IT is an old cliché – but Ashington were literally ‘saved by the Bell’ on Saturday.
Striker Phill Bell served up a timely double to ensure his side – twice behind at Guisborough’ – took a point back home to Wansbeck after a thrilling game which any neutral would have enjoyed.
The Priorymen clearly belied their bottom half of the table placing and in Martin Roberts had the star performer of the day in their ranks.
Town had labelled it a ‘rip roaring day’ for junior footballers and grown ups alike with a guest appearance from Middlesborough’s official mascot Roary the Lion.
But on the pitch it was not so much Roary but Roberts who the Colliers feared the most.
The winger teased and tormented the Ashington defence – and makeshift full back Paul Buzzeo in particular – all afternoon and apart from scoring the two goals, also set up numerous opportunities for his side.
Temperatures had plummeted and although a small area of the King George V Ground was crispy with frost, the surface was playable.
And crisp would be an apt description of how Roberts – having earlier set up a chance for Chris I’Anson which was deflected – broke the deadlock on the quarter hour.
The winger latched onto a diagonal pass to take the ball on and slot wide of the advancing Karl Dryden.
Roberts was having a field day down the right and he went close again when firing a left footed effort inches wide.
The Colliers eventually got a foothold in the game and midway through the period Andrew Johnson found Gareth Bainbridge who unleashed a 20-yard effort which was palmed away by home stopper Jack Norton to his left.
However, the keeper would have been left stranded ten minutes later had Bainbridge hit the target instead of lashing over following a Tommy English free kick from the left.
It was Ashington’s turn to dominate, and glad to break free from his defensive duties, Buzzeo got on the end of a splendid searching pass from Liam Atkin and did well after venturing down the left, but when he crossed Bainbridge was forced to turn and saw his effort blocked.
Sixty seconds later Johnson missed an opportunity after only half connecting with an English cross, then Matty Grieve supplied the ball from which Bell’s header was grasped by Norton. Guisborough started the second half as they had done the first and Dryden saved a certain second goal from Roberts following a cross from the left.
However, in the 50th minute the Colliers grabbed an equaliser through Phill Bell.
Dean Deagle found English whose low drive was turned in past Norton by Bell.
Twice in the space of three minutes Roberts was denied by Dryden, but the keeper had no chance on the hour as – yes that man – nemesis Roberts put his side in front a second time.
He got possession down the right and let fly with a venomous angled drive which flew into the far corner of the net.
Ashington hit back with Bainbridge firing over, and after Austin Johnston had fizzed an effort wide the visitors drew level for the second time in the 78th minute.
Ashington had been forced to shuffle the pack after Rees limped off to be replaced by Stewart Morris, but the ex-Tow Law player did extremely well to wriggle to the by-line and when he crossed Bell applied the finishing touch at the near post.
Ashington: Dryden, Grieve, Buzzeo (Hogg 69 mins), Taylor, Atkin, Rees (Morris 66 mins), Johnson, Deagle, Bell, Bainbridge, English. Sub not used: Dugdale.
In midweek, the Colliers went down 2-0 against Dunston UTS at Federation Park.
Anthony Hume and Michael Dixon the scorers.