Ashington come from behind to knock Sunderland RCA out of FA Cup

Ashington CFC forward Phill Bell.
Ashington CFC forward Phill Bell.
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TWO goals in a five-minute spell in the final quarter of the game from Andrew Johnson and Phill Bell saw Ashington deservedly march through to the preliminary round of the FA Cup with a 2-1 win over Sunderland RCA at Meadow Park.

Following Saturday’s late drama where RCA keeper Neal Atkinson scored with virtually the last kick of the match to earn a replay, there were more chances created by both side’s in Tuesday night’s replay than in the first clash.

Colliers manager Gary Middleton brought Johnson – who was unavailable on Saturday – into the side with Tommy English dropping to the bench.

And it was Johnson who was involved early on in one of the game’s main talking points.

Steven Jones had fired over the first shot of the game in the eighth minute, but within 30 seconds Johnson had burst into the RCA box before going to ground.

But referee Matthew Dicicco waved aside the Colliers’ penalty claims.

James Taylor then lashed over for the Colliers before Christopher Youldon brought a diving save out of Ashington keeper Karl Dryden.

In the 19th minute, only the woodwork denied the visitors from taking the lead.

Paul Antony released the exuberant Johnson who took the ball past a defender but saw his right foot shot from a tight angle smack against the upright.

At the other end, Aristotte Guerin-Lokonga went close with a scissors kick before the home side edged in front in the 26th minute with a cracking strike from David Gordon.

Guerin-Lokonga was allowed a free header at the far post to set up Gordon who rifled in a left footed effort from 20 yards which gave Dryden no chance.

Tireless work by Bell – who had sustained a head injury and who was bandaged up Terry Butcher style – saw him pull the ball back for Marc Walton whose shot was deflected.

Then on the stroke of half-time, Ashington again had penalty shouts turned down.

On this occasion for handball when a defender blocked a thumping volley by Johnson.

Six minutes into the second period, the Colliers had a marvellous opportunity to draw level when Ross Preston fouled Bell inside the area.

Referee Dicicco this time did point to the spot, but Walton blazed his kick over the bar.

However, Ashington, playing confident, slick football, equalised in the 70th minute through Johnson.

Skipper Liam Atkin and Andrew Dugdale were involved in the approach play and when the ball was pulled back, Johnson found the bottom corner with a shot on the turn from 16 yards.

Three minutes later, Bell had a great chance as he tried to chip Atkinson but only succeeded in gently lobbing the ball to the keeper.

But the tall striker redeemed himself shortly afterwards when he put his side 2-1 ahead.

The referee played a good advantage in the middle of the park, and when the ball found Bell, the striker curled home a delightful shot from the edge of the area.

Johnson and substitutes Gareth Bainbridge and Josh Gray all went close before the final whistle sparked off jubilant scenes amongst the Ashington travelling support.

The Colliers will now travel to face Marske in the preliminary round on Saturday, August 25.

Ashington: Dryden, Williams, Scott, Antony, Atkin, Dugdale, Taylor, Johnson (Storey 88 mins), Walton (Bainbridge 80 mins), Bell (Gray 80 mins), Cave. Sub not used: English.