Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup, second round
Ashington 3, Thornaby 3
(Ashington won 5-3 on penalties aet)
Ashington preserved their unbeaten home record on Tuesday night – but only after using a get out of jail card against Thornaby and eventually going through into the next round of the Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup after a penalty shoot-out.
An absorbing, thrilling and non stop encounter included just about everything with Thornaby’s David Wells the scorer of what must rank as being one of the best ever goals scored at Woodhorn Lane whilst the Teesiders had Ricky Phillips red-carded just before the end of extra time.
Gary Middleton’s men - who turned in a poor performance on the night - were forced to fight back after trailing 2-0 and 3-1 whilst the plucky visitors clearly belied their lowly Ebac Northern League second division placing and will feel totally disappointed about receiving a knock-out punch.
They had Ashington on the back foot right from the start and inside two minutes following a cross from the left by Wells, Joseph Melvin’s header was cleared off the line by Craig Scott.
However, in the 18th minute, only the sheer brilliance of keeper Michael Duff prevented the Colliers from taking the lead.
Andrew Johnson headed into the path of Dean Briggs whose right foot curler was heading for the far corner until Duff pulled off a magnificent stop, diving full stretch to his right to finger tip the ball away. Ashington were struggling to get into any sort of rhythm yet five minutes later, a quickly taken free kick by Lee Scott set up Johnson who weaved through only to fire narrowly wide. Still the visitors, playing some neat controlled football, posed a threat and after Dryden had saved with his legs to deny Melvin, the same player met a corner from the right by Wells and steered a header which was kicked off the line by Briggs.
Darren Lough had an opportunity following another free kick but was blocked by Duff with Walton picking up the rebound but driving across the face of the goal.
There was a further shock in store for the home side as Thornaby edged in front seconds before the half time whistle. Melvin played the ball to Phillips who burst through before calmly curling a right foot shot from the edge of the penalty area wide of Dryden and just inside the post. Early in the second period, Walton directed a header straight at Duff before the visitors added a second in the 51st minute - and in spectacular fashion – with a rocket from Wells.
The ball was played across the park with Wells running onto it and hitting a left-footed screamer from 22 yards which almost ripped the netting off as it flew into the corner leaving Dryden helpless.
Glen Taylor missed out with an opportunity set up by Oliver before on the hour, the visitors almost got a gift wrapped third as Lee Scott – attempting to find Dryden with a cushioned header – put the ball wide of the keeper which clipped the base of the post and ran out for a corner.
However, still playing below par, Ashington got a lifeline in the 68th minute when David Carson crossed from the left for Glen Taylor who planted a firm header past Duff and into the corner.
Phillips and Craig Winter both picked up yellow cards in quick succession before the visitors restored their two goals advantage on 76 minutes. Carson, just outside his own penalty area was closed down by Calum Wilson as he tried to play the ball up field which saw the rebound fall kindly to Wilson who, with only Dryden to beat, had an easy task in driving home.
The action intensified even further as the Colliers drew level with two goals inside three minutes. With 10 minutes left on the clock, a cross from substitute Sam Norris saw Johnson held back in the box with referee Mark Edwards pointing to the spot and Walton made no mistake from the resultant penalty.
Wilson had a shot tipped over by Dryden before Glen Taylor played a delightful through pass from the right for the onrushing Johnson who latched onto it and steered past Duff.
There was little in the way of goalmouth action in extra time – with Glen Taylor having a header chalked off for a foul following a free-kick by Johnson in the first period and the striker being thwarted by Duff after the change over.
Then two minutes before the end, Phillips caught Kyle Oliver with late challenge and having been cautioned earlier, received his marching orders.
However with no further score, the game went to penalties. Oliver, Johnson, and Walton netted for Ashington with replies from Wells and Gerard Livingstone before Wilson’s effort struck the bar.
Glen Taylor made it 4-2 then after Bradley Wright had been successful for Thornaby, Colliers supporters breathed a huge sigh of relief when substitute Kyle Downey fired in to clinch the Colliers a spot in the next round.
Ashington: Dryden, L Scott (Norris 64 minutes), Lough, Oliver, C Scott, J Taylor, Briggs, Johnson, Walton, G Taylor, Carson (Downey 101 minutes). Subs not used: McGorrigan, Race, Barnard (gk)
Referee: Mark Edwards (Gateshead)