Ashington on fire in front of goal

Ashington CFC's Andrew Johnson.
Ashington CFC's Andrew Johnson.

WHAT a week is has been for Ashington CFC – who now look forward to a near month of what can only be described as mouthwatering fixtures against Spennymoor, Shildon, Whitley Bay and Dunston.

Following hard on the heels of a 7-1 trouncing against Bishop Auckland in midweek, Gary Middleton’s side – brimful with confidence – delivered a similar performance and consequent goals glut on home soil to a shell shocked Penrith side on Saturday.

Many observers thought the loss of talismanic striker Jamie Clarke to Whitby was a severe blow to a settled side, but Clarke’s departure has been offset by the return of Phill Bell, who has made a sensational start to his second spell with the Colliers.

Bell, who netted a career best five goals in the win against Bishop Auckland, added another two at a windswept Woodhorn Lane ground on Saturday.

Kicking with the assistance of the wind, Bell started the ball rolling in the fifth minute from the penalty spot.

Andrew Johnson, who was to play a key role in this latest demolition with two assists coupled to a hat-trick, latched onto a pass from Craig Scott and after his shot had been blocked by James Holland, as the two players headed away from goal to chase the rebound, the keeper sent Johnson sprawling and referee Shaun Hudson immediately pointed to the spot.

Holland was then yellow carded for dissent before Bell sent him the wrong way with a powerfully struck penalty.

Ashington continued to apply pressure with James Taylor denied by Holland, then after Bell had found Jonny Godsmark on the right, his first time cross saw the visiting stopper claim the ball before the incoming Damen Mullen.

Midway through the half, a free kick from fully 35 yards by Johnson was partly saved by Holland with the keeper tipping over the rebound effort from Scott.

However, Holland was left clasping fresh air when the home side doubled their lead in the 25th minute.

Mark O’Dea supplied a through pass which saw Johnson take one touch then sweep the ball home from 22 yards.

Minutes later, Gareth Rees was foiled at the back post – but the Cumbrians failed to heed the warning and paid the ultimate penalty in the 34th minute.

From an identical inswinging corner by Mullen, Rees again saw his effort blocked but when the ball broke to Johnson, the midfielder swivelled on a sixpence to fire home.

Ashington had been totally dominant in the opening period, carving the visitors defence open with regularity.

Penrith had not mustered a single effort at goal in the opening 45 minutes, but to their credit they came into the game after the break.

On 50 minutes, breaking from an Ashington corner, Martyn Coleman raided down the left before finding Willie Paul whose right footer was narrowly wide of the far post.

Karl Dryden – a spectator in the first half – made a splendid save to deny Ben Jackson then Coleman fired in an effort which the keeper gathered.

However, in a frenetic period, four goals were scored inside five minutes.

Rees made it 4-0 in the 78th minute, not breaking stride to hammer a half volley from 12 yards into the corner after a crossfield pass from Liam Atkin.

But two minutes later, Penrith got one back when Paul unleashed a right footer from 20 yards which squeezed between Dryden and the upright.

However, 60 seconds later, Ashington went nap with a classic strike.

James Taylor’s diagonal pass found Johnson on the right and with only Holland to beat, the midfielder unselfishly laid the ball square and on a plate for the incoming Bell who side footed home.

Johnson then completed his hat-trick. He received the ball from substitute Dean Deagle and caught Holland unawares with a first time shot delivered with his left foot which went across the keeper and inside the far corner of the net.

Before the final whistle, fellow substitute Gareth Bainbridge had a great opportunity to make it seven but lobbed the ball wide.

On Saturday, Ashington travel to face Spennymoor in the third round proper of the FA Carlsberg Vase. Provided there is no replay, the Colliers will then be away to Shildon on Wednesday, December 7.

Ashington: Dryden, Buzzeo, Scott, Taylor, Atkin, Rees, Johnson, O’Dea (Dugdale 78 mins), Bell, Godsmark (Bainbridge 75 mins), Mullen (Deagle 50 mins). Subs not used: Grieve, Morris.

Attendance: 191.