Third in the Ebac Northern League’s first division table, Ashington are heading in the right direction.
So too is recently appointed skipper Andrew Johnson.
The midfielder scored a rare hat-trick of headers at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday as the Colliers train continues to gather full steam.
In the end it was a convincing 4-0 victory over a decent Newton Aycliffe outfit, but it was Johnson who grabbed the headlines as he hit his second treble of the season in what was a powerful display after half-time.
In recent weeks, manager Gary Middleton has operated with a wafer thin squad.
On Saturday he brought in defender Ben Christensen, signed from fellow ENL club Shildon, and also handed a seasonal debut to Darren Lough on his return from Iceland.
Following their terrific single goal victory in midweek over previously unbeaten Marske when Glen Taylor’s 56th minute goal proved to be the decisive strike, it was a buoyant Ashington side who made a tidy start.
Frustrated at being unable to lock the door, the Wansbeck side felt aggrieved in the tenth minute after being on the end of an amazing decision.
Even early in the game Johnson was proving a threat, and as he burst through down the middle he was checked outside the area by a defender then baulked again inside the box.
The assistant waved his flag then draped it across his chest to indicate to referee Ian Quinn that a spot kick was in order, but the Middlesbrough official overruled his colleague, which left Johnson and the entire Ashington contingent flabbergasted.
The game went totally flat with the visitors coming more into the contest and in the 19th minute home keeper Karl Dryden was called into the action, pushing around an effort from Daniel Wilson.
However, Ashington got a pre-interval boost as Marc Walton fired them in front in the 42nd minute.
Lee Scott pumped a high ball forward to David Carson and a ricochet fell to Sam Norris, who played it across for Walton to clip home left footed.
Ten minutes into the second period, Johnson got the first of his treble.
He played the ball out wide to Carson and when the number 11 crossed, Johnson was on hand to steer a deft header into the corner leaving keeper Gareth Young flat footed.
Dryden palmed around from Stuart Owen, which was followed by a couple of excellent blocks inside the Ashington area before the Wansbeck side gave themselves a three-goal cushion on 70 minutes.
Johnson played a swift one-two with Glen Taylor and although Young blocked his shot, the ball ballooned into the air with the home skipper gleefully heading home the rebound into an unguarded net.
Ten minutes on, Aycliffe’s problems were compounded further as Martin Young – cautioned during the first period – fouled Kyle Oliver and was sent off.
But it was that man Johnson who had the final say three minutes from the end of normal time as he claimed his hat-trick with Ashington’s fourth.
The goal itself was quite magnificent in its construction with the industrious Oliver finding the overlapping Lough down the left and he swung over a pinpoint cross for Johnson who planted a majestic header into the roof of the net.
Ashington: Dryden, Lee Scott, Lough, Oliver, J. Taylor, Christensen, Norris (Downey 60 mins), Johnson, Walton (McGorrigan 71 mins), G Taylor, Carson (Briggs 73 mins). Subs not used: C Scott, Blandford.
The Colliers – due to travel to face Billingham Synthonia on Tuesday – return to action on Friday night with an away fixture against Shildon with a 7.30pm kick-off.