By Brian Bennett
Ashington were undone by a ‘bolt out of the blue’ at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday as Cleethorpes striker Harrison Poulter’s 80th minute strike clinched the points for his side in a 2-1 win.
In a second period where clear cut chances were rare, the game appeared to be drifting towards a 1-1 stalemate – when against the run of play a blistering effort by Poulter from 20 yards flew into the net.
Even then, in a game which could have gone either way – but one which arguably neither side deserved to lose – Ashington came close to an equaliser in the final minute of the 90.
Substitute Paul Van-Zandvliet slotted the ball through for Connor Thomson but his shot was cleared off the line.
The visitors started the game being by far the better side and in the sixth minute, they duly opened the scoring with a sublime strike.
Ashington lost the ball in their own half and Curtis Bateson got possession, looked up and curled a right foot shot into the far corner of the net.
However, the Colliers grew into the game and came close to a leveller in the 13th minute.
Thomson and Ben Sampson engineered a one-two on the right and when the latter crossed, Dan Maguire’s left footed goalbound volley was booted off the line by Ben Middleton.
Four minutes later, Karl Ross cut the ball back from the by line but when Maguire set up Sampson, he drove wide of the upright.
Ashington deservedly drew level midway through the period.
Sampson feigned to have a blast at goal then weaved past two defenders before he passed out wide for Maguire whose cross shot was turned in from close range by Thomson.
With defences on top, chances evaporated – until first half stoppage time when Will Annan charged down the right. Ben Williams got back superbly to snuff out a goalscoring opportunity but when Annan rolled the ball back, skipper Alex Flett fired over.
Seven minutes into the second half, Bateson burst through down the left but over hit his cross for Brody Robertson and the chance went begging.
Ashington retaliated with Gary Ormston releasing Wilson Kneeshaw but the forward’s touch let him down as he ran the ball out for a goal kick.
Then midway through the half, Craig Spooner found Ross. The skipper played a superb low diagonal pass through the Cleethorpes defence which only required a finishing touch except no Ashington player was on hand to pounce but even then the ball rolled inches wide of the post.
Bateson twisted inside the area before clipping an effort wide then following a throw in, Kneeshaw released Thomson but he was blocked at the near post.
However less than sixty seconds later, the home crowd were silenced when Poulter let fly to score what proved to be the winner.
By Brian Bennett
Darren Lough’s second goal of the season earned Ashington a point from a 1-1 draw against Stocksbridge Park Steels in their Pitching In Northern Premier League East Division clash at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday night.
Credit to groundsman Scott Robson for ensuring that the clash went ahead following the heavy rain but what unfolded was a tough battle on a stamina-sapping pitch with the visitors ending the contest with ten men after Alex O’Connor had been red carded in time added on near the end.
In the first half, there was little to enthuse about with chances at a premium.
Indeed it was the 20th minute before there was a threat on goal. The home side moved the ball across from left to right but Andrew Cartwright’s shot was blocked.
Seven minutes later when Stocksbridge went ahead, even then the goal was a scrappy affair.
Home ‘keeper Ross Coombe dived low to his right to deny Kurtis Turner but from the rebound Jack Watson bundled the ball over the line.
Ashington retaliated with Cartwright finding Ben Sampson who fired wide then a drive by Connor Thomson was tipped away by ‘keeper Harry Garman.
In stoppage time when play switched, Coombe had to be alert to push out a shot from Watson.
The Colliers showed more urgency after the break. Craig Spooner picked the ball up in midfield, ventured out to the left and struck an effort which fizzed across goal.
Within a minute, the visitors had a chance but when the ball fell to O’Connor, he lashed it over the bar.
Shortly afterwards, Ashington pieced together a great move which began with Sampson. He found Spooner whose pass bisected the visitors defence and presented Thomson with a one on one opportunity but his shot was blocked by Garman.
However, in the 65th minute, superb combination play led to an equaliser from Lough.
Gary Ormston and Spooner linked in midfield before the latter played the ball through for Wilson Kneeshaw whose pace took him to the by-line and when he crossed, Lough was on hand to slide home.
Within minutes, Kneeshaw – who had switched flanks – pulled the ball back again but on this occasion, a shot from skipper Karl Ross was blocked.
