Ashington vs Pickering Town
Ashington vs Newton Aycliffe
By Brian Bennett
It was billed as the ‘Match of the Day’ in the Ebac Northern League on ‘Non League Day’ – and leaders Newton Aycliffe and second placed Ashington didn’t disappoint as they played out an intriguing 1-1 draw in front of a bumper crowd of 941 at Woodhorn Lane.
Only three weeks ago, the corresponding clash between the two sides had seen the Newtonians run out 4-1 winners in a game which also saw both outfits reduced to ten men.
On Saturday it was deja vu – with Colliers defender Darren Lough seeing red in the 65th minute and Aycliffe’s influential midfielder Ethan Wood receiving his marching orders for a second yellow card as the game approached the final ten minutes.
The visitors started the better and on the quarter hour mark home ‘keeper Karl Dryden was called into action diving to his left to push away a goalbound effort from Liam Adamson.
Three minutes later Colliers skipper Ben Harmison spurned a glorious opening.
Robbie Dale swung over a deep cross from the right but Harmison – after peeling away from his marker – shanked a half volley wide.
Now it was Ashington’s turn to be in the ascendency and seconds later, Harmison glanced the ball on but Dan Maguire snatched at the opportunity and his effort went past the same upright.
Midway through Craig Spooner capitalised on an error by an Aycliffe defender and advanced before seeing his shot pushed away by former Colliers stopper Adam McHugh.
The home side ramped up the pressure forcing four corners in succession with McHugh forced to push away an in-swinger from Andrew Cartwright before Harmison headed over from the last.
Dean Briggs curled wide then Adamson found Kyle Davis whose shot was off target.
In stoppage time, Ashington went ahead.
A deep free kick by Lough saw Maguire’s shot parried by McHugh but Harmison was on hand to smash home the rebound from close range.
In the opening minute of the second half, a great through ball by Cartwright found Maguire but the move ended with Briggs directing a tame shot at McHugh.
Shortly afterwards, an error in the home defence saw Jack Naylor’s effort crucially saved with his legs by Dryden then Adamson fired over.
Aycliffe had come out all guns blazing as they took the game to their opponents and the home goal survived after a corner from the right went across the face of the goal and out for a goal kick.
Then a turning point arrived in the 65th minute.
Referee Lewis Hardy blew for a handball against Lough and also sent the defender off before Liam Jarvie stepped up to send Dryden the wrong way from the resultant penalty which brought the scores level.
Ten minutes later, Dryden parried an effort from Wood and Naylor netted from the rebound but the goal was disallowed for offside.
Briggs cut inside to curl an effort from the edge of the box just wide before Aycliffe were also reduced in number when Wood received a second yellow followed by a red after stopping a promising run through the middle by Dale.
The finale was nervy and cagey – and the third minute of time added on saw Ashington go close. Dale found Cartwright down the right and from his cross, substitute Scott Heslop headed just over.
At the start of the day, the County Durham side were three points in front of the Colliers having played a game more – but the 1-1 draw saw Bishop Auckland leapfrog over the Wansbeck side following their 5-1 win against Sunderland RCA.
Ashington vs Guisborough Town
By Brian Bennett | Photo Gallery: Ian Brodie
Ashington left it late before a header from skipper Ben Harmison saw them deservedly secure all three points against Guisborough Town at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.
In what was a high drama crescendo to the game, Harmison’s clincher came in the last minute of the 90 – seconds after Guisborough ‘keeper Will Cowey had saved a penalty from Damen Mullen.
Harmison – sent off the previous week at Newton Aycliffe – would have started a suspension but in midweek the Colliers were successful after lodging an appeal, which meant the striker was free to play.
The result saw the Wansbeck outfit pick up their sixth double of the season and after an identical score line over the Priorymen last month, it was a similarly hard fought contest.
Indeed, the visitors got into their stride from the first whistle and could have been two goals to the good inside the opening ten minutes.
Striker Jack Blackford had an effort pushed away by home ‘keeper Karl Dryden then Michael McGee was clean through but Dryden again came to his sides’ rescue as he stood firm to foil him by saving with his foot.
Ashington’s first threat came in the 12th minute when Ben Sampson and Dan Maguire combined but when the latter laid the ball into the path of Craig Spooner, Callum Martin nipped in to whip the ball off his toes.
