Ashington make it four wins out of five

Ashington striker Damien Stevens. Picture by Ian Appleby
Ashington striker Damien Stevens. Picture by Ian Appleby
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Ashington have gone from second bottom of the form guide to second top after four wins from their last five matches.

The Colliers have turned the table on its head in recent weeks and are only behind league leaders Shildon on form.

It is disappointing the season is drawing to a close, but with six games remaining – four on the road including trips to Shildon and Morpeth Town – the hope is for the Wansbeck outfit to end the campaign with a flourish.

Sunderland RCA were the latest victims to suffer against a resurgent Colliers side in a game that was the proverbial game of two halves.

Even though they led 3-0 at the interval after an opener from Kyle Downey and two goals from Damien Stevens, Ashington should have had the game well and truly wrapped up as they frittered away good opportunities.

And after the break they were forced to dig deep to combat a visitors side who threatened to stage a comeback after reducing the arrears through Stephen Callen.

But in a frantic second period, both sides were reduced to ten men after Ashington’s Ben Harmison and RCA’s skipper and former Colliers centre back Wayne Buchanan saw red.

From the kick-off the home side were brimming with confidence and repeatedly got behind the visitors defence.

After only three minutes, Andrew Johnson, Adam Harvey and Stevens combined, but the promising move came to an end when the ball got tangled under Johnson’s feet.

Harvey flashed the ball across the face of goal and centres from Stevens and Ben Harmison were cut out by keeper Michael Woud, whilst a venomous 25 yarder from Downey just cleared the bar.

However, in the 19th minute, and following a delightful move, it was Downey who broke the deadlock.

Paul Dunn, Michael Dixon and Ben Harmison linked well before Johnson laid the ball into the path of Downey who fired home.

Ten minutes later the lead was doubled. Again the goal culminated from a flowing move as Johnson cut the ball back for Stevens who slotted in.

RCA’s Callen and Callum Hope then featured with the latter foiled by the diving Conor Grant, who also denied Clayton Davis.

Ashington got a priceless third in the final minute of the 45.

A pass played down the left by Dunn went under the foot of Clifford Byrne, and after winning a 50-50 challenge with Woud, Stevens swept the ball into the net.

RCA showed their intentions straight from the first whistle of the second half.

Within 30 seconds, a 25 yarder from Hope was superbly tipped over by Grant, then Callen fired wide.

Grant denied Kevin Gordon and James Harmison produced a trademark block inside the box before the goal which the visitors had threatened arrived in the 56th minute.

A perfect cross from the right found the incoming Callen who made no mistake with a thumping header.

On the hour, Ashington went route one with their response. Grant’s clearance found Stevens who clipped the ball over a defender but his first time right foot shot lacked in power to trouble Woud.

However, midway through the period, Stevens stung the palms of Woud after latching onto a searching ball from the back from James Harmison, then Buchanan headed narrowly over from a free kick.

There had been no shortage of action and in the final quarter hour referee Will Finnie producing a plethora of cards, including a red for Ben Harmison and a yellow for Buchanan after an off the ball incident.

Ashington had the opportunity to restore their three-goal cushion seven minutes from time after great work down the left flank by Johnson, but when he crossed, substitute Andrew Bulford missed his connection.

In the 90th minute, Grant dived full stretch to his left to keep out a low drive from Glen Lane before Mr Finnie delved into his pocket again to send off Buchanan for a second yellow after the defender, who had been pushed up front, fouled Dixon.

On Wednesday, April 20, Ashington travel to face Norton & Stockton Ancients, then the Colliers are at home to Dunston UTS on Saturday, April 23.

Ashington: Grant, Taylor, Dunn, Dixon, J Harmison, Grieve, Harvey (Gunn 71), Downey, Stevens (Bulford 79), B Harmison, Johnson. Subs not used: Oliver, Hall.

Attendance: 207.