By Brian Bennett
Two goals in the final ten minutes from Ben Harmison and Liam Smith saw Ashington advance into the second round of the Northumberland Senior Cup after a 3-1 victory over West Allotment Celtic at the East Palmersville Sports Pavilion on Tuesday night.
In a game similar in many ways to Saturday’s 2-0 win over Penrith, the Colliers deserved to go through – but they came up against a West Allotment Celtic side that battled all the way.
Indeed after Paul Robinson had fired the Wansbeck outfit ahead, Celtic got back on terms through substitute Joe Conway before skipper Harmison netted from the penalty spot then Liam Smith scored his first goal in Ashington colours.
A heavy downpour before the game made the surface tricky especially in the opening minutes with several players struggling to keep their feet.
West had shouts for a penalty turned down in the third minute. A ball into the box saw Ryan McKinnon’s header go wide of the advancing Adrian Janusz with the ‘keeper and Connor Campbell colliding but referee Nick Vincent turned down appeals.
Minutes later, Harrison Devine shanked an effort wide then when play switched, Luke Salmon charged down the left flank but his shot went wide of the far post.
There was little to enthuse the crowd but just before the half hour mark, Craig Spooner went on a 40 yards run which ended with his right footer off target.
Callum Larmouth played a one-two but clipped an effort past the upright before McKinnon met a right wing corner by Andrew Cartwright but saw his header cleared off the line.
The final incident of the period came in the 39th minute when a shot from Liam Beeston was pushed away for a corner by Janusz.
Early in the second half, Campbell was through but didn’t get enough purchase on his attempted lob over Janusz with the ‘keeper claiming the ball comfortably.
However, Ashington took the lead in the 48th minute with a superlative strike from Paul Robinson.
Danny Anderson’s ball to the far post was headed back by Harmison and Robinson’s venomous right footer from 22 yards flew into the back of the net past Celtic’s startled ‘keeper Jed Scott.
Jake Forster went close with a header for the home side then Robinson tried an audacious lob from distance which dropped narrowly wide.
Spooner cut inside but fired past the post then a 25 yarder by substitute Karl Ross was tipped over by Scott.
The home side drew level in the 78th minute following a move down the left and when the ball reached Conway, he turned sharply before driving wide of Janusz.
But two minutes later, the Colliers were back in front when Smith played the ball through to Salmon who was upended in the area.
Referee Vincent immediately pointed to the spot and Harmison made no mistake, sending Scott the wrong way.
Ashington had another couple of chances before they added a third with the last kick of the game.
Robinson’s ball into the box saw Harmison’s header superbly kept out by Scott but the ball ran to Smith who fired in.