Robbie Dale made a crucial tackle on the by line to halt McGee and from the resultant corner on the left by Shaaban Mohammed, Blackford’s effort from the edge of the area struck the bar.
Midway through the half, Ashington thought they had broken the deadlock – until the goal was controversially ruled out.
Andrew Cartwright’s deep cross from the right was headed back across by Maguire and Harmison lashed the ball into the net – but after consulting with his assistant, referee David Carr disallowed the score for a handling offence which left home supporters bemused.
Ashington had struggled especially in the final third then in time added on, Sampson found Harmison and when he set up Cartwright, the defender’s effort was deflected for a corner.
Minutes into the second period, an excellent tackle in the area by Ryan McKinnon stopped Blackford then when play switched to the other end, Sampson put Dean Briggs through the middle but his low right footer was tipped away by Cowey.
In the 52nd minute, McGee ran through and saw Dryden deflect his shot against the foot of the post then shortly afterwards, the home stopper was called into action again to hold a drive from Blackford.
On the hour, Spooner – after receiving the ball from Mullen – skipped past a defender on a promising run but fired wide of Cowey’s right hand post.
Home boss Ian Skinner had introduced Paul Robinson and the experienced midfielder was certainly influential in the last 35 minutes.
His first piece of action was to find Sampson who lifted the ball through to Maguire whose shot was blocked.
In a grandstand finale Guisborough found Harmison too hot to handle.
On 81 minutes, Mullen and Spooner were involved in a slick combination and when the ball was played to Harmison, his audacious first time volley from 35 yards flashed narrowly wide of the post.
Karl Ross had also been thrust into the fray and within seconds of his introduction, the sub played the ball out wide to the over lapping Cartwright and when he crossed, Harmison’s powerful header smacked against the bar.
Sixty seconds later, Ashington – roared on by their fanatical supporters – created again with Harmison heading over from a Summerly cross then in the 88th minute, Robinson went down in the area after a challenge by a defender and the nearside assistant flagged for a foul.
Referee Carr duly pointed to the spot but Mullen’s penalty was parried by Cowey.
However, Spooner seized on the rebound and when he crossed from the by line, Harmison send a bullet-like header into the roof of the net from close range.
Incredibly, the non stop action continued until the final whistle.
In the third minute of time added on for stoppages, Guisborough were awarded a free kick inches outside the area and Mohammed’s effort went narrowly past the post.
Then on the break, home sub Adam Johnson skipped past two defenders but chipped wide as Cowey advanced.
Ashington vs Carlisle City
By Brian Bennett | Photo Gallery: Ian Brodie
Dean Briggs scored a late winner at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday night to give Ashington their eighth win from nine matches which consolidated their second from top spot in the first division of the Ebac Northern League.
Briggs – a 76th minutes substitute – netted with a cool right footer from the edge of the area which found the corner of the net after excellent work by fellow sub Paul Robinson.
In truth although they left it late to break down a stubborn and well organised Carlisle rearguard, it was nothing more than the Colliers deserved on a wet night in Wansbeck.
The home side dominated proceedings and took the game to their Cumbria opponents from the off but it was beginning to look as if Carlisle’s game plan would see them leave with a point – until Briggs came up with the all important strike.
Early on in the contest, an in-swinging corner on the left by Andrew Cartwright was met by Ryan McKinnon but his header was cleared from the danger zone.
Time and time again, Ashington’s approach play was decent but then they left their supporters frustrated by a lack of cohesion in the final third.
On the half hour, after a good build up down the right, Ben Sampson flashed a ball right across the face of the goal when only a touch was required.
But the danger was being caught on the counter and two minutes later, home ‘keeper Karl Dryden was called into action, pushing away an effort from Jordan Palmer.
Robbie Dale was next to set up a chance for Ross but the midfielder got no purchase on his shot which was easily dealt with by ‘keeper Lewis Boyd.
Eight minutes after half time, a ball by Mason got behind the visitors defence but Sampson, after reaching the by-line, saw his cross held by Boyd.
Later a corner on the right by Cartwright saw Craig Spooner’s ground shot instinctively flicked by Dan Maguire but the ball brushed against the outside of the post before rolling out for a goal kick.
