Colliers dig deep and climb to fifth

Matty Grieve heads Ashington into a first minute lead against Sunderland RCA. Photo by Ian Appleby
Matty Grieve heads Ashington into a first minute lead against Sunderland RCA. Photo by Ian Appleby
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ASHINGTON dug deep on Saturday to push Sunderland RCA aside to complete a profitable week as the Woodhorn Lane club collected three consecutive victories inside the space of five days.

The 3-1 win on the back of a highly impressive run has seen them fall to only one defeat in ten matches.

And Gary Middleton’s side have climbed into fifth from top place in the Ebac Northern League’s first division – a position they claimed at the end of last term.

Goals from Matty Grieve, Mark O’Dea and Paul Antony did the trick against the Ryhope-based outfit on Saturday.

Amid a terrific start by the Colliers, Grieve scoredg his third goal in as many games after a mere 67 seconds, which was followed by a strike from O’Dea on 12 minutes.

However, Ashington missed opportunities to increase the advantage and after watching RCA come back towards the end of the first period then perform much better in the second half, even a 3-1 lead prompted assistant manager Perry Briggs to urge the Colliers to ‘dig deep’ in the closing stages.

But what a start for the in-form side. Glen Taylor forced a corner on the left and when Andrew Johnson floated over a delightful ball from the flag kick, Grieve planted a superb header wide of keeper Jonathan Ball.

With another 100 seconds on the clock, Glen Taylor was through on goal but was denied by the sprawling Ball.

Play switched and ex-Ashington centre forward Jamie Clarke wriggled clear down the flank but saw his effort blocked at the post by the legs of home keeper Karl Dryden.

Antony lashed an effort over before the second goal arrived for the Colliers.

It was simplicity in itself with Dryden’s clearance finding Johnson on the left. The wide man cut inside and when he found O’Dea, the midfielder rode a challenge from a defender then clipped the ball past the keeper from eight yards.

Jonny Godsmark was through until Tom Marron got back to make a timely tackle inside the area, then following a Godsmark cross from the right, Marc Walton missed his kick with a melee ensuing.

Before the interval, Johnson shot wide and Walton was blocked by Ball, whilst at the other end, a goal bound 25 yarder by skipper Brian Close was pushed up into the air by Dryden.

Two minutes into the second period, Clarke poked the ball past Dryden but off target, then an effort by Andrew Dobby was kept out by Ball.

However, in the 50th minute, RCA reduced the deficit with a great strike from Gary Shaw.

Close played the ball into the path of Shaw, who from inside the area curled a cross-shot wide of Dryden and into the far corner.

It was game on, with a chipped shot from substitute Kevin Gordon being fisted over by Dryden at the near post then a glancing header from Gary Shields from an in-swinging corner by Adam McGuinness going just wide.

However, on the hour, Antony gave Ashington much needed breathing space with a classic strike to register his side’s third goal.

He initially played the ball into the penalty area and when it was only half cleared back into his path, he took his time before lashing a low right footer on the run from 20 yards which flew into the bottom corner.

Middleton brought on Marc Heaman and the substitute made a promising impression during the final 25 minutes.

Within two minutes he had an effort was deflected for a corner, then he made a telling headed clearance inside his own penalty area.

Ross Preston fired wide for RCA then substitute Gordon clipped the ball across the face of the goal.

However, Ashington – told by Briggs to dig deep – ought to have added to their tally in the final seven minutes as Glen Taylor was thwarted by Ball then substitute Gareth Bainbridge shot over on two occasions with first time efforts.

Ashington: Dryden, J Taylor, Dobby, Antony (Dugdale 76 mins), Atkin, Grieve, Godsmark (Heaman 65 mins), O’Dea, Walton, G Taylor (Bainbridge 87 mins), Johnson. Sub not used: L Scott.

Attendance 189.

On Saturday, Ashington are away to Celtic Nation, kick-off 3pm.

In midweek, Ashington wrapped up two convincing victories with 4-1 and 5-1 scorelines over Celtic Nation and Marske United respectively.

Against Celtic Nation, who caught the eye by playing some good football in the first period, Ashington crucially scored twice in as many minutes through Walton towards the end of the period, then James Taylor added a third with a superb curler with the outside of his boot 12 minutes after the break.

Michael Reed reduced the deficit but five minutes from full-time, Grieve headed home a corner delivered by Andrew Johnson.

On Thursday at Marske, Antony gave the Colliers the lead but within 40 seconds the Teessiders had levelled through Jordan Hugill.

Walton put Ashington back in front with a low drive and after the break, Glen Taylor, Grieve and Johnson were all on target, which wrapped up a 5-1 victory.