By Brian Bennett
A late goal by substitute Bobby Taylor brought Ashington victory in their Ebac Northern League first division clash against Sunderland RCA at the LGV Park ground on Saturday.
Taylor’s 82nd minute strike eventually swung the pendulum in favour of the Colliers – deciding a match which sat in the balance and could have gone either way – but they were given a run for their money by a well drilled side that battled and scrapped from the first whistle.
The previous weekend, Ashington had played their first game for three and a half weeks when they beat Penrith at Woodhorn Lane. On Saturday, it was RCA’s first outing for a month – and fitness levels proved to be a significant factor during the final 20 minutes as the home side tired whilst the Colliers got stronger and stronger.
The visitors made the brighter start and with only 75 seconds on the clock, Ben Sampson and Danny Anderson linked on the right to set up Dean Briggs who cut inside and whipped a left foot shot narrowly wide of the upright.
However, the home outfit grew into the contest to gain the upper hand and in the ninth minute, they were denied by the woodwork.
Full back Kieran Charlton’s in-swinging corner on the right was met by Ben Errington whose header thudded against the post with Mark Davison’s follow up being cleared by Ashington skipper Ben Harmison.
Five minutes later, it was Curtis Coppen to the rescue, clearing the ball off the line after Michael Annang-Colquhoun had burst clear down the right and chipped the ball over advancing ‘keeper Karl Dryden.
But in a half where chances were at a premium, the final opportunity fell Ashington’s way after they had forced a corner on the left.
Anderson and Paul Robinson combined neatly and after the latter had weaved one way then the other, his right foot curler flashed just wide of the post.
Early in the second half, a ball played in by Robinson from a corner was pushed out by ‘keeper Keaton Marrs but shortly afterwards when Ashington were under pressure, Colquhoun was foiled by Dryden and Davison squandered a marvellous chance as he blasted the rebound wide.
Minutes later, Dryden thwarted Davison on two occasions, firstly saving with his feet then blocking the ball to his left.
Ashington manager Ian Skinner made a double change shortly before the half way mark introducing Taylor and Jordan Lashley for Craig Spooner and Robinson whilst switching Briggs into midfield.
As in the first period, chances evaporated and the next one came on the 73 minutes mark with Briggs glancing over a free kick from Anderson.
Nine minutes later Taylor broke the deadlock.
Liam Doyle found Briggs down the left and when his cross was headed out, the ball fell into the path of Taylor who unleashed a terrific low drive from 20 yards which beat Marrs at his near post and found the net.
In a nerve-jangling finale, a shot by Davison deflected off Harmison for a corner then in a swift counter attack, Ashington had a chance to seal the contest when Taylor laid the ball on a plate for Adam Johnson but he was denied by a great block from a home defender.
The final whistle brought the Colliers their first away win at RCA since the 2014/15 campaign, the same season when – along with this term – they also completed a season’s double over the Wearsiders.