Again Ashington knocked on the door when Maguire found the over lapping Jordan Summerly down the left but his ball in fizzed across the six yards box.
In the 71st minute another flag kick on the right was met by Spooner whose right footer from the edge of the area smacked against the crossbar and was cleared.
Ross then latched onto a pass from Summerly and teed the ball up for himself only to fire over the bar.
When sub Scott Heslop dragged wide after a ball over the top from McKinnon, time was starting to run out for the Colliers.
But in the 84th minute – three minutes after coming on – Robinson’s skill on the left saw him cut inside before finding Briggs whose assured finish sent the home fans into raptures.
Ashington safely negotiated the closing stages, including five minutes of time added on when basically, they had to do it with ten men as Heslop – who bravely returned to the pitch to soldier on – had a foot injury and all five substitutes had been used.
Ashington vs West Auckland Town
By Brian Bennett | Photo Gallery: Ian Brodie
Three quickfire goals either side of the interval, were pivotal as Ashington accounted for West Auckland at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday to secure their sixth league win in seven matches.
The result – coupled with Whitley Bay going down 3-1 at home to Guisborough – saw the Colliers avenge an identical scoreline against the County Durham outfit at the beginning of December and move into third from top of the first division of the Ebac Northern League.
Craig Spooner – restored to a midfield role – netted a brace and could and should have hit a hat trick whilst skipper Ben Harmison and Karl Ross were also on the score sheet as the Wansbeck side turned in another impressive performance on a gluepot of a pitch in front of a crowd of 459.
The home side began well and Spooner ought to have given the Colliers the lead in only the fourth minute.
After neat approach play involving Andrew Cartwright and Dan Maguire, Ben Harmison laid the ball off to Spooner but after doing all the hard work as he cut inside and beat two defenders, he blazed over.
In a rare attack, West’s Gary Brown had a shot pushed away by ‘keeper Karl Dryden before the Colliers knocked on the door again.
Maguire played the ball through to Cartwright whose early cross was blocked then sixty seconds later, only a brilliant save from ‘keeper Daniel Cameron denied Spooner.
Sampson set up the number ten whose volley from the edge of the area was goalbound until Cameron tipped it onto the bar and over.
West featured as a low effort from skipper Jordan Blinco was pushed away to his right by Dryden then a quick turn and shot by Charlie Watt was held by the stopper.
Ashington had dominated possession from the first whistle and it came as no surprise when they took the lead in the 34th minute.
Following a throw in on the right, the ball found its way to Spooner who drove in from 18 yards wide of ‘keeper Cameron.
The Colliers’ second – which arrived in the 43rd minute – was the culmination of patient build up play on the left which started with Harmison.
Damen Mullen and Maguire then played a one-two and when the former clipped the ball to the far post, Spooner was on hand to volley home.
After going in at the break with a two goals cushion, Ashington effectively wrapped the game up in the opening stages of the second period.
Two minutes in and Harmison nodded in a precision corner from the left by Cartwright before the goal of the game arrived in the 51st minute.
With a couple of opponents in close attendance, Sampson wriggled his way out of a cul-de-sac on the half way line and after swift link up play involving Harmison, Maguire and a lay off from Spooner, Karl Ross unleashed a right footer from the edge of the box which rocketed inside the upright.
In the closing stages, Ashington could have gone nap but substitute Lee Mason and Cartwright were both denied by Cameron then Mason and Harmison combined to set up sub Paul Robinson but he blazed over.
Ashington vs Redcar Athletic
By Brian Bennett | Photo Album: Ian Brodie
Ben Harmison notched a hat trick as Ashington made it five wins from their last six league matches with a dominant and impressive second half display accounting for Redcar Athletic at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday night.
The Colliers – playing their first home game for five and a half weeks – had plenty of possession in the opening period but again lacked that killer touch in the final third.
Yet they could so easily have gone ahead in the 13th minute when they broke quickly from a Redcar corner.
Newcomer Lewis Green played a lovely weighted ball through for Dean Briggs but his sweetly struck right footed half volley from the edge of the area crashed against the crossbar.
Midway through, Ryan McKinnon had a header from an Andrew Cartwright corner blocked on the six yards line then Craig Spooner beat two players down the line and crossed to Lee Mason but his weak shot from 16 yards was easily claimed by Norton.
