Ashington extended their recent unbeaten run with a merited 2-0 victory over Bishop Auckland at Heritage Park on Tuesday night.
Glen Taylor and fellow striker Marc Walton both laid claim to scoring the opening goal just before the interval, but it was new signing Martin Brittain whose superb late effort on his debut clinched the points.
This clash between two sides in the top bracket of the Ebac Northern League’s first division produced a tight contest throughout, and although the Colliers looked solid at the back with James Taylor and Ben Christensen outstanding, they had to guard against a hard working Bishops side who nevertheless posed a threat.
It was Glen Taylor – put through by Sam Norris – who had Ashington’s best chance in the tenth minute but he dragged his left foot shot wide.
Visiting keeper Karl Dryden fisted clear from John Butler then following a Dryden free kick, Bishops won possession and when the ball was played through to Robert Moncur, his effort form distance flashed wide.
Kieran Megran went close before a ball played forward by Lee Scott bisected the home defence only for Andrew Johnson’s shot to be blocked by keeper Scott Pocklington.
Dean Douglas hit the bar for Bishops then following a cross by the same player which was pushed out by Dryden, Megran must have thought he had broken the deadlock but looked on in amazement as a fantastic block by James Taylor rescued the Colliers.
Walton dragged the ball wide after a mazy run by Norris down the right flank, then in the 42nd minute Moncur struck the upright for the home side.
However, in the final minute of the half, an intelligent and measured pass by Christensen released Johnson down the right and when he crossed, Glen Taylor’s shot found the net – with Walton adamant that he had got the final touch.
On the hour, David Carson found Glen Taylor who threaded a delightful ball through for Walton whose first touch let him down and the opportunity evaporated.
It was end to end fare with substitute Adrian Webster fizzing a drive wide then Dryden clawing the ball down from Douglas.
At the other end, sub Brittain found Carson whose low shot from 22 yards was saved at the second attempt by Pocklington.
Dean Briggs, Ashington’s second sub on the night, directed a shot off target before, in the 83rd minute, the lively Brittain sealed the game.
Skipper Johnson made great strides on a run through the middle before finding Brittain who from the edge of the area, curled a low right footer around Pocklington and just inside the far post.
The action was unrelenting and after Carson had been blocked following a move schemed by Johnson and Brittain, John Butler had an effort deflected wide at the other end.
Over many seasons a trip to Bishop Auckland has brought little joy for Ashington sides – but this victory for Gary Middleton’s outfit will hopefully be the start as the Colliers look to redress the balance.
Ashington: Dryden, L Scott, Oliver, Downey, J Taylor, Christensen, Norris (Briggs 68 mins), Johnson, Walton (Brittain 68 mins), G Taylor, Carson. Sub not used: Barnard.