Ashington went all out for a winner. In the 72nd minute, Cartwright, Sampson and Ross combined but Ross’s cross to the near post was intercepted by Garman.
With time beginning to run out, Cartwright slipped a pass out wide for substitute Dan Maguire whose driven cross was brilliantly headed away from the danger zone by a Stocksbridge defender.
The visitors were looking dangerous on the break and in the dying minutes they almost caught the Colliers out. After a cross from the right, substitute Andrew Ring just failed to connect in front of goal then following a corner, a scramble developed in the home penalty area before the ball was eventually cleared.
In stoppage time, there was a flare up when O’Connor and Ross clashed near the touchline.
Both players received yellow cards from referee Tyler Dutton and as O’Connor had already been cautioned in the first period, the Stocksbridge number four was sent off.
By Brian Bennett
An early goal from striker Dan Maguire proved to be the match winner which sent Ashington through to the semi finals of the Newcastle Flooring Northumberland Senior Cup on Tuesday night and set the Colliers up for a home clash against Newcastle United Under 23’s or Bedlington Terriers.
Maguire struck in the fifth minute, blasting home the rebound after Connor Thomson’s shot had been parried by Allotment ‘keeper Dan Gladstone.
The tie – which went ahead at the fourth time of asking – had been switched from Palmersville to Ashington but on a bitterly cold evening in Wansbeck, it was a contest which never reached any great heights.
The Colliers missed opportunities to add to their lead which would have given them some much needed breathing space and as the game entered four minutes of stoppage time, they were indebted to ‘keeper Ross Coombe for their progress as he pulled off two brilliant saves.
The visitors from the Ebac Northern League’s first division went into the clash on the back of two excellent away wins against Birtley Town and Redcar Athletic respectively – and they could have made a sensational start.
In the opening minute, Ashington lost possession and Mikel Thompson’s right footed drive smacked against the post and was cleared.
Craig Spooner provided the through pass to Thomson which led to Maguire’s opener and the Colliers could have doubled their lead within 60 seconds when Wilson Kneeshaw was clean through but he failed to get enough purchase on his attempted chip over Gladstone and the stopper was grateful to claim the ball at chest height.
On the quarter hour, another chance went begging when Maguire set up Thomson but his right footer was parried by Gladstone.
Play switched to the other end and after a blistering run down the left from Guilherme Baltazar, the striker cut inside but dragged his shot wide.
The visitors were looking a threat going forward and after a run and cross by Kyle Cockburn, it took an excellent clearance from Ben Williams to snuff out the danger.
In the 34th minute, Thomson raided down the left flank but his cross for the incoming Kneeshaw was fractionally too high and Gladstone intervened.
Then just before the interval, Ashington pieced together the best move of the half which initially involved Morgan Dart, Paul Van-Zandvliet and skipper Karl Ross. The latter found Thomson but his shot missed the far post by millimetres.
Early in the second period, Ashington spurned another couple of openings.
Si Jakab passed to Maguire and when he crossed, Kneeshaw headed wide then Maguire got possession on the right but fired over.
Just past the hour mark, Kneeshaw ran through and rounded Gladstone but his goalbound effort was cleared off the line by the retrieving Joshua Stewart before substitute Ben Sampson, Dart and Kneeshaw combined to set up Spooner whose shot was blocked.
The second half had been virtually devoid of chances until the visitors gave a final push in the closing stages.
With three minutes of the 90 remaining, they had the ball in the net but the goal was ruled out for a foul on Coombe – before the home ‘keeper was the hero of the hour.
Cyril Giraud burst through into the area and looked a certain scorer until his effort was pushed aside by Coombe who also pulled off a smart save minutes later.
By Brian Bennett
Ashington slipped to their first defeat in five matches on Saturday after an abject display.
Sheffield FC deservedly took all three points from this contest at Woodhorn Lane to complete a seasons double over the Colliers.
Ironically Ashington’s last reverse came shortly before Christmas – at Sheffield when they lost 4-0 – but home supporters were left stunned by a lethargic performance which also lacked cohesion.
Once Benni Ndlovu had added to Cameron Johnson’s opener shortly before the midway point in the second period, the game looked comfortable for the visitors.
Skipper Alfie Smith’s headed goal gave Sheffield a three goals cushion before Wilson Kneeshaw pulled one back just before the final whistle.
