Newcastle United XI bowled over by Ben Harmison strike

Ashington striker Ben Harmison. Picture by Gavin Perry.
Ashington striker Ben Harmison. Picture by Gavin Perry.

Ben Harmison struck a late winner for Ashington against a Newcastle United XI in their pre-season friendly at Woodhorn Lane on Monday evening.

With chances limited throughout, the game had been heading towards a goalless draw until the striker latched onto a superb headed pass from substitute Jack Cooper and side-footed past keeper Paul Woolston.

Afterwards Colliers boss Steve Harmison hailed every one of his players after a high energy performance against the Toon’s second string, who had gone into the contest with an unbeaten pre-season record.

In warm conditions and in front of a crowd in excess of 700, Ashington-born Premier League referee Michael Oliver took charge of the fixture.

It was a full 11 minutes before the first chance was created. Dan Ward played the ball across to Tom Heardman whose weak effort from 14 yards was held by Ashington keeper Conor Grant.

Yasin El-Mhanni had a shot blocked then a timely block by James Harmison snuffed out the danger to thwart Sean Longstaff.

At the other end, a left foot effort from Kyle Downey held by Woolston represented Ashington’s first effort at goal.

On the half hour, Heardman crossed for Jamie Holmes but he stabbed wide, then Andrew Bulford latched onto a headed back-pass but fired narrowly wide.

However, the best chance of the half fell to the hosts in the 36th minute when Bulford’s through ball to Lee McAndrew put the midfielder clean through with only Woolston to beat, but he lifted his effort over the bar.

In the 55th minute, Newcastle’s Luke Charman also found himself one-on-one with Grant, but his right foot effort was brilliantly pushed away by the home stopper, diving full stretch to his left.

Three minutes later, the Magpies striker came even closer to breaking the deadlock. He met a cross from the left but saw his header thud against the post and bounce straight into Grant’s arms.

Charman skied another opportunity before Grant made a vital block tackle to deny him.

In the final minute, home substitute Damien Stevens struck an effort from the edge of the box which was deflected for a corner, and from the restart, play switched rapidly to the other end where Longstaff lofted the ball over the bar with the last kick of the game.

Ashington: Grant, Henderson, Laidler, Blandford, J Harmison, Christensen, Gunn, Downey, Bulford, B Harmison, McAndrew. Subs: Stevens, Harvey, Taylor, Farrell, Cooper, Trialist 1, Trialist 2.

Newcastle United XI: Woolston, Broccoli, Gibson, Ward, Newberry, Hunter, Holmes, Longstaff, Heardman, Charman, El-Mhanni.

Attendance: 707.