A GOAL deep into stoppage time from skipper Liam Atkin salvaged a point for Ashington against Marske United at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.
Atkin, pictured, met a pinpoint left wing corner from Tommy English – in the fourth of what referee Shane Sugden had signalled to be a minimum of five additional minutes at the end of the second period – to net with a bullet-like header into the roof of the net from six yards.
And for the central defender it was a timely first goal of the season which rescued his side a share of the spoils when it had looked ominously as if the Colliers were heading for a second defeat inside five days following a 4-0 reverse to leaders Sunderland RCA in midweek.
As it was, following the single goal defeat at Bishop Auckland but victory at Consett, the stats showed that Gary Middleton’s men – who recently went on an unbeaten six match run – had only collected four points from there last 12.
The goal brought Ashington supporters to life after they had endured a painstaking and uninspiring contest where chances were few and far between.
Not only that, but home fans had seen the lowly visitors emerge as the better side, particularly in the opening 45 minutes.
It could have been so different too as in the fifth minute Andrew Johnson found English who took one touch but then delayed pulling the trigger and was eventually blocked out.
Leon Carling was more than grateful to concede a corner after a dead ball free kick by English had arrowed towards the danger area.
But the visitors came into the game and on 12 minutes only the alertness of Karl Dryden in the Ashington goal along with the thickness of the woodwork prevented them from taking the lead.
The move was simplicity itself with keeper Graeme Willey launching a free kick into the area which was headed on by Danny Brunskill for Craig Skelton whose effort was finger tipped onto the bar by Dryden with the ball drifting over for a corner.
Minutes later, Burnskill, Marske’s best performer in the corresponding match, had a shot parried up into the air by Dryden, and from the resulting corner Karl Charlton’s low drive was blocked by the stopper with Charlton’s follow up effort being cleared off the line by Matty Grieve.
It was the 26th minute before the Colliers strung anything together with Michael Tait and Darren Lough involved in the build up which saw Marc Walton’s first timer deflected for a corner.
However, on the stroke of half-time Tait ought to have netted his first goal for the club following the best move of the game.
Grieve slotted through to James Taylor who immediately played the ball on for Jonny Godsmark but when he pulled it back, Tait lashed over from eight yards.
The woodwork then came to Marske’s rescue seven minutes into the second half.
Johnson ploughed through the middle and tried to calmly place a left foot effort which beat Willey but then struck the inside of the post before rolling across and out of play.
Then a neat piece of skill from Godsmark saw him cross for Taylor who drove wide.
But in the 64th minute the visitors broke the deadlock.
The Ashington defence hesitated in attempting to clear and when the ball fell to Brunskill, he fired a left foot shot wide of Dryden and inside the far corner.
Craig Scott headed over a Lough corner and the latter was also thwarted, but with the Colliers being out of sorts and struggling to make any impression, it looked all the world as if Brunskill’s strike was to be the decisive blow.
However, in the fourth minute to be added on, Atkin’s positive header and subsequent equaliser got the Colliers a get–out-of-jail card.
Ashington: Dryden, Grieve, Lough, Taylor, Atkin, Scott, Johnson, Tait (Young 83 minutes), Walton, Godsmark, English. Subs not used: Rees, Dugdale, Buzzeo, Bainbridge.
In midweek the Colliers struggled against RCA’s style of play and were three goals down at the interval.
Towering striker Andy Jennings netted goals in the 12th and 25th minutes before Mark Davison added a third five minutes before the interval with a thumping header.
Two minutes into the second half, Ian Davidson swept home RCA’s fourth.
Gary Middleton’s side now enjoy a break over the Easter period, returning to action on Wednesday, April 11, with an away trip to face Newcastle Benfield for a 7.30pm kick-off.