ASHINGTON’S unbeaten run of seven matches came to an end on Saturday as substitute Dion Raitt scored a late winner to give Bishop Auckland victory at Woodhorn Lane.
The Colliers’ previous defeat had been a 6-1 reverse by Darlington 1883, then after a 2-2 draw at home to Penrith, a period of 434 minutes came where they were defensively watertight by not conceding a goal.
And despite a couple of nervy moments, another clean sheet appeared to be on the cards last weekend until Bishops produced a shock with Raitt’s 89th minute effort.
As a result, the Durham-based outfit climbed up to fourth place in the first division whilst Gary Middleton’s side sit in mid-table.
But the Wansbeck club now put the league on temporary hold and instead concentrate on the FA Carlsberg Vase.
There was little in the way of goalmouth action during the first quarter, Dan Hawkins firing over then Andrew Johnson for Ashington beating the offside trap but trying to square the ball for Marc Walton and looking on as a defender cleared.
Hawkins clipped another half chance wide which was followed by a poor clearance from Karl Dryden being picked up by Johnson who found Glen Taylor but his cross struck Walton and drifted behind for a goal kick.
Johnson and Taylor were again involved in the next construction in midfield and when the latter played the ball to the far post, Walton smashed a left foot volley wide.
The home side again got themselves into a good position when Craig Scott played a one-two with Darren Lough but Scott’s cross skimmed off the head of Johnson and across the face of goal.
Play switched and after Dryden had tipped around from Jamie Harwood, the keeper dived to his left to clutch a header from Stephen Salvin from the resultant corner on the right.
Ashington’s best opening of the half came in the 39th minute when Walton played a precision pass over the top of the Bishops defence which released Johnson with a one-on-one through the middle, but his shot was deflected by a retrieving defender.
Seconds from the break, only the woodwork prevented Bishops from taking the lead as Andrew Johnson’s effort smacked against the post with the rebound effort being cleared off the line by Liam Atkin.
Early in the second period, keeper Peter Jeffries was called into the action touching away a 30 yards free kick from Walton, then the stopper denied Johnson after a punt from Dryden had bisected the Bishops backline.
On the hour, Dryden kept out Harwood with Paul Antony making a great tackle to prevent a certain score from the rebound, and it was Antony who five minutes later released Johnson but the striker again squandered a one-on-one opportunity in firing straight at Jeffries.
After a dull first half, the action was intense after the break and Ashington – who held the upper hand – thought they had unlocked the door in the 80th minute with Antony the provider of a diagonal pass which saw Glen Taylor’s instinctive left foot volley smash against the crossbar.
Matty Grieve then cleared off the line to deny Johnson before James Taylor hooked the ball out to Glen Taylor and from his glanced on header, Walton’s volley was blocked by Jeffries.
The Colliers had camped in the Bishops half for the final 20 minutes – but the home side were stung in the 89th when Dale Jardine crossed from the right and Raitt – inside the six yards box – headed in at the far post.
It was indeed a sucker punch, and the lateness of the strike gave the Colliers little time to try and salvage anything from the game.
Ashington: Dryden, Williams (Molloy 90 mins), Scott, Antony, Atkin, Grieve, Johnson, J Taylor (Bainbridge 90 mins), Walton, G Taylor, Lough. Subs not used: Dugdale, Heaman.
On Saturday, Ashington are at home to AFC Rushden & Diamonds in the third round of the FA Carlsberg Vase. Kick-off is 3pm.