TWO goals in the space of three minutes during the second half from Paul Antony and Andrew Johnson clinched victory for Ashington against league newcomers Team Northumbria at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.
In a closely contested affair where both sides played some good football during a goalless first half, it was beginning to look as if it would take something out of the ordinary to have a telling effect.
And it fell the way of the Colliers on the hour with Antony notching his first goal of the season – against one of his former clubs.
Within seconds of being introduced as a substitute, Chris Bell forced a corner on the left following a cross from Gareth Williams, and from the ensuing kick, Antony played a one-two with Andrew Dobby before firing in a cross-shot which flew over keeper Andrew Jennison.
Simplicity was the name of the game as minutes later Johnson scored his seventh of the campaign.
Dobby restarted play with a throw-in down the left where he found Marc Walton. The forward cut along the by-line to stab the ball across the face of the goal with Johnson having the easy task of applying the finishing touch from close range.
From there the Colliers were rarely troubled as they themselves went in search of a third which would have effectively killed the game off.
And Mark O’Dea came close in the 68th minute when he picked up a pass from Johnson and looked on as Jennison got his fingertips to a left foot drive which hit the underside of the bar and was cleared.
Graeme Cairns fired over Team Northumbria’s best opening of the second period before Walton accepted a ball from substitute Andrew Dugdale and after his initial shot had been blocked by Jennison, his second effort saw him drive wide of the far post.
O’Dea, Johnson and Walton then schemed a move which ended with Johnson’s shot being blocked by the keeper.
Midway through the period, Christian Graham struck the foot of the post but was whistled up for offside before the Colliers finished the half strongly.
Craig Scott and Louis Storey set up O’Dea, whose rising effort from 14 yards was tipped over by Jennison.
Within a minute, Johnson chested the ball down for Antony whose drive from fully 25 yards just went the wrong side of the upright.
Jennison again thwarted Johnson but the keeper was stationery and could only look on with relief in the 53rd minute when Johnson’s drive from a Callum Little pass, arced just past the post.
Little supplied that man Johnson in the 58th minute whose left foot volley was held by Jennison – before Antony broke the deadlock and the Colliers never looked back from that point.
Ashington: Dryden, Williams (Bainbridge 82 mins), Scott, Antony, Atkin, Dobby, Storey, O’Dea (Dugdale 75 mins), Walton, Johnson, Little (Bell 60 mins). Sub not used: Benjamin.
On Saturday Ashington are away to Guisborough then face defending league champions Spennymoor Town at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday, October 2, with a 7.30pm kick-off.
In midweek, Andrew Johnson gave Ashington the lead against Bishop Auckland in the Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup at Heritage Park.
But shortly before half-time, the home side’s own Andrew Johnson levelled with a glancing header from a Sonny Andrews free kick.
The game appeared to be heading for extra time when Bishops scored three times inside eight minutes to book their passage into the next round and a home tie against Marske United.
Johnson headed home in the 77th minute; Andrews stabbed in three minutes later then the same player made it 4-1 after another slick move.