Drab an uninspiring as Ashington draw at Penrith

Ashington's Damien Stevens. Picture by Ian Appleby - www.ianapplebyimages.com
Ashington's Damien Stevens. Picture by Ian Appleby - www.ianapplebyimages.com
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Snow on the Pennines made for picturesque and spectacular views and provided a backdrop from Penrith’s Frenchfields Park on Saturday.

Sadly, this end of season game between the home side and Ashington proved to be quite the opposite.

And if the first period was moderate at best, the second was altogether drab and uninspiring.

Travels to Cumbria have not been too favourable results-wise over the years, but for the Wansbeck outfit, it was a well earned point – and only the brilliance of home goalkeeper Aaron Taylor and the woodwork denied Steve Harmison’s outfit of taking all three.

Having been on the receiving end of a 2-1 defeat in a gruelling stamina-sapping final home game of the season against defending champions Marske United less than 48 hours earlier, Ashington looked surprisingly fresh, and in the fifth minute a superb ball played over the top of the Penrith defence by Paul Dunn was headed on by Lee Scott but Damien Stevens’ struck over on the half volley.

Midway through the half, the striker looked to be in a promising situation until Jamie Street made an excellent tackle to stop him in his tracks.

Persistence and determination by Stevens and Kyle Downey fashioned the next opening, and when Kyle Oliver crossed from near the right corner flag, Scott Gunn was just off target with a header from nine yards.

Penrith forward Shaun Gardner had seen an overhead kick blocked but following an in-swinging corner from the right by Jake Smith, and Gardner’s goalbound header was cleared away from the danger zone by Oliver.

However, on the half hour, Gunn must have thought he had registered his first ever goal for the Colliers. Sterling work by Downey saw him cross to the edge of the box and Gunn’s low effort was creeping inside the post until Taylor got down low to his right to push the ball away in fine style.

The home side got a foothold into the game and after a shot from Benjamin Jackson had been deflected just over, Richard Faustino’s drive was cleared by Adam Harvey.

Shortly before the interval, Conor Grant palmed away a header from Gardner, and two minutes into the second period when a cross from the left beat Grant, Dunn came to the rescue to clear off the line.

Keeper Taylor again denied the Colliers when a superb pass by James Taylor released Oliver who hit a sweet half volley which the stopper blocked, then home skipper Grant Davidson headed over from a Samuel Bell cross.

Ten minutes from time, substitute Andrew Bulford found Scott on the left and his audacious cross-shot struck the base of the post and was cleared, then Stevens fired wide with what was the final opportunity of the game.

On Wednesday, May 4, Ashington make the journey to Shildon then on Saturday, May 7, the Colliers bring the curtain down on their season with a short trip to face FA Vase finalists Morpeth Town.

Ashington: Grant, Harvey, Dunn (Bulford 72), Taylor, J Harmison, Christensen, Gunn, Downey, Stevens, Scott, Oliver. Subs not used: Johnson, Bell.