By Brian Bennett
Ashington’s mini run of three consecutive victories came to a halt on Saturday as Keelan Grist slotted home a late winner for lowly Pickering Town at Mill Lane.
The Colliers made an impressive start and it looked to be only a matter of time before they would open the scoring.
Indeed the game was only 15 seconds old when Ashington threatened for the first time.
Dean Briggs found Lewis Suddick on the right but his low whipped ball went across the face of the home goal and when Paul Robinson recycled it from the left, ‘keeper Quinaceo Hunt intercepted.
The Wansbeck side were finding joy down the right flank and when Lee Mason and Suddick found Craig Spooner, the full back also delivered a cross that only required a touch.
On the quarter hour, skipper Darren Lough broke up a Pickering attack inside his own half and after work by Briggs and Robbie Dale, the defender fired wide.
However after being forced to reshuffle following an injury to Lough with Dale moving into the back four and substitute Yannick Aziakonou going into midfield, the best opportunity fell to Suddick.
Briggs slotted a lovely ball through but the midfielder took an extra touch which allowed Hunt to intervene.
In a rare sorte at the other end, Grist had a weak shot gathered by ‘keeper Karl Dryden.
Another centre, on this occasion by Dale went across the face before Ashington were left reeling in the 33rd minute as the Pikes took the lead.
After being awarded a free kick on the left touch line for handball, the ball was headed back across where Max McGuckin made no mistake with a right footer.
The home side – now with something to hold onto – certainly upped their energy levels and work rate, contesting every ball and defending very well.
Just prior to the interval, Suddick latched onto a through pass and pushed the ball wide of Hunt but a defender got back to clear his shot off the line.
Ashington continued to dominate after the break – with a strange incident on the hour when Dale was sent sprawling. The Colliers thought the foul occurred just inside the box and when the referee gave a long blow on his whistle, they believed he was going to point to the spot.
However he awarded the Colliers a free kick inches outside the area with Dale’s effort being blocked.
Ashington deservedly drew level in the 77th minute – with Luke Salmon making a sensational impact, as he scored four minutes after being introduced.
Suddick floated over a corner from the right where Salmon’s bullet-like header from eight yards thudded into the back of the net.
Two minutes later, Ryan McKinnon headed across but Suddick spurned a glorious chance then good work on the right by sub Adam Johnson saw him roll the ball into Spooner only for him to blaze over.
Then quite incredibly in the 85th minute, Ashington were punished for a piece of sloppy defending and when the ball was pulled back, Grist lashed home.