Ashington broke through the half century barrier for league points with a narrow victory in a seven-goal thriller against Newton Aycliffe on Saturday.
Entry to Aycliffe’s Moore Lane Park ground is via an adjoining cricket pitch – and for the majority of the contest, Ashington had their opponents in a right spin as they dominated proceedings and held a 4-1 lead.
However, a frantic last quarter hour had supporters of both sides gnawing away at their fingernails as the home side pulled two goals back, and the Colliers were relieved to hear the final whistle.
The final 15 minutes aside, there was so much to admire from Gary Middleton’s outfit, who had the distinction of becoming only the second outfit this season – Dunston UTS being the other – to take maximum points against Aycliffe on their home patch.
And it all began so well for the Colliers as Glen Taylor put them into the lead after only seven minutes.
Kyle Downey, industrious and energetic in midfield, played a delightful ball down the left to Darren Lough and with keeper Andrew Spence advancing, Lough slipped a pass across for Glen Taylor who gleefully side footed into the far corner of the net.
The goal scorer then screwed wide following an Andrew Johnson corner, then latched onto another searching pass from the impressive Downey but his cross found no one in the middle to capitalise.
Visiting keeper Karl Dryden was brought into the action on the 25-minute mark, saving from Stephen Butterworth, before Downey’s left footer was clawed down by Spence.
In a rare break, Butterworth and Daniel Wilson combined with the former heading over from ten yards, then at the other end a cross from the right by David Carson saw the stretching Glen Taylor volley over.
Five minutes inside the second period, the Colliers added a second with a glorious strike from Carson.
Lough was the supplier of a pass which Carson met perfectly to direct a right foot volley from 12 yards over the advancing Spence and into the roof of the net.
However, within a minute, Aycliffe were back in the contest as Dryden spilled a cross from the right and Wilson took full advantage, poking the loose ball home.
Three minutes later, Ashington skipper Johnson made it 3-1 when he steered the ball wide of Spence before on the hour, Glen Taylor made it four. Downey once again featured in the construction with some good work on the left and when the ball was played to Martin Brittain, the substitute floated over an inviting cross for Taylor who headed inside the far post.
Spence denied Taylor his hat-trick when he turned his shot around after the striker had received from Lee Scott.
Aycliffe, who never gave up, reduced the arrears when substitute Danny Mellanby – who had only been on the field three minutes – lashed the ball into the net right footed after a move from left to right across the Ashington penalty area.
Six minutes from time the ball was played forward to Jamie Owens who let fly with another sizzling effort which gave Dryden no chance as it rippled the back of the net.
Then Ashington supporters had their hearts in their mouths when Mellanby went to ground near the by-line inside the area 30 seconds into time added on. But referee Paul Stalker blew his whistle then cautioned the home sub for simulation.
On Saturday, December 28, Ashington are away to Consett (3pm).
Ashington: Dryden, L Scott, Oliver, Downey, J Taylor, Christensen, Carson (Briggs 74 mins), Johnson, Walton (Brittain 46 mins), G Taylor, Lough. Subs not used: Norris, Blandford, Barnard.
In midweek Ashington pulled off a rare 2-0 win against Bishop Auckland at Heritage Park. Glen Taylor and Marc Walton both laid claim to the opening goal on the stroke of half- time with sub Martin Brittain adding the second seven minutes from the end of normal time.