Gareth Bainbridge hit a stunning hat-trick as Ashington brought the curtain down on their season with a 5-0 victory over Norton & Stockton Ancients at the Station Road ground on Wednesday.
Bainbridge’s goals, one in the first half and two after the break, were excellently taken, as indeed was substitute Lee Scott’s strike seconds before the final whistle.
Colliers striker Marc Walton – looking for one goal which would take his season’s tally to 40 – was naturally itching to get his name on the score sheet, and he had the first opportunity in the fifth minute when his audacious lob from all of 40 yards drifted narrowly over the bar with keeper Joseph Fryer advanced.
Bainbridge scuffed an attempted lob then skied over after a one-two exchange with Jonny Godsmark before he broke the deadlock in the 25th minute.
The goal was simple in its construction with keeper Karl Dryden’s goal kick being glanced on by Walton.
Bainbridge took a touch then let fly from 14 yards with a left footer which rocketed into the net leaving Fryer helpless.
James Provett fired over for Ancients, then before the interval Andrew Johnson – switching from his midfield and striking roles to play in the unaccustomed role of full back due to unavailabilities – produced a phenomenal run in which he dribbled past five defenders, but was eventually blocked out.
Paul Antony had a 30 yarder pushed away by Fryer diving to his right.
Ashington began the second period well and a move involving Matty Grieve, Andrew Dugdale and Antony ended when the latter’s cross was deflected behind for a corner, from which Bainbridge had a header tipped over by Fryer.
Then the stopper held an effort from Walton.
Marc Heaman – making his full debut – cut inside but fired wide before another well constructed goal arrived in the 56th minute which put the Wansbeck side two-nil up.
Skipper Liam Atkin’s 30-yard pass found Heaman who laid the ball off first time for Bainbridge who struck a brilliant left footed half volley on the turn which flew into the roof of the net.
With quarter of an hour remaining, Bainbridge glanced on a corner from Johnson for Grieve who fired home.
Then six minutes from time Bainbridge completed his hat-trick when he headed in a cross from the right by Johnson.
Sixty seconds later, Walton thought he had reached his personal goals target for the campaign but the effort was ruled out for offside, before the final action centred around Lee Scott.
The substitute unleashed a left footed power drive from the edge of the area which crashed into the net via the post.
The win saw Ashington move up to sixth place in the Ebac Northern League first division table, level on points but with a better goal difference than Bishop Auckland, who have one game left to play.
If Bishops avoid defeat against Guisborough next Wednesday (May 15) then the Colliers will finish the season in seventh position.
Ashington: Dryden, Johnson, Dobby, Antony, Atkin, Grieve, Godsmark (L Scott 61 mins), Dugdale, Walton, Bainbridge, Heaman.