Similarly four minutes later, Karl Ross spurned another glorious chance after a slick interchange.
Briggs and Mason combined with the latter’s quick release bisecting the Redcar back line but Ross’s side footed effort was powder puff and directed straight at Norton.
For all of their dominance, Ashington could have been trailing shortly before the interval when a snap shot by Alfie Conway smacked against the foot of the post and flashed across goal with ‘keeper Karl Dryden well beaten.
In the opening minute of the second period, Sonni Coleman and Conway had shots blocked in the Ashington box – before the Colliers took total control with three goals inside quarter of an hour.
Showing much more urgency, Ian Skinner’s side had already threatened when Harmison glanced on a Cartwright free-kick but Spooner’s effort was held by Norton at the foot of the post.
However in the 57th minute, the home side broke the deadlock.
Cartwright’s set pieces caused problems all night and when he floated over a deep corner from the left, Harmison rose at the far post to nod into the roof of the net.
Green produced some good work cutting across from right to left and jinking past two defenders but when he passed to Spooner, the number two lifted his shot just wide.
It was to be Green’s last action of the night as on the hour, Ashington manager Ian Skinner made a triple substitution.
Green, Ross and Mason were replaced by Ben Sampson, Lewis Suddick and Paul Robinson – and three minutes later, it was the latter who doubled Ashington’s lead.
Harmison flicked on a Robbie Dale free kick for Robinson whose first touch took him past a defender which put him clear before he smashed the ball inside the far post.
Redcar’s problems increased further as they were reduced to ten men when defender Nathan Guru was sent to the sin bin.
Ashington ought to have made it 3-0 midway through the period when Sampson played a ball over the top for Suddick but his effort lacked power and was gathered by Norton.
However, in the 71st minute, Harmison got his second finishing off a delightful move.
Cartwright’s precision pass down the flank found Spooner – who was now operating in midfield after Briggs had been forced off through injury – and when he pulled the ball across, Harmison applied the finishing touch past Norton.
In the 79th minute, Dryden was called into action to push away a right footed thunderbolt by Coleman before a piece of magic from Robinson down the left saw him outsmart a defender and cross but Suddick headed wide of the upright.
Sixty seconds later, Sampson’s through ball sent Harmison through the middle until he was hauled down in the area.
Referee Andrew Bailey pointed to the spot but Suddick’s weak penalty was blocked by Norton who also saved the rebound from the taker.
However, in the third minute of time added on, Ashington made it 4-0 with Harmison completing his hat-trick.
The goal materialised following scintillating play down the left involving three substitutes.
Yannick Aziakonou found Robinson down the left flank who laid the ball into the path of the over lapping Luke Salmon and when crossed, Harmison slid home.
Ashington vs Penrith
By Brian Bennett
Adam Johnson came off the bench to score the winner as Ashington were forced to dig deep before recording a 2-1 victory over Penrith at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.
After having a penalty saved, Robbie Dale opened the scoring for the Colliers just prior to half time but the hard working Cumbrians equalised through Luke Hunter. Striker Johnson then fired home what proved to be the clincher with just under quarter of an hour remaining.
Following rain in the morning, excellent work on the pitch by a group of volunteers resulted in the game getting the go ahead.
Home fans were left frustrated as their side missed chances but the main stumbling block for Ashington’s failure to put the game to bed even by half time, was an outstanding display between the posts by Penrith’s Aaran Taylor who not only kept the Wansbeck side at bay but who single handedly walked away with the man of the match award.
For parts of the game it was edgy and nervy but the Colliers cracked the code and returned to winning ways for the first time since mid November.
It was staggering that it took the Colliers until the dying embers of the first period to break the deadlock – as it had looked to be merely a matter of time.
They began their dominance as early as the third minute when a clever flick by Dan Maguire put Dean Briggs through but after cutting inside, his heavy touch allowed Taylor the opportunity to pounce and snuff out the danger.
Lee Mason had a goal ruled out for offside then Briggs found Craig Spooner who fired wide of Taylor’s left hand post.
After Mason had shot off target from eight yards, great work on the right by Maguire – where he wriggled one way then the other – saw him find Briggs but the midfielder drove his effort wide of the far upright.
