Ashington return to winning ways at Newcastle Benfield

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Ashington regained some form with a 3-1 win over Newcastle Benfield on Wednesday evening.

Down in the doldrums following back to back defeats against Marske United and West Allotment Celtic, the Colliers deserved their victory at Sam Smiths Park.

And the win was the perfect pick-me-up for everyone connected with the Woodhorn Lane outfit.

Andrew Johnson, Glen Taylor and Tony Stephenson were on target for the Colliers on the night when they returned to something akin of the Ashington of old.

And boss Gary Middleton will be hoping that this much needed boost will lead to his outfit kick-starting their campaign.

The focal point of the whole match revolved around a contentious incident eight minutes before the interval with the home side already a goal to the good.

Andy Ferrell – who orchestrated proceedings in the midfield department for the Wansbeck side – played a slick one-two with Johnson and poked the ball goal wards before he appeared to be downed in the area by home keeper Andrew Grainger.

Sunderland-based referee James Simpson immediately pointed to the spot and red carded Grainger for denying a clear goal scoring opportunity, despite claims from the home contingent that the stopper was not the culprit.

Nevertheless, young keeper Sam Busby came on as a substitute with Andrew Leeson making way before skipper Johnson rifled in an Alan Shearer-esque penalty to level the scores.

The Colliers had begun well enough with a shot on the run from Kyle Oliver being blocked, then Conor Grant kept out an effort from Dan Taylor at the other end.

But on the quarter hour, the home side went in front with a fine finish from hot-shot Paul Brayson.

Grant parried from Steven Baptist and Ferrell cleared the ball off the line but it fell straight to Brayson who coolly fired into the roof of the net from 14 yards.

It was a jolt the Colliers could have done without – but they responded positively and within two minutes Johnson and Stephenson combined but the former’s low cross was cut out by Grainger.

On the half hour, a cross from the right by Kyle Oliver saw Johnson direct a thumping header goal wards only for Grainger to dive to his left to palm away in style.

After Johnson had levelled from the spot – nothing more than the visitors deserved – Ashington continued to dominate and clearly did not want the half to end.

Johnson had two opportunities, the first which was pushed away to safety by Busby, the second which he blasted over on the volley.

Three minutes after the break, Stephenson came back to win possession and Ferrell’s pass found Johnson who was thwarted by an excellent tackle in the box by Dillon Morse.

However, in the 55th minute, the Colliers forged ahead. A superb diagonal pass from James Taylor picked out Stephenson on the left flank and when he crossed low into the danger zone, Glen Taylor had the simple task of side-footing into the net from four yards.

Stephenson headed wide then play switched and Michael Riley’s left footer was not far off target.

Grant foiled Dan Taylor then held onto a header from substitute Lewis Scorgie before a rasping drive from all of 25 yards by Glen Taylor was touched over by the fingertips of Busby.

In the 73rd minute, Ashington scored a crucial third.

Ben Christensen found Johnson with an astute pass into the area and when the Ashington skipper crossed, Stephenson applied the finishing touch at the far post.

Ferrell ran the show for the Colliers – but the performances from every player in a black and white shirt was excellent.

Ashington: Grant, McGlen, Christensen, Ferrell (Davison 76), J Taylor, Lumsden, Oliver (B Middleton 89), Downey, Stephenson (Berkley 76), G Taylor, Johnson. Sub not used: Barnard.

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