ASHINGTON CFC got a deserved second bite at the cherry after playing out a goalless draw against Shildon in the FA Cup tie at Dean Street on Saturday.
But in many respects, this was also a moral victory for the Colliers with the Railwaymen finally knocked off track having registered five straight wins to accompany victory from a League Cup tie in the last six meetings between the sides over the last five seasons.
Indeed, the last three clashes have seen Shildon hit no fewer than 13 goals – ironically goals were the only ingredient missing from a pulsating tie amid sunny conditions in Durham on Saturday.
There were chances in the contest – the bulk of which fell to the home side, but Gary Middleton’s outfit defended superbly with Liam Atkin in particular outstanding and certainly earned the right to have another crack in front of their own fans for the £3,000 prize money on offer for the winners.
Also, early in the second half saw the introduction of recent newcomer Jamie Clarke and moreover Jonny Godsmark.
The latter – returning to action since he hobbled out of Hillheads after a 2-0 defeat against Whitley Bay almost a month ago – caused plenty of problems for the Shildon rearguard with his pace.
In the fifth minute, Andy Dugdale won a header from a Keith Finch goal kick but lost out in the second challenge with Warren Byrne’s effort from 30 yards drifting over the bar.
This was to prove to be a sighter for red hot striker Byrne as ten minutes later he got possession on the edge of the area, turned and his left foot shot went across keeper Karl Dryden before smacking against the base of the post
It was almost half way through the first period when Ashington finally called Finch into action.
From Paul Buzzeo’s throw-in on the right, Dugdale let fly with a half volley which was taken by the home stopper.
However, 60 seconds later Ashington came close when Andrew Johnson slipped the ball through for Gareth Bainbridge who chipped wide.
Shildon returned to the ascendancy with Chris Hughes having a shot blocked by Craig Scott; Ben Christensen crossing from the right for Wayne Gredziak to head back for Byrne who struck over on the half volley then Danny Richmond firing wide from 20 yards.
Ashington manager Middleton made a double substitution early in the second half, with Clarke and Godsmark replacing strikers Stephen Young and Bainbridge.
The move sent shock waves through the home defence and within a minute Godsmark found skipper Darren Lough who crossed for Mark O’Dea who headed wide.
Ashington’s spell of dominance continued as Finch spilled a cross by Dugdale then collected with Clarke ready to pounce.
Byrne, Hughes and Gredziak spurned further chances for the home side whilst livewire Godsmark sparked another move for the Colliers which saw Clarke’s shot deflected for a corner.
The replay was scheduled to take place at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday night.
Ashington: Dryden, Buzzeo, Lough, Grieve, Atkin, Scott, Johnson (Deagle 80 minutes), O’Dea, Young (Godsmark 53 minutes), Bainbridge (Clarke 53 minutes), Dugdale. Subs not used: Rees, Wightman, Taylor.
*In midweek, two goals in as many minutes during the first half, put Ashington on the way to a 2-1 victory at Tow Law.
Despite adverse conditions of a near gale force win, Gary Middleton’s side played some of theire best football of the season and could so easily have racked up five or six goals by the interval.
They eventually went ahead in the 28th minute when Andrew Johnson slipped the ball through for Gareth Bainbridge who rifled home from ten yards then Johnson was again the provider for Stephen Young who finished in similar style.
Ashington struggled to find their rhythm after the break and Luke Thompson’s strike midway through the second period made for a nervous finale – but the Colliers held on.
On Saturday Ashington are away to Billingham Synthonia then host reigning champions Spennymoor at the Lane on Tuesday, September 27, where kick-off will be 7.30pm.