The Colliers continued to knock on the door and when Briggs seized onto a back pass, he tried to round Taylor but the ‘keeper whipped the ball off his toes.
Just past the half hour mark, Ben Sampson and Maguire combined with the latter laying the ball across for Robbie Dale who was upended by Luke Brown as he cut back inside.
Referee David Carr pointed to the spot but Dale’s penalty was blocked by Taylor.
A great crossfield pass by Dale found Briggs on the right flank who pulled the ball inside but Sampson’s right footer was repelled by Taylor and from the resultant corner, a header by Darren Lough was cleared off the line.
The pressure continued to mount as the hard grafting Maguire slipped a pass through for Mason. He took the ball around Taylor but his shot was cleared from the danger zone by Robbie Hebson.
However when the ball was recycled, Taylor produced a miraculous save from a header by Mason. Already moving to his right, the stopper somehow swayed to his left to tip the ball onto the bar with a defender clearing the rebound for a corner.
However the breakthrough finally arrived three minutes before the interval and was a piece of magic by Dale.
Spooner’s run into the box saw him lay the ball off to Dale who coolly jinked past a defender which put him clear before he rolled a shot wide of Taylor and inside the corner.
Ashington were quick out of the blocks after the interval. Maguire and Spooner linked together to set up Sampson whose centre flashed across the face of the goal.
Then Mason and Briggs both had efforts; the first was saved by Taylor and the follow up blocked by a defender.
Despite all of Ashington’s dominance as they pushed for a second goal, Penrith served notice that they could hit on the break and Jonny Murray was not far off target with a shot from the right.
Taylor denied Spooner then Dale, after spotting the ‘keeper off his line, tried an audacious effort from 45 yards which dropped just over the bar.
However in the 73rd minute, the Cumbrians levelled.
Murray crossed from the right where Hunter lashed the ball into the roof of the net from close range.
Ashington manager Ian Skinner introduced Johnson for Briggs – and five minutes later, it was the substitute who came up trumps.
He cut inside from the touchline and turned then unleashed a low left footer from 20 yards which crept just inside the upright.
And with three minutes of the 90 remaining, Johnson could have put the game firmly beyond the visitors when he latched onto a through pass from sub Karl Ross.
Johnson bore down on goal but his goalbound effort was tipped away – by that man Taylor.
Ashington vs Whitley Bay
By Brian Bennett
Ben Harmison’s penalty miss shortly before half time proved to be a major turning point as Ashington lost their home clash against neighbours Whitley Bay at Woodhorn Lane on Boxing Day.
The Colliers, playing in their Jackie Charlton tribute strip to support ‘shelters no home kit campaign’ to raise awareness of homelessness were the better side in the first period and were already ahead thanks to a well taken goal by Lee Mason when Dean Briggs – on his return after being sidelined for two and a half months through injury – burst into the area only to be sent sprawling as he went past two Whitley defenders.
Referee Kieran Graham – who had an excellent match on his first appearance in charge at Ashington – had no hesitation in pointing to the spot but skipper Harmison skied his left footed effort well over the bar.
After Karl Ross had got in the way of a thunderous and goalbound drive from ex Collier Ben Richardson, Craig Spooner went close to doubling the lead when he dug the ball out of his feet only to clip just over.
Then within eight minutes at the start of the second period, the Seahorses turned the game completely on its head.
They fashioned a chance in the opening seconds of the resumption and when Andrei-Vasile Ardelean crossed low into the danger zone, Lewis Orrell side footed the ball home from close range.
Mason put an effort wide after receiving from Spooner then in the 53rd minute, a cross from the right by Bailey Geliher hung up in the wind which caused problems for home ‘keeper Kyle Hayes who flapped at it and when the ball came back off the bar, Luke Porritt had the easy task of tapping home.
Even then a revitalised Whitley side had further chances with Orrell curling a shot wide and the Wansbeck outfit also surviving after a goalmouth melee when a cross from the left resulted in an effort by the same player being blocked.
Ashington – kicking into the teeth of the wind – struggled to string any passes together but as they nevertheless went in search of an equaliser, a snapshot by Dan Maguire flashed agonisingly wide; substitute Ben Sampson fired over from distance; a free-kick by Robbie Dale was not far off target and in the last minute of the 90, sub Damen Mullen skied over following a short corner on the right.
