Johnson returns to Ashington team and leads from the front

Ashington striker Glen Taylor quickly levels the scores after Bishop Auckland scored an early goal. Picture by Ian Appleby - www.ianapplebyimages.com
Ashington striker Glen Taylor quickly levels the scores after Bishop Auckland scored an early goal. Picture by Ian Appleby - www.ianapplebyimages.com
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Normal service was resumed at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday on a day when skipper Andrew Johnson made his return to the Ashington side.

The talismanic Johnson has been sorely missed during a six-week period out with a broken toe.

But he came back with a vengeance to be instrumental and influential as the Colliers handed out a six-goal hiding against a Bishop Auckland outfit who arrived as the Ebac Northern League first division’s meanest defence after conceding only ten in as many matches.

Johnson’s performance was typical ‘Roy of the Rovers’ material.

He scored two whilst also claiming two assists, the latter where he unselfishly passed up on the opportunity to complete his hat-trick on full-time, preferring instead to gift team-mate Kyle Downey with a simple tap in.

Already downcast following a poor performance and defeat against Dunston UTS the previous week, the mood in the home camp – despite the inclusion of Johnson - remained sombre as John Butler gave Bishops the lead in the fourth minute, sweeping home a cross from the right by Stuart Thompson from six yards.

But the goal provided Gary Middleton’s side with a jolt – and they hit back with devastating effect to cruise into a 3-1 lead inside the next 20 minutes.

The equaliser came on eight minutes following a cross by Lance McGlen which picked out Johnson. He beat a defender then rolled the ball off for Glen Taylor who rifled into the corner.

Johnson was blocked by keeper Scott Pocklington but the visiting custodian was left helpless in the 17th minute as the Colliers went 2-1 up.

Glen Taylor was the provider of a deep cross from the right touchline where Johnson rose at the far post before planting a powerful header into the roof of the net.

Marc Walton had a blockbuster kept out by Pocklington then Downey fired wide before in the 24th minute Glen Taylor added his second and Ashington’s third.

Ben Christensen’s throw found Richie Slaughter who returned the ball to him and the full back picked out Walton with a cross into the box. The marksman then laid the ball off for Taylor who made no mistake with a right footed drive.

Ashington had not only turned the screw – they looked like scoring on every occasion they went up field and further chances fell to Glen Taylor and Downey.

Bishops threatened briefly before the break as Butler screwed an effort wide, then an effort by Thompson was held by home keeper Conor Grant.

The Colliers made a great start to the second period as Johnson found the net within 100 seconds of kick-off.

Substitute Tony Stephenson – who had replaced the injured Walton prior to the interval – delivered a pin point centre where the alert Johnson, ghosting in, steered the ball home.

Johnson struck over on the half volley before Ashington – who had played some superb neat football – went nap in the 65th minute with a quick fire move which stemmed from a clearance by Grant.

Glen Taylor and Downey were involved, the latter who crossed where Slaughter’s effort from 12 yards was diverted past Pocklington by Stephenson.

In the final minute of the 90, the home side made it a round half dozen when Johnson, in on goal and faced with only Pocklington to beat, slipped the ball into the path of the hard working Downey, who drove into the unguarded net.

Ashington: Grant, McGlen, Christensen, Ferrell, Flynn, J Taylor, Downey, Slaughter, Walton (Stephenson 41), G Taylor (Davison 72), Johnson. Subs not used: Novak, Oliver, Barnard.

Attendance: 241.

Ashington now face a double header away from their Woodhorn Lane base.

On Saturday, October 18, they travel to West Allotment Celtic then make another relatively short journey on Wednesday, October 22, to face Newcastle Benfield where ex-Bedlington Terriers midfielder Steve Bowey has just returned to take over the managerial duties.