End of season feel

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NOT even the inspirational Jonny Godsmark could ignite what was a painstaking laborious big yawn as Ashington CFC locked horns with Stokesley on Saturday.

Godsmark returned to the Colliers line-up after missing the last two games through injury, but the winger was starved of the ball and consequently had a quiet outing.

However, what Woodhorn Lane boss Gary Middleton and his staff will not have been happy with was that that their side twice held the lead against the Teessiders, with goals from Johnny Wightman and a cracker from skipper Chris Scott, only to be pegged back against a side desperately fighting to stave off the threat of relegation.

The Colliers on the other hand, are looking to finish as high up the table as possible, but in the final analysis this was poor end of season fare with supporters, particularly in the second period, enduring their longest 45 minutes of the campaign.

In the first quarter it was the home side who threatened with a David Turner effort narrowly clearing the bar, then Anthony Hume directed a header straight into keeper Karl Dryden’s midriff.

However, the Colliers took the lead via the penalty spot in the 26th minute.

Mark O’Dea found Godsmark down the right and when the number seven whipped over a cross the ball was handled near the by-line by Leon Poole. Johnny Wightman made no mistake, sending home stopper Robert Dean the wrong way with a firmly struck penalty.

Two minutes later the lead could have been doubled after Wightman and Godsmark combined with the latter slipping the ball across for Gareth Bainbridge but his shot was taken by Dean.

Stokesley got back on terms in the 44th minute. A cross drive from the left by Karl Liley was met at the far post by the unmarked Paul Crager who lashed the ball into the roof of the net.

Even then, the Colliers retaliated with Bainbridge thwarted by Dean.

The striker latched onto a long throw-in from the right by Wightman to direct a header which was pushed away by the keeper.

Within 25 seconds of the second half resuming, Bainbridge, Scott and Godsmark combined well with the latter’s right foot shot being held by Dean at the second attempt.

On the hour Damen Mullen netted only to be flagged offside, but midway through the period, the Colliers regained the lead.

Middleton had withdrawn both strikers, Bainbridge and Wightman, throwing Phill Bell and Stephen Young into the fray ,and when James Taylor found Young on the left, the substitute’s cross was met just inside the area by Scott who let fly with an unstoppable right foot volley which gave Dean no chance.

Surely in such a drab affair, a goal of such quality would not only prove to be the highlight but also the winner – except Colliers defender Gareth Rees had not read the script.

For within two minutes, Stokesley were handed a lifeline after Rees - who has been in excellent form since his switch to sweeper - made an unnecessary tackle near the by-line and after upending Allison, referee Turner pointed to the spot.

Karl Liley stepped unceremoniously and clinically tucked away the spot kick, sending Dryden the wrong way.

Seven minutes from time, Young again provided a cross from the right but Dean was perfectly placed and did not have to move to clutch Mullen’s header.

Ashington: Dryden, Taylor, Dunn, O’Dea, Harmison, Rees, Godsmark, Scott, Wightman (Young 66 mins), Bainbridge (Bell 66 mins), Mullen. Sub not used: Atkin.

In midweek, the Colliers travelled to Cumbria and shared the spoils with Penrith.

In the first half, long range efforts from Craig Wilson and Willy Paul both rattled the crossbar whilst for Ashington, a header from Stephen Young hit the post.

On the hour and two minutes after being introduced as a substitute, Gareth Bainbridge met a cross from James Taylor but saw his effort brilliantly saved by keeper Thomas Banks.

Bainbridge had another opening but saw Banks gather and five minutes from time, Penrith’s Daniel Robinson fired just wide from 18 yards.

On Saturday Ashington travel to meet Whitley Bay.

Earlier in the season, the Colliers won 2-1 at Hillheads in the Sage Northumberland Senior Cup, but the Seahorses ran out 3-0 victors in the first league clash of the campaign between the sides at Woodhorn Lane in late February.

Then on Tuesday, April 12, Gary Middleton’s side bring the curtain down on their home programme when they will be looking to complete a quickfire double over South Shields at Woodhorn Lane having defeated the Mariners by a single goal at Filtrona Park only a couple of weeks ago.