Ashington fail to build on good midweek win

Ashington FCMidfielder Dean Critchlow gave Ashington the lead in their 2-1 home defeat against West Auckland.Picture by Ian Appleby - www.ianapplebyimages.com
Ashington FCMidfielder Dean Critchlow gave Ashington the lead in their 2-1 home defeat against West Auckland.Picture by Ian Appleby - www.ianapplebyimages.com
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Ashington had recently reaped rich rewards following three consecutive victories which coincided with the end of harvesting season.

But the mini run came to an end on Saturday as title chasing West Auckland – under new manager Anth Smith – claimed a narrow victory at Woodhorn Lane.

The Colliers went into the contest cock-a-hoop after all the euphoria surrounding their thrilling 4-3 success at Whitley Bay in midweek when, after being 2-0 down at the interval, striker Marc Walton bagged all four.

However, although they took the lead against the Durham side with Dean Critchlow notching his first league goal for the club, it was altogether an anti-climax with Gary Middleton’s side turning in an average performance.

James Novak headed out a dangerous looking cross from Steven Richardson in the third minute, then following a neatly constructed move, Robert Briggs and Alex Francis combined but the latter’s shot was weak and easily dealt with by on loan keeper Conor Grant.

Briggs was again involved as he stroked an effort from the edge of the area wide with Grant stranded.

Ashington’s only riposte had seen Glen Taylor’s angled left foot drive following an excellent pass from Kyle Oliver parried around by keeper Dan Lowson.

Ironically, Ashington’s major downfall in the opening quarter had been their distribution, but after Richardson had headed wide for West, the home side went in front in the 28th minute.

The goal was simplicity itself following a three-man move which was certainly direct.

Grant’s long clearance was glanced on by Glen Taylor to Critchlow who weaved into the area and after cutting inside beat Lowson with a left footer into the bottom corner from 14 yards.

Within five minutes Ashington almost paid the penalty for slackness when they lost possession and Richardson’s effort was gratefully held by Grant.

Glen Taylor was causing West problems in the air but the home skipper spurned a marvellous opportunity to double his side’s advantage in the 39th minute.

Critchlow supplied a defence splitting pass but Taylor, in the inside right position, directed a disguised chip from 22 yards straight at Lowson.

It proved to be a significant turning point as in the final minute of the half the visitors equalised.

Ashington were caught out on the counter-attack and when Jake Fowler was put clean through, the midfielder executed an exquisite lob from 18 yards over the advancing Grant.

After the break, Fowler was thwarted by Grant then West skipper Lewis Galpin headed over a free kick from playmaker Francis.

The home side, lacking in cohesion, were left to lick their wounds in the 72nd minute after a lapse in concentration at a West right wing corner floated over by Richardson. The ball fell to Briggs who was allowed a free shot on the half volley from the edge of the box, which crept just inside the post.

Substitute Mattie Moffat – so often a nemesis to the Colliers – lobbed just wide before Ashington’s only chance of the half arrived following an in-swinging corner by Novak. Critchlow’s effort fell inside a crowded area to Walton who struck a shot on the turn which was cleared off the line.

In the closing stages, the Colliers had penalty appeals turned away by Gateshead-based referee Graeme Hopper after Kyle Oliver went to ground inside the area before the final chance fell to Moffat who pulled a right footer wide.

Ashington: Grant, Oliver, Novak, Slaughter, Flynn, Lumsden, Critchlow, Ferrell (Elliott 85), Walton, G Taylor, Downey (Davison 72). Subs not used: Stephenson, Barnard.

Attendance: 221.

On Saturday Ashington are at home to Dunston UTS (3pm).