Guisborough Town’s King George V Playing Fields has never been a particularly happy hunting ground for Ashington – yet around 4.45pm on Saturday there were plenty of smiling faces from everyone connected with the Woodhorn Lane club.
And those rays of sunshine could have been broader still had the Colliers taken opportunities, especially in a first half which for the best part they dominated, which would have put them into a commanding lead.
As it was, Gary Middleton’s depleted squad caused by various facets dug deeper than the proverbial underground mole and had to withstand concerted pressure from a workmanlike Guisborough outfit who, side-tracked by cup commitments and behind in league matches, are in a totally false third from bottom placing in the top flight of the Ebac Northern League.
Middleton and his assistant Perry Briggs demanded guts, determination, character and commitment from their team and they got it in abundance whilst Glen Taylor – one of 11 who were magnificent during a first period which saw the Wansbeck side in full throttle – extended his scoring sequence to six matches to take his season’s tally to 15.
Home keeper Ben Escritt tipped over from Glen Taylor in the early stages then moments later Marc Walton came within the thickness of the goal frame of breaking the deadlock with what would have been a certain contender for goal of the season.
Thirty-five yards out, he spotted Escritt off his line but his audacious effort struck the angle of post and crossbar.
However, in the 18th minute, Glen Taylor was on target to give his side the lead.
Lee Scott swung over a deep cross from the right touchline and the towering Glen Taylor soared at the back post to despatch a firm header wide of Escritt and into the far corner.
It was nothing more than the Colliers deserved and they could and should have moved into an unassailable position.
As Glen Taylor continued to prove a handful, he advanced before unleashing a right footed drive from 22 yards which brought an equally stunning save out of Escritt.
Then skipper Andrew Johnson fired inches wide from a tight angle.
But for all their superiority, the Colliers were caught cold on the half hour as the Priorymen got back on terms from the penalty spot.
James Taylor was adamant in his claims that he got the ball in a tackle with Michael Roberts just inside the area, but the assistant viewed the incident differently, waving his flag then draping it across his chest with referee Gary McLelland pointing to the spot.
Daniel Johnson stepped up and rattled in the equaliser left footed, sending Karl Dryden the wrong way.
It was cruel on the Colliers and provided to be a turning point in the game as the home side mounted the pressure after the break.
Ashington’s troubles compounded even further ten minutes after the restart.
Already forced to field an unfamiliar back four, Lance McGlen – akin to Terry Butcher as he wore a white band to protect a head injury sustained in the midweek clash against Sunderland RCA – was forced to retire through injury.
It caused another shuffle with Scott Blandford switching to centre defence and debutant Kyle Downey to full back with substitute Joe Race slotting in on the left hand side of the midfield.
Within two minutes, Race fired narrowly wide then following a back heel by Walton, Glen Taylor lined up a shot from distance which was blocked by Escritt.
Race hit the side netting and Sam Norris toe poked feebly to Escritt whilst at the other end Dryden moved smartly to his left to turn around a goalbound 30 yards free kick by Roberts.
Ashington physio Leanne Symonds was happy to have a quiet afternoon.
Before kick-off she was asked if she would also cover for any injuries sustained to Guisborough players whose own physio was unavailable.
Ashington: Dryden, Lee Scott, Blandford, Dugdale, J Taylor, McGlen (Race 55 mins), Norris, Johnson, Walton, G Taylor, Downey. Sub not used: Barnard.
In midweek, Ashington completed a 4-0 victory over Sunderland RCA at Woodhorn Lane with goals from Glen Taylor, Andrew Johnson (2) and a Marc Walton penalty.
On Saturday the Colliers travel to face Newcastle Benfield who sit on top of the current form table then on Tuesday, October 15, Marske make the trip to Woodhorn Lane as Ashington’s next opponents at home.