By Brian Bennett
An early goal from Luke Salmon proved to be the defining moment as Ashington marched through to the quarter finals of the Ebac Northern League First Division Cup after a hard fought but deserved victory over Thornaby at Teesdale Park on Wednesday night.
However, the visitors win came at a cost as central defender Thomas Kalthoeber was stretchered off on the hour with a hamstring injury.
The clash between the hosts – second in the table – against fourth placed Ashington was never a classic. However, it was a double riposte by Ian Skinner’s side who were completely out of sorts last weekend when they went down 4-2 at Northallerton, and who were well beaten 5-0 by Thornaby in the league clash between the two clubs on Teesside in early November.
But ultimately it was the energetic Salmon who came up trumps on the night, nipping in at the far post between a defender and goalkeeper Quinaceo Hunt to head home a left footed cross by Adam Johnson.
His moment of glory arrived in the 13th minute and could not have come at a more apt time for the Colliers who had been under the cosh from the first whistle.
Thornaby were slick and incisive as they moved the ball around with confidence and in the third minute, a dangerous looking cross from the right by Elliott Beddow was pushed away to safety by ‘keeper Karl Dryden.
The pressure continued and later skipper Lee Moore fired over from the edge of the area after another flowing move.
But the game changed in an instant when Salmon pounced to put his side in front.
All of a sudden the goal settled the Colliers down and looking solid as a defensive unit, they went on to be the better side in the opening half.
They had chances to add to the lead too.
Midway through the period, the excellent Jordan Summerly and Salmon combined down the left and when the latter crossed, the ball was cleared for a corner.
Ashington went closer in the 33rd minute when Salmon – in the thick of the action – and Liam Doyle linked with Doyle’s right footer missing the far post by inches.
Two minutes later Salmon won the ball back in midfield and fed Johnson who turned but his left footed effort went narrowly wide.
And just before the break, Doyle found Johnson who fired just past the post with a first time shot.
Early doors after the break, it was the visitors who threatened again.
Within the first minute, Johnson cut inside and unleashed a left footer wide then Salmon met a cross from the right by Ben Sampson but headed wide of the near post.
On the hour mark, Craig Hutchinson and Luke Hogan linked well and just as the latter was about to shoot, Kalthoeber made a brilliant last ditch tackle. However in doing so, the defender was injured and was replaced by Yannick Aziakonou.
In the final half hour, there was plenty of endeavour from both sides but the only real chance fell Ashington’s way when Sampson played the ball out wide to Danny Anderson and from his cross, Salmon headed over.