Guisborough Town’s prolific striker Danny Johnson fired a four-goal salvo at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday to lead his side to a comfortable and deserved victory over Ashington.
It was the Colliers’ heaviest home defeat in four seasons.
Despite Johnson scoring twice in the first half with opportunist efforts, the talk during the majority of the contest centred around the near gale force westerly wind which blew down the ground from the Welfare end towards the dressing rooms.
Because of the severity of the wind, it was expected it would be the proverbial game of two halves.
But Johnson made light of the situation and if his hat-trick goal effectively sealed the win, and his fourth towards the end only served to rub salt into home side’s wounds.
Three defeats in their last six games have severely blunted Ashington’s aspirations of a top six finish with other teams having games in hand.
But Gary Middleton’s side have also gone off the boil and would give their right arm to return to the flowing football which they served up earlier in the campaign.
Already on a downer following their midweek 2-0 defeat at the hands of Marske United, the Colliers made the worst possible start as they went a goal behind after only four minutes.
Keeper Luke Coddington launched a free kick upfield which inadvertently came off the studs of Ben Christensen and put Johnson in the clear. The forward weighed up the situation before coolly slotting the ball home left footed wide of keeper Karl Dryden.
An effort by Scott Oldfield had Dryden scampering across his goal, then the stopper had to react quickly to take the ball off Johnson’s toes inside the area.
Ashington had to reshuffle when Craig Scott was forced to retire due to a head injury originally picked up the previous week against Consett, then Guisborough’s Johnson struck the upright from an acute angle.
The Teessiders were third from bottom when the two sides met at the beginning of October and played out a 1-1 draw – but even then it was widely acknowledged that they were in a false position.
Yet apart from having to contend with the atrocious conditions, the basic difference on Saturday during the first period was the visitors showing far more confidence in their play – and on 33 minutes, they turned the screw even further with a simple second.
The ball was played through and Johnson, faced by the advancing Dryden, made no mistake lobbing the keeper from the edge of the box.
Anthony Hume could so easily have made it three when he stroked the ball wide of the far post before the Colliers put together their only flowing move right on half-time.
Kyle Downey, Lance McGlen and James Novak combined down the left but the latter’s low cross was cleared.
Early in the second period, a cross by Roberts was headed away from the danger zone by James Taylor, then from the resultant corner Novak cleared off the line from Thomas Marron.
Marc Walton came on at half-time to replace the injured Martin Brittain and it was the sub who had a pot at goal on the hour, latching onto a cross from the right by Lee Scott but directing his effort over.
Then Glen Taylor, McGlen and Kyle Oliver fired in shots from distance which were either held by Coddington or deflected wide.
Guisborough had given a far better account of themselves playing into the teeth of the wind than their hosts and they cemented a deserved victory with two classic strikes from Johnson in the final ten minutes.
Luke Bythway supplied a cross from the right where Johnson buried a lightning right foot strike on the turn beyond Dryden and into the far corner to complete his hat-trick.
Then following another ball from the same flank, Johnson took his league tally for the season to 40 when he finished with aplomb with an effort which gave Dryden no chance.
The Colliers are without a game this coming weekend.
Ashington: Dryden, McGlen, Christensen, Oliver, C Scott (L Scott 18), J Taylor, Brittain (Walton 46), Downey, Johnson, G Taylor, Novak (Norris 66). Subs not used: Carson, Barnard.
Ashington went down 2-0 against Marske in midweek when their former striker Jamie Clarke scored a peach of a half volley to open the scoring 20 minutes from time.
Levent Yalcin then netted with a superlative effort from fully 35 yards two minutes from the end of normal time to wrap up the points.