For the opening half hour, it was a fairly even game – albeit with the visitors kicking with the wind on their backs.
Twice in the opening ten minutes, Ashington made inroads inside the Sheffield penalty area but saw both attacks fizzle out.
With 20 minutes gone, it was the visitors who fashioned the best opportunity but when a cross came into the box, Smith headed wide.
Minutes later, Will Constantin had a 20 yarder deflected and from the flag kick, ‘keeper Edd Hall pulled off a double save.
On the half hour, Connor Cutts nodded past the upright but five minutes later, Sheffield went in front.
Johnson turned inside the area before curling a right footer wide of ‘keeper Karl Dryden and inside the far post.
Seconds before half time, a promising move involving Dan Maguire, Connor Thomson and Kneeshaw ended with Hall smothering the ball.
After the interval, Kneeshaw had a shot blocked then an effort by Craig Spooner was taken at the near post by Hall.
In the 64th minute, the visitors had claims for a penalty waved away by referee Daniel Ranson when AJ Greaves went to ground under challenge by Paul Van-Zandvliet but shortly afterwards they doubled their advantage when Ndlovu turned the ball in at the far post from a corner.
Ashington’s response saw a header by Si Jakab from a Spooner free-kick kept out by Hall and Gary Ormston was blocked from the rebound.
However, on a day when their passing was sloppy, the Colliers struggled to make an impact on the Sheffield defence until the closing stages when a first time volley from 20 yards by Spooner went over following a cross by substitute Morgan Dart.
In the final minute of the 90 another corner from the left to the far post was headed home by Smith for Sheffield’s third.
The Colliers were then forced to play out the remainder of the game with ten men when having used all three substitutes Constantin was forced off the field with an injury.
Seven minutes into stoppage time, Ashington grabbed a consolation.
Dart put Connor Thomson through down the left and when he pulled the ball back. Kneeshaw side footed home.
Seconds later, Kneeshaw came close to a quickfire second but he placed his effort wide following another pass from Thomson.
By Brian Bennett
A spectacular goal by Wilson Kneeshaw proved to be the match winner for Ashington as they accounted for Belper Town on a bitterly cold night at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday.
Kneeshaw’s piece of individual brilliance arrived just past the half hour mark.
The forward cut inside from the left before unleashing a right footer from 20 yards which curled around ‘keeper Daniel Moore with the ball nestling perfectly inside the stanchion between post and crossbar.
The goal shone as bright as a beacon as being the distinct highlight from a match contested between two teams who gave it their all albeit on a heavy pitch.
In many respects it was the proverbial game of two halves – Ashington were the better side in the first period whilst Belper had a lot of the ball after the interval.
The Colliers were the first to show in the 12th minute when Kneeshaw found Connor Thomson but he was thwarted when his shot was blocked.
Chances were few and far between and it was midway through the half before the next one arrived with Ben Sampson blasting wide following a corner on the left by Craig Spooner.
Belper’s first opportunity saw a shot by Kevin Bastos touched around by ‘keeper Karl Dryden then when play switched, Darren Lough and Spooner combined to set up Thomson but he fired over the bar.
In the 32nd minute, Spooner was fouled in the middle of the park but referee Givi Todua played a brilliant advantage which led to a cracking opening goal from Kneeshaw.
As half time approached, Thomson was again off target before a free kick by Curtis Burrows went straight down Dryden’s throat and Bastos had a tame effort which was fielded by the home stopper.
Early doors in the second half, Kneeshaw cut inside from the right but his effort hit the side netting then Sidik Atcha headed wide from a Mason Warren free kick.
Karl Demidh fired over then when Ashignton retaliated, substitute Cam Gascoigne slotted the ball through to Kneeshaw and his low shot drew an excellent save out of Moore who dived full stretch to his right.
In the 77th minute, a cross by Warren led to a scramble inside the Ashington box before the Colliers cleared.
Belper introduced substitute Keiran Walker whose long throws into the danger zone posed a serious threat but to their credit, the home side defended well.
Moore saved a shot from Gascoigne with his legs then seconds from the final whistle, Kneeshaw broke from inside his own half and looked a certain scorer until his effort was somehow pushed wide by Moore.