By Brian Bennett
Ashington are through to the final of the Ebac Northern League Cup after deservedly edging a seven goal thriller against Consett at The dwmedia Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Colliers led 3-1 at the break and the Steelmen’s task became more difficult when they had Calvin Smith sent off on the hour.
But in a barnstorming finale, the visitors brought the game level with goals from Scott Heslop and an 83rd minute penalty from Colin Larkin.
However there was even more drama as Ashington striker Dean Briggs volleyed home two minutes later for what proved to be the winner.
The Colliers made a positive start and took the lead in the fifth minute when a corner on the left by Lewis Suddick was glanced on by Craig Spooner. ‘Keeper Kyle Hayes spilled the ball and skipper Ben Harmison pounced to turn in the rebound.
Consett drew level within three minutes when David Dowson headed the ball on for Carl Lawson who struck a terrific right footer from the edge of the box which went wide of ‘keeper Adam McHugh and just inside the post.
Ashington continued to probe. In the 20th minute, Bobby Taylor had a shot fisted away by Hayes and seconds later, Yannick Aziakonou played a delightful pass over the top of a defender to Jordan Summerly who advanced before sweeping the ball across Hayes with a controlled finish to put the Colliers 2-1 in front.
Back came Consett and after Lawson’s effort had been cleared off the line by Aziakonou at one end, Briggs picked up a loose ball five yards inside the Consett half, accelerated past a defender and slotted right footed into the far corner to make it 3-1.
And Ashington weren’t finished there either. On the half hour, Curtis Coppen won possession and laid the ball off for Briggs who spotted Hayes off his line and tried an audacious effort from just inside the Consett half which was not far off target.
Sixty seconds later, following a great move, Briggs narrowly failed to connect with a deep cross from the right by Liam Doyle.
Early doors after the break, Doyle made an important tackle in the box to thwart Larkin then Harmison played the ball into the path of Briggs whose 25 yarder was parried away by Hayes.
On the hour, the visitors were reduced to ten men when Smith fouled Summerly just over the half way line and referee Kieran Downey brandished the red card to the Consett defender.
In the 64th minute, Ashington missed out on a double opportunity to make it 4-1 when Doyle was the supplier of another cross from the right where Briggs and Taylor both had shots blocked by Hayes then Briggs had a centre cleared off the line by Alex Francis.
However in the 73rd minute, slack marking from a Consett corner on the left allowed Heslop a free header which he buried past McHugh.
Ten minutes later, a challenge by Doyle on Consett substitute Dale Pearson saw referee Downey point to the spot and Larkin stepped up to send McHugh the wrong way for the equaliser.
But the Colliers rallied superbly from the kick off to regain the lead in sensational fashion when that man Briggs – playing against his former side – took a pass from Spooner to volley inside the corner wide of Hayes.
However with 20 seconds of stoppage time remaining, McHugh crucially clutched onto a goal bound shot from Heslop before the final whistle sparked off scenes of jubilation from the home supporters.
After the final whistle, Consett defender Darren Holden was sent off for the use of foul and abusive language.
Ashington’s opponents in the final will be Sunderland Ryhope CW or Newcastle Benfield who meet in the other semi final on Saturday April 23.