North Shields 3 Ashington 2
EBAC Northen Leaugue Division One
Ashington paid a huge penalty for a spot kick miss as North Shields bounced back from a two goal deficit to win a pulsating contest 3-2 at the Daren Persson Stadium last night.
The Colliers – fresh from their single goal victory over Dunston at the weekend – were excellent going forward in the first half but could not get going after the break which enabled the Robins to stage a dramatic comeback and protect their unbeaten home record. Gary Middleton’s side started the game in dynamic and lively fashion and within 20 seconds, Andrew Johnson cut through two defenders inside the area before keeper Chris Bannon intercepted.
Johnson quickly got possession on the left and his cross was cut out by Kieran Wrightson but from the ensuing corner by Johnson, Kyle Oliver put his side in front with a thumping header from the junction of the six-yard box on 59 seconds.
Ryan Carr fired just over then headed narrowly wide for the Shieldsmen before Oliver added his second in the 17th minute. Phil Airey, Glen Taylor, Johnson and Ben Christensen were involved in the construction of the goal and when the latter swung the ball into the danger zone, Oliver met it on the half volley to drill into the net wide of Bannon from six yards. Ex Collier Gareth Bainbridge curled an effort wide then had a shot blocked by Airey and the ever dangerous Carr directed a header which missed the near post by a matter of inches. However, what proved to be a massive turning point came on the half hour after Johnson had had a shot blocked.
He got the rebound and slipped the ball across for Stephenson who was upended in the area by Adam Forster and referee Shane Sugden pointed to the spot. Oliver took the kick but placed a weakly struck effort too close to the left of ex Ashington keeper Bannon who saved comfortably.
The visitors had played some neat constructive football going forward but the Robins continued to pose a threat and after Dean Holmes had blasted just over, a shot on the run from Wrightson flashed a foot wide of keeper Conor Grant’s right-hand post.
As play switched from end to end with great regularity, Oliver hooked wide then Stephenson hit the side netting. The second half was a mere 25 seconds old when Carr went to ground under challenge from Richard Flynn and Mr Sugden awarded a penalty.
Bainbridge stepped up and sent Grant the wrong way to reduce the leeway. Ashington eventually rallied and ten minutes into the half, Johnson and Flynn had efforts blocked. Another turning point came in the 72nd minute when Oliver and Glen Taylor combined to set up a chance on the volley for Johnson whose right footer was tipped over by Bannon. Denver Morris had been thrust into the fray for Carr and five minutes after his introduction, he received the ball on the right, advanced then stroked the ball across Grant and into the net for the equaliser. But things got even worse for the Colliers as in the 79th minute, a flag kick on the right was met at the near post by Curtis Coppen who hooked the ball on the volley inside the far corner.
The goal proved to be the clincher which moved the high flying Robins up to third place in the league table.
Ashington: Grant, Airey, Christensen, Ferrell (Downey 67 minutes), Flynn, McGlen, Oliver, Shaw, Stephenson (Walton 69 minutes), G Taylor, Johnson. Subs not used: Davison, Egen, Barnard (gk)
Referee: Shane Sugden (Bishop Auckland)