A third defeat in four matches has left Ashington boss Gary Middleton and his playing staff facing a miserable Christmas.
The season continues to be up and down for the Colliers, and although they gave a spirited showing in the second 45 minutes on Saturday, they nevertheless tumbled to a quick fire double against North Shields.
The Robins are on the crest of a wave as they ride high second top of the Ebac Northern League’s first division table after winning promotion last term.
And after bouncing back from a two-goal deficit a little over a fortnight ago against the Wansbeck side, they looked like a side brimming with confidence and were in cruise control during the first half.
They led with two goals inside a ten minutes period from Adam Forster and John Parker before Kyle Downey stoked up Ashington’s interest with a goal right on the stroke of half-time.
After the whistle had gone for the interval and the sides were leaving the pitch, there was an off the ball incident which resulted in Hebburn-based referee Lindsey Robinson brandishing the red card to Colliers striker Marc Walton.
The visitors made a confident and flying start and within four minutes Dean Walker got the better of Lance McGlen but curled a right footer wide of Conor Grant’s left hand post.
Ashington’s first threat came when Ben Christensen crossed for Andrew Johnson to head wide, but on the quarter hour Grant was called into the action again, parrying out an effort from Ben Richardson.
Steven Shaw headed over then a shot form the edge of the area by Johnson was taken by ex-Ashington keeper Chris Bannon.
A left foot drive from Dean Holmes stung the fingertips of Grant who was forced to push the ball around, but in the 32nd minute the Shieldsmen took the lead.
Richardson was the provider of a through pass which set up Forster who drew Grant then fired a cross-shot inside the far corner of the net.
Only a last ditch and superb tackle by Lewis Davison stopped Holmes in his tracks before the North Tynesiders added a second.
The goal was simplicity itself as Parker headed a left wing corner from Richardson into the roof of the net.
An effort from Walton flashed wide before the Colliers reduced the deficit after Johnson had done the spadework. He beat two defenders inside the area and when he crossed, Walton missed his connection at the near post but the ball ran for Downey who lashed it into an empty net.
Game on it appeared, but Ashington’s task was made so much harder by Walton’s dismissal.
In fairness, Middleton’s side gave it a go and two minutes into the second period Bannon clawed down a shot from Johnson.
However, Shields could so easily have put the game beyond their hosts as Richardson was foiled by Grant then with the keeper stranded, James Luccock struck the post and the follow up by Walker was magnificently parried by Grant diving to his left.
Downey sent a free kick straight down Bannon’s midriff but on the hour the woodwork again denied the visitors as Holmes’ effort from 20 yards smacked against the angle of post and crossbar.
Grant denied Holmes but midway through the period only a stunning and quite magnificent save from Bannon denied Johnson the equaliser following a terrific surging run down the left from Davison.
As full-time approached the full back and Grant doubled up to keep out another effort from Luccock before the final whistle sounded which brought the Robins all three points.
Ashington: Grant, Christensen, Davison, Ferrell (McClelland 68), McGlen, J Taylor, Oliver, Shaw, Walton, Johnson, Downey. Subs not used: Airey, Egen, Barnard.
On Boxing Day Ashington travel to Welfare Park to meet neighbours Bedlington in the second instalment of the Wansbeck derby. Kick off is 11am.