By Gary Bell
Following Saturday’s disappointing defeat away to West Auckland manager Ian Skinner made three changes to his starting eleven. Adam McHugh replaced Karl Dryden in goal with Karl Ross and Luke Salmon making way for Danny Anderson and Jordan Summerly.
It was the home side who showed first in the fourth minute Lewis Walton broke into the box but Ben Harmison was quick out to close the space and block the home midfielders shot. The ball spun out to Craig Spooner who controlled the ball in the centre of the park before hitting a ball beyond the home defence. Dean Briggs responded quickly to gather the ball before breaking into the right hand corner of the box before hitting a curling shot across Adam Pickford in the home goal and into the right hand corner of the net. A dream start for Ashington.
Paul Robinson was cautioned a minute later for pulling back Liam Jarvis when he looked to be breaking clear but the home side’s free kick was gathered safely by McHugh.
Ashington were in the ascendancy and on 15 minutes were unlucky not to double their advantage. Liam Doyle broke well down the right and his cross found Briggs in the centre of the goal but he just miscontrolled the ball to allow Pickford to dive at his feet and collect the ball. The pair almost combined again two minutes later when Briggs fired a shot which deflected wide. The Ashington striker was quickest to react to the rebound and fired the ball across the six yard area but the ball just evaded Doyle’s desperate lunge at the back post.
Ashington were not to be denied however and midway through the first half Curtis Coppen read an attack really well to cut out a dangerous through ball. He quickly laid the ball into Robinson’s path who in turn played a pinpoint through ball for Briggs to clear of the defence and calmly side foot the ball passed the outrushing Pickford.
The home side were struggling to get any sort of hold on the game though they did go close when a ball from the right was met with a header from Walton was held low down by McHugh.
In the 26th minute Ashington extended their lead with another ball over the top of the home defence, this time by Ben Harmison, send Briggs clear on goal and he made no mistake to fire home from 8 yards out giving Pickford no chance. An impressive hattrick within the first half hour for the on-form Ashington front man
Alexander Walker picked up a yellow card when he went through the back of Spooner on half way and was lucky not to see red when he fouled Briggs on the edge of his own box but the referee waved play on to save the centre half from an early exit. He was however replaced soon after with Callum Monro coming on in his place. Joe Ferguson then tested McHugh with a 20 yard drive but the Ashington keeper collected the ball comfortably low down.
With ten minutes remaining in the half Doyle broke quickly down the right before playing the ball in to Robinson in the inside-right position and his first time dipping effort sailed just inches past the left hand upright. Doyle almost turned provider again when he cut inside and played a through ball to Spooner but he could not keep his effort from the edge of the box down and it sailed over the bar.
The half time whistle sounded with Ashington being very good value for their 3 0 lead.
Newton Aycliffe looked to be more focused at the start of the second half and in the second minute following the restart they created a good chance when a ball into the box fell to Adam Burnicle but his right foot shot from 10 yards out hit the side netting.
Two minutes later the game looked to be over as a contest when Briggs did well to pressurise Pickford into a hurried clearance which was gathered by Doyle who sprinted down the right wing and delivered the ball back to Briggs six yard out and the Ashington striker made no mistake coolly controlling the ball and side footing home.
Briggs was now causing Aycliffe all manor of problems. On 51 minutes the striker was fouled right on the edge of the box and when he took the resulting free kick the ball went agonisingly the wrong side of the post with Pickford beaten. A minute later Robinson played the ball into the path of Jordan Summerly who ran into the box and fired in a right foot shot which Pickford did well to get down to, diving full length to parry the effort away.
Aycliffe made a further substitution bringing on Jake Petittean for Liam Jarvie in an attempt to change the flow of the game but it was the visitors who produced the next chance when a long ball was controlled by Doyle 22 yards out. Spooner made a great decoy run to drag two defenders out of Doyle’s path but his stinging shot went just wide.
On the hour Damen Mullen was harshly yellow carded for an innocuous looking foul on half way. Aycliffe brought on their final sub when Sonni Colman replaced Burnicle and he was quickly involved receiving the free kick and playing in Jack Naylor on the right and his cross shot from out on the right wing was caught by the wind to sail over McHugh and just under the bar to reduce the arrears to 4-1. Two minutes later a slick 1-2 saw Shaun Ryder race into the box but his shot flew wide of the post.
Ashington made their first substitution on 73 when Robinson was replaced by Luke Salmon and he was quickly in the thick of things when he was booked for a foul three minutes later. Aycliffe were lucky however that the referee did not see their reaction to the incident with one player grabbing Salmon by the hair and the other trying to throw a punch in his direction. From the resulting free kick there was some confusion in the visitors defence when McHugh raced from his box to head a clearance. The ball fell to a home striker but he rushed his shot and fired wide from 18 yards out.
Ashington continued to press forward and were unlucky not to add to their lead when good work down the left by Doyle saw him cross into Briggs who just got under his header on the edge of the six yard area to put his effort over. Spooner then fired just over the bar from just inside the box. With 90 minutes on the clock Harmison then sent in Briggs for another one on one with Pickford but this time the home keeper ready the striker’s intentions and saved his effort low to his left.
Karl Ross and Yannick Aziakonou replaced Damen Mullen and Craig Spooner for Ashington in the dying seconds.
Deep into injury time Colman broke into the box for the home side only to see his effort well blocked by Coppen throwing himself in front of his shot but from the resulting corner the ball was played short to Walton and the ball was forced home from close range with Munro looking to get the last touch.
This was to be the final action of the game and probably meant the scoreline did not quite reflect the dominance of their play across the 90 minutes. An excellent result which sees the Colliers rise to fourth in the Northern League table.