An inspired substitution by manager Gary Middleton and a strong second half performance from his side saw the Colliers deservedly clinch all three points and complete a seasons double over relegation threatened Team Northumbria with a 3-1 victory at Coach Lane on Thursday night.
The Colliers, who only 48 hours earlier, had lost their Techflow Group Northumberland Senior Cup semi final replay 3-2 against Blyth Spartans, looked jaded and leggy in the first half and were indeed fortunate to be still in the game.
The hosts had taken the lead with a fabulous strike from former Woodhorn Lane servant Louis Storey and then went on to miss several opportunities and ultimately paid a huge penalty as the visitors somehow recharged their batteries during the interval and turned the game on its head.
The first chance of the night came in the 12th minute when ex Whitley Bay winger Chris Moore cut inside and his right foot shot was pushed out by Ashington ’keeper Karl Dryden then two minutes later, Kyle Oliver flicked the ball on for Marc Walton whose instinctive drive was beaten away for a corner by home stopper Andrew Jennison.
Team North continued to press and after a low shot from Peter Watling had been taken by Dryden and a 30 yarder from Louis Storey had been claimed at the second attempt by the visiting custodian, the home side broke the deadlock in the 21st minute with a peach of a goal from Storey.
Only seconds earlier, Ben Christensen had cleared to deny Watling, and from the resultant corner on the right, Matty Tumilty’s effort thudded against the bar.
But the ball broke free for the inrushing Storey whose venomous right footer from 22 yards gave Dryden no chance as it crashed into the roof of the net.
Jennison denied Walton before in the 57th minute, Middleton made a double substitution, introducing Blackburn bound David Carson and Sam Norris, withdrawing Walton and Martin Brittain.
Call it an inspired move – but within five minutes, the Colliers had turned a one goal deficit into a 2-1 lead.
On the hour, Ashington were awarded a free kick on the right and Novak stepped forward to curl a brilliant effort from 25 yards just inside the near post.
Then Glen Taylor found Oliver who was upended in the area by Storey and after referee Gary McLelland had pointed for a penalty, Johnson sent Jennison the wrong way from the resultant spot kick. Now rejuvenated and looking dangerous every time they went forward, Ashington stretched a Team North side desperate for points and after Glen Taylor had three opportunities, the lively Carson effectively settled the outcome with the Colliers third, seven minutes from time.
Glen Taylor was the supplier of a pass which saw Carson take the ball wide of the advancing Jennison before slotting home.
The ‘keeper fisted the ball out to deny Glen Taylor then after a Carson header on, Lee Scott drove wide. In the first minute of time added on for stoppages, Alex Downey cleared off the line then Ben Sayer’s effort took a deflection and spun away for a corner which was cleared.