The clash – between second from top Whitley against the third placed Colliers – never reached any great heights with the players having to contend with a heavy pitch as well as a strong westerly wind which produced the proverbial game of two halves.
After a cautious start, the match was six minutes old before the first sniff of a chance arrived when Dale found Briggs whose audacious lob from 30 yards cleared the bar.
Seconds later, Elliott Day, Porritt and Orrell combined but the move came to a halt when Jordan Summerly made an excellent tackle inside the area.
Play switched again with Briggs putting Mason through for a one-on-one with keeper Dan Lister and although the striker unleashed a powerful effort, Lister saved superbly tipping the ball over the bar.
The Colliers took the lead in the 12th minute.
Briggs made a great forceful run through the centre before playing the ball through to Mason who took his time then buried a shot wide of Lister.
Midway through the period, Day had a left footer clawed away by Hayes then Ashington pieced together a superb move which involved Dale and Mason before the over lapping Spooner had a cross headed behind for a corner.
Six minutes before the break came the penalty award but Harmison was unable to give his side a two goal cushion.
Ashington were caught cold by Whitley’s fast start to the second period – and as a result, went down to their second home defeat of the season at Woodhorn Lane.
Before kick-off, there was a minute’s applause in memory of lifelong Ashington supporter Neil Thomas, who passed away recently.
Ashington vs West Allotment Celtic
By Brian Bennett
Ashington extended their winning sequence to five matches on Saturday – but only after Ben Harmison had smashed home a dramatic stoppage time penalty against West Allotment Celtic at Woodhorn Lane.
Following torrential and incessant rain in the days leading up to the contest, groundsman Scott Robson had worked wonders to get the pitch in pristine condition.
However, the game itself lacked quality. In Ashington’s case it was a flat performance – but manager Ian Skinner had already forewarned supporters that his side were going to find it difficult to recreate early season displays due to the change in the condition of pitches.
Yet coasting at 2-0 just before the half way mark in the first period, Ashington did things the hard way. After Allotment substitute Liam Beeston had reduced the arrears from the penalty spot, it was all square five minutes later, as Scott McCarthy swept the ball home.
But after a foul by ‘keeper Dan Gladstone on Dan Maguire in the dying seconds, Harmison’s emphatic penalty sent the Ashington fans home happy.
Rewind to the start and Allotment should have been a goal to the good after only six minutes.
A long punt up field by Gladstone squirmed through the home rearguard and left Lucas Lower-Matondo with a glaring one-on-one opportunity.
However, the striker clipped a left foot shot wide of advancing ‘keeper Karl Dryden and past the post.
It was a stoke of luck for the Wansbeck side who then banked up a two goals advantage inside six minutes.
On the quarter hour, Harmison was tripped and pushed in the area by ex Collier Luke Parkinson – who was making his 300th appearance for the visitors – as the home skipper looked to get on the end of a cross by Jordan Summerly.
Referee Tyler Dutton awarded a penalty and Harmison confidently stroked it into the net, sending Gladstone the wrong way.
What was to be the best move of the match arrived in the 21st minute. A cross from Smith was headed superbly by Harmison which laid the ball on a plate for Karl Ross and the midfielder ought to have scored but saw his side footed effort saved by the legs of Gladstone,
However from the rebound, Harmison set up Liam Smith who lashed the ball home left footed from the edge of the area.
A tough dour battle then ensued until things all changed from the 63rd minute when McCarthy had a shot taken down by Dryden.
Three minutes later, the striker made a run of 30 yards until he was fouled in the box by Andrew Cartwright and substitute Beeston tucked home the resultant penalty just inside the post.
Five minutes later, West Allotment levelled when the ball was knocked over from the right and McCarthy hooked it home on the volley from eight yards.
In the third minute of time added on sub Yannick Aziakonou had a tame shot fielded by Gladstone following a free kick and it looked as if it would be the final chance.
But when Maguire pounced on a through ball by Harmison and attempted to round Gladstone, the ‘keeper upended him and for the third time in the contest, referee Dutton pointed to the spot.
Harmison made no mistake, blasting the penalty home as Gladstone moved in the opposite direction – much to the delight of the home supporters in another bumper attendance of over 500.