THE date of March 16, 2013, will be more than noted, it will be etched in the history books at Ashington CFC.
It was the day when the Colliers attracted a record-breaking crowd of 906 for a league game at Woodhorn Lane with Darlington 1883 the visitors.
Sadly Gary Middleton’s side were narrowly beaten by a 70th minute strike from Steven Johnson.
The substitute tucked home a rebound opportunity with consummate ease which ensured his side kept their promotion bid firmly on track.
Darlo have now plundered 114 goals and have a healthy 19 points lead at the top of the Ebac Northern League first division – although they can still be caught by FA Vase semi-finalists Spennymoor who have games in hand.
Ashington, meanwhile, eager to erase the painful memories of a 6-1 mauling in the reverse fixture last October, did just that – even though they lost.
A crowd of 906 watched on with little to choose between the two sides until the Quakers got that slice of luck 20 minutes from time in a game which was pretty dour and unspectacular.
The visitors should have been in front after a mere 90 seconds.
Adam Nichols and Chris Emms played a one-two inside the area but the former was well off target with a right foot curler from eight yards when well placed.
Ashington’s first opportunity came in the fourth minute. A corner from the right by Andrew Johnson was met at the back post by Glen Taylor but it was too high and he directed his header wide.
Still the Colliers were not overawed and minutes later Glen Taylor’s cushioned header to Paul Antony saw the midfielder fire in a left foot shot from 18 yards which had keeper Mark Bell scampering across his goal before the ball drifted narrowly wide.
The visitors engineered the first constructive move of the match in the 19th minute.
Jonathan Davis and Stephen Harrison combined to set up Stephen Thompson but his weak effort was easily taken by home custodian Karl Dryden.
On the half hour it was Thompson who wriggled through with Dryden holding onto his shot at the second attempt, then minutes before the break, James Taylor produced a great block tackle inside the area to stop Thompson after Emms had pulled the ball back.
In the 52nd minute, Darlington introduced Steven Johnson for Nichols and shortly afterwards it was the substitute who latched onto a pass from Emms but hit the side netting.
On the hour, Dryden missed a corner from the left by Emms with the ball being cleared off the line before the decisive moment of the game arrived on 70 minutes as the home side were caught out on the counter attack.
Craig Scott glanced Antony’s free kick wide of goal and after Bell had picked the ball up and cleared, David Dowson advanced down the left. He found sub Kerry Hedley and when his shot was pushed onto the post by Dryden, the rebound fell perfectly into the path of Johnson who side-footed home from close range.
Marc Walton, Andrew Johnson and Glen Taylor – who have scored 65 goals between them this season – were well marshalled on the day by centre backs Gary Brown and Joe Tait as the Colliers failed to create an opportunity in the entire second period.
Ashington: Dryden, Grieve, Dobby, Antony, Atkin, Scott (Bolton 84 mins), Godsmark (Bainbridge 68 mins), J Taylor, Walton, G Taylor, Johnson. Subs not used: Moscrop, Slaughter.
In midweek Ashington won 5-3 at Hebburn Town. Andrew Johnson, Marc Walton (2), Mark O’Dea and Glen Taylor were on target for the Wansbeck side with ex-Collier Paul Gardiner (2) and Stuart Nicholson, from the spot, replying for the hosts.
On Saturday Gary Middleton’s side travel to Cumbria to face Penrith then the Colliers make the short trip to Benton to play Team Northumbria at Coach Lane on Monday, March 25.
Meanwhile Ashington CFC held a successful Sportsman’s Dinner at the Marriott Hotel, Gosforth, last Friday evening.
Former Peterborough manager Barry Fry was the guest speaker with impressionist and comedian Mark Langley also on the bill.