Ashington suffer disappointing home defeat on return to action

Ashington captain Andrew Johnson takes on ex team-mate Richie Slaughter during the 3-1 home defeat against Newcastle Benfield. Picture by Ian Appleby - www.ianapplebyimages.com
Ashington captain Andrew Johnson takes on ex team-mate Richie Slaughter during the 3-1 home defeat against Newcastle Benfield. Picture by Ian Appleby - www.ianapplebyimages.com
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Ashington languish in mid-table of the Ebac Northern League after slipping to their fifth home defeat of the season on Saturday when Newcastle Benfield took all three points.

Following a deluge of frustrating postponements due to the blanket of wet weather, snow and ice, the game received the green light.

But the pre-match script failed to go to plan for Steve Harmison’s side.

Home keeper Conor Grant had stated several weeks ago that his team-mates needed to concede fewer goals, and coming face to face with prolific marksman Paul Brayson provided the sternest of tests.

Brayson showed no sympathy towards the home side’s objective and was at his lethal best, netting twice inside the opening quarter before completing his hat-trick in the final minute.

The Tynesiders made immediate inroads and after only 40 seconds Dan Taylor struck a shot which scooped off James Harmison and went behind for a corner.

Kieran Wrightson then had an effort which drifted narrowly wide before Brayson gace the visitors the lead on ten minutes.

He started the move in finding Taylor, and when the ex-Ashington man saw Grant repel his effort, fox in the box Brayson made no mistake, lashing home the rebound from eight yards.

The Colliers could have got back on terms with their first threat on the quarter hour mark.

James Harmison, Paul Weldon, Ben Harmison and Josh Gray were involved down the left and when the latter found Andrew Johnson, the ball got under his feet but eventually he wriggled free to plant a right footer just wide of Andrew Grainger’s left hand post.

However, in the 21st minute the visitors doubled their tally following a classic move down the right flank which culminated in a sublime finish from Brayson.

The attack was slick and intricate and when Mark Turnbull found Brayson, the centre forward coolly and qusuperbly side-stepped a defender then Grant before slotting home.

Minutes later Grant foiled Brayson, who had been poised to home in on a quick fire hat-trick.

But on the half hour the game was back in the melting pot as Ben Harmison registered his ninth goal of the season.

Gray supplied a cross from the left towards the near post which was hooked across goal by Harmison and when Matty Grieve was blocked out, the ball fell to Harmison who turned on a sixpence to fire past Grainger from four yards.

Ashington exerted some pressure before the interval without seriously troubling the visitors, and then early in the second period, an excellent searching pass of 50 yards from James Harmison found Gray down the left flank but Lewis Scorgie made a vital interception from the cross.

Grieve had a shot deflected from a Kyle Downey corner then Grant comfortably held a drive from Michael Riley on the counter.

The home stopper kept his side in the contest blocking Taylor who was through one-on-one then a pass from Michael Dixon bounced off Gray and straight into the hands of Grainger.

However, in the 72nd minute, Ashington were reduced to ten men when Kyle Oliver was sent off.

Benfield had introduced Matthew Cornish for Steve Baptist and within half a minute there was a flare up after the substitute had fouled Oliver. Cornish was cautioned whilst Oliver saw red.

A weak effort from Johnson was easily fielded by Grainger then when play switched, Grant parried away from Brayson.

In the 87th minute Johnson missed a great chance to equalise, glancing a header wide from a cross from the right by substitute Scott Gunn, and in the final seconds Brayson broke clear and drove the ball across Grant to complete his hat-trick.

Ashington: Grant, Oliver, Weldon, Downey, J Harmison, Grieve, Williamson (Gunn 70), Dixon, Gray (Scott 85), B Harmison, Johnson. Subs not used: Hotchkiss, Dunn, Taylor.

Attendance: 225.