By Brian Bennett
It’s been a long, long wait – but Ashington lifted the Northumberland Senior Cup for the first time in 33 years on Wednesday night when they were worthy and convincing winners over Whitley Bay at St James Park. Gary Middleton’s side dominated from start to finish and went into the interval holding a 2-0 lead courtesy of goals from Andrew Johnson and Mark O’Dea with Marc Walton making the game safe with a third quarter of an hour from time. If the Seahorses were disappointing on the night then that was down purely to the workrate from a bubbling Colliers side who had energy in abundance and who sprayed the ball around with confidence and assurance on a terrific playing surface. After a mere 73 seconds, Johnson flashed a warning when he picked up possession and advanced but clipped a 25 yarder narrowly over. But in the ninth minute, Johnson’s accuracy was inch perfect as he opened the scoring to register his 31st goal of the campaign and send the magnificent Colliers fans – who never stopped singing throughout – into raptures. Mark O’Dea slotted the ball through for Johnson who fired a low 20 yarder wide of ‘keeper Kyle Hayes and into the far corner of the net. It was the perfect start for the Wansbeck side who had settled immediately and only three minutes later, O’Dea was once again at the hub of a move which led to Walton unleashing a shot which was saved by the legs of Hayes. Glen Taylor had a drive tipped around by Hayes then Walton fired wide as Ashington turned the screw. Little had been seen of the coast club with James Fairley well off target then ex Collier Chris Fawcett heading over from six yards. But a well drilled Ashington side – spurred on by the inspirational O’Dea – were dominant and after Walton had had a shot blocked by Callum Anderson, Johnson wriggled to the by line and drove the ball across the face of the gaol with just a touch required. However, in the 37th minute, Whitley were opened up with O’Dea finishing off a great move down the right. James Taylor’s pass was dummied by Walton which sent O’Dea through and the midfielder kept a cool head before calmly driving wide of Hayes from 16 yards. The Colliers had been nothing short of outstanding during the first 45 minutes and early in the second period, Glen Taylor had a shot deflected before Paul Robinson fed Paul Chow who netted but the goal was disallowed for offside. Dryden held a tame effort from Chow before Ashington threatened again when Andrew Dobby had a shot pushed away by Hayes. Johnson went close before a third goal in the 74th minute from Walton effectively wrapped the game up. Johnson again caused problems as he cut inside and when Hayes parried his effort away, the ball fell to Walton who finished with aplomb with a right foot strike to record his 36th goal of the campaign. Six minutes later, Chow had Whitley’s clearest chance of the game when he beat the offside trap and rounded Dryden but saw his shot blocked by the retrieving Craig Scott. It was a measured and controlled performance from the Colliers which resulted in a well deserved victory – and afterwards, skipper Liam Atkin was presented with the Cup by Mr Alan Wright, the president of the Northumberland Football Association.
Whitley Bay: Hayes, Brooking, Novak, Anderson (B Smith 65 minutes), Reid, McFarlane, Fawcett (Watson 77 minutes), Scroggins, Fairley (Burns 61 minutes), Chow, Robinson
Subs not used: Downey, C Smith.
Ashington: Dryden, J Taylor, C Scott, Antony, Atkin, Grieve, Johnson, O’Dea (Dugdale 86 minutes), Walton (Bainbridge 83 minutes), G Taylor, Dobby (Godsmark 67 minutes)
Subs not used: Heaman, Towart.