By Brian Bennett
There was double joy for Ashington as they wrapped up a comfortable victory over Newcastle Benfield at Sam Smiths Park on Saturday.
Goals in the first half from Karl Ross and Lewis Suddick put the Colliers in control and when Luke Salmon added a third within the opening quarter hour of the second period, the game was effectively in the bag.
The sides are now level pegging at 2-2 after playing each other no fewer than four times during the campaign with the Wansbeck side claiming a league double whilst the Lions won both contests in their Carlsberg FA Cup and Buildbase FA Vase clashes.
But the margin of victory also brought a highly impressive statistic as Ian Skinner’s side went to the top of the Ebac Northern League’s first division scoring charts after taking their goals tally to 74 and leapfrogging Consett.
Over the years, matches between Ashington and Benfield have usually been tight cagey affairs but in a first period which was flat and low key, it was the Wansbeck side who dominated possession and even more so after Ross then Suddick had found the net in quick succession.
They came close to making a dream start too when Adam Johnson had the ball in the net in the fifth minute but his celebrations were cut short as the assistant raised his flag for offside.
Joe Robson lifted over Benfield’s first opportunity then Aidan Haley had a shot turned aside by ‘keeper Adam McHugh.
Ben Sampson drove over on the half volley following a corner on the left but in the 23rd minute, the Colliers got their noses in front after a well constructed move down the right flank.
Suddick flicked the ball over the top of the defender to the over lapping Liam Doyle and when the full back pulled it back to the edge of the area, Johnson teed up Ross who blasted home right footed.
Similarly ten minutes later it was a lovely ball across by Salmon which caused problems in the home rearguard and after the ball had glanced off a defender, Suddick got the final touch to force it home for his fourth goal in six matches.
Early in the second period, Sampson found Dean Briggs whose effort from 25 yards was parried by Benfield’s long serving ‘keeper Andrew Grainger.
However in the 57th minute, Salmon got his sides third. Suddick’s free kick into the area led to a scramble and when Harmison flicked the ball forward, there was hesitation in the Benfield defence which allowed Salmon to prod home.
Ashington continued to show plenty of endeavour and Grainger was brought into the action again on 64 minutes when he repelled a shot from full back Jordan Summerly.
Minutes later McHugh pushed the ball around from an effort by home substitute Mackenzie Sharpe and Benfield’s day was summed up ten minutes from time when ex Ashington striker Ryan McGorrigan pounced on an error which put him clean through but fired a tame shot straight at McHugh.