came after a run by Kneeshaw which started in his own half. He outstripped three defenders with his blistering pace before laying the ball into the path of Thomson who made no mistake.
Niall Hylton fired wide for the visitors who were reduced to ten men in the 79th minute when Alex Hardwick was red carded after an off-the-ball incident near the half way line.
In the closing stages, Thomson unleashed a drive which went narrowly over then the same player dragged a shot wide on the turn at the near post.
By Brian Bennett
Ashington were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw against Grantham Town at the South Kesteven Sports ground on Saturday, despite taking the lead on two occasions.
The upside of the result was that the Colliers extended their unbeaten run to three matches. However they should have returned home with all three points even though they were forced to play the last half hour with only ten men after midfielder Paul Van-Zandvliet was red carded for a tackle.
On-loan striker Connor Thomson scored with an early penalty but Grantham levelled through Luke Hinsley. Barely 40 seconds later, a cross by Thomson was turned into his own net by Sam Muggleton before skipper Greg Smith levelled for the hosts.
At 1-0, the Colliers had two great opportunities to double their lead through Thomson and Craig Spooner and they proved to be massive turning points with Grantham’s Muggleton instrumental in the home goals.
For the majority of the game, Ashington coped well Muggleton’s long throws but he had the final say with both of Grantham’s strikes coming after his deliveries into the danger zone.
On a miserable afternoon, Ashington made a great start to the game and took the lead in the sixth minute.
Oli Thompson was upended inside the box by Smith and Thomson sent ‘keeper Curtis Hall the wrong way from the spot.
In the 20th minute the Wansbeck outfit put together a good move which ended with Spooner curling a shot just wide then just shy of the half hour mark, it should have been 2-0 but Thomson missed a sitter.
Van-Zandvliet sprayed a pass out on the left to Wilson Kneeshaw who cut along the by line and squared to Thomson but he ballooned the ball over from close range.
At the other end a cross by Curtis Morrison went across the face of the Ashington goal; ‘keeper Karl Dryden was forced to tip a throw in by Muggleton over the bar then in stoppage time, Smith headed narrowly over.
Twenty seconds into the second half, the woodwork denied the Colliers. Again the construction of the move which involved Thompson, Thomson and Summerly saw the latter find Spooner on the right.
The midfielder jinked inside before looking on as his left footer smacked against the base of the post and rebounded straight into Hall’s arms.
Grantham equalised in the 51st minute when Muggleton’s throw into the area found Hinsley who hooked home left footed into the roof of the net.
However Ashington hit back immediately to regain the lead.
Thomson’s pace took him past a defender and when he crossed the ball low from the left, Muggleton turned it into his own net.
On the hour, two talking points occurred. Van-Zandvliet was sent off then Kneeshaw – looking to tap the ball home after taking it past Hall – went down under challenge from the ‘keeper but the referee waved aside appeals for a penalty.
Grantham fired a warning when Hinsley had a goal ruled out for offside but two minutes later they were level when Muggleton’s throw caused problems and Smith side footed home.
To their credit, Ashington – despite being reduced in number – continued on the front foot.
Substitute Cam Gascoigne had a shot deflected for a corner then fellow sub Ben Sampson saw his effort blocked.