MATTY Grieve and Andrew Johnson scored the goals as Ashington completed a season’s double over South Shields at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.
Grieve struck early in the game with Johnson notching his 28th of the campaign to wrap up the points ten minutes from time.
However, it was certainly not plain sailing for Gary Middleton’s side as the Mariners belied their lowly league placing and provided a formidable test.
Middleton handed a debut to Lee Scott on the right hand side of midfield and the newcomer was immediately involved.
With only 90 seconds played, Scott collected a throw-in from James Taylor to find Johnson who in turn passed to Marc Walton but his right footer was held by keeper James Winter.
And it was the keeper who denied Johnson in the fourth minute.
Taylor was once again involved, moving the ball out to Johnson, whose volley was brilliantly parried by the stopper.
Scott threatened after latching onto a Johnson pass but was eventually snuffed out, then Shields had their first chance which fell to Adam Burnicle. He went past Grieve and cut back inside but his effort was held by keeper Karl Dryden.
The Colliers went in front in the 13th minute.
They forced a corner on the left and when Johnson floated the flag kick to the far post, Glen Taylor headed it back into the danger zone for Grieve to steer the ball over the line despite a defender’s last ditch effort to clear with the assistant referee flagging to award the score.
Almost immediately, Walton warmed the hands of Winter with a drive before Glen Taylor, receiving from James Taylor, skilfully lifted the ball over the head of a defender but was then crowded out.
The Mariners were enjoying more of the ball than the hosts and Burnicle fired inches wide of the upright, then Glen Taylor headed wide of Winter’s left hand post.
Paul Antony had a firmly struck drive held by Winter, and with half-time approaching, Burnicle held the ball up well before laying it off to Barrie Smith whose effort rippled the side netting.
Shortly after the break, Antony had a clean strike from 25 yards which got a deflection to go behind for a corner, and on 51 minutes Walton squandered a great opportunity to double the lead.
Johnson broke quickly at the heart of the Shields defence but when he played the ball into Walton, Ashington’s top marksman pulled his shot wide from 16 yards.
Sixty seconds later, it could so easily have been all square as Burnicle found Stephen Ramsey who lashed over when well placed.
Midway through the period, Grieve ventured through the middle and found Johnson whose weak shot was directed straight at Winter.
Then two minutes later Johnson also missed a glaring chance after being put through by Walton. He bore down on goal, shrugging off a defender, but stabbed wide as Winter advanced.
The game was still open and after Burnicle had fired weakly at Dryden, a stinging half volley from Scott was deflected behind.
However, Ashington got the cushion of a second in the 80th minute with a telling contribution from substitute Marc Heaman, who only five minutes earlier had replaced Walton.
Scott played the ball out to the flank and Heaman made strides before whipping over a delightful and inviting cross to the far post where Johnson made no mistake with a bullet header.
Five minutes later the goalscorer found Heaman on the same wing and when he centred low into the danger zone, Glen Taylor’s clever back flick was held by Winter.
Taylor went close with a flashing header before in the 89th minute Shields were reduced to ten men when substitute Lee Bell was red carded for dissent.
Ashington: Dryden, J Taylor, Dobby, Antony, Atkin, Grieve, L Scott (Moscrop 83 minutes), Dugdale (Slaughter 59 minutes), Walton (Heaman 75 minutes), G Taylor, Johnson.
In midweek, Ashington reached the final of the Northumberland Senior Cup after a 2-0 victory over neighbours North Shields at the Daren Persson Stadium.
Glen Taylor headed the Colliers in front in first half stoppage time then Andrew Johnson doubled the lead seven minutes after the break with an outstanding effort from the edge of the area.
Then on Thursday, Glen Taylor secured a point for the Wansbeck side with a superb equaliser 20 minutes from time against Team Northumbria.
A curling effort from Mark Fenwick had put the hosts ahead in the first period.
This Saturday Ashington are away to Consett (3pm) then the Colliers take on Celtic Nation at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday April 9.