SUNDERLAND RCA striker Gavin Barton scored a hat-trick as Ashington CFC were made to pay the penalty in more ways than one in a 5-1 defeat at Meadow Lane on Saturday.
Whilst the home side stretched their unbeaten run to four matches this season and punished the Colliers for slackness in defence, the undoubted turning point came within 20 seconds after the start of the second period when striker Stephen Young had a penalty saved.
That came at a time when Gary Middleton’s men were already 2-1 behind – and within two minutes, RCA had extended their lead.
Ashington were caught out twice in a first half in which they gave as good as they got from the home side.
Indeed, it was the Wansbeck side who took the lead in the fifth minute with a stunning strike from Gareth Bainbridge, pictured.
Skipper Chris Scott won the ball in midfield before playing it into space down the right for Bainbridge who lobbed the ball to perfection over the advancing Gary Hoggeth.
It was just the boost the Colliers had wanted following the good display but 2-0 defeat against Whitley Bay in midweek.
However, within a minute RCA had drawn level after an error by Karl Dryden.
After a through pass down the right, the keeper – with defender Dean Deagle at close quarters – hesitated towards the edge of his area which allowed Joe Walton to nip in and lift the ball over him.
On the quarter hour, Mark Davison appeared a certain scorer at the far post but Deagle got across to block him then Lee Owens clipped a cross from Walton over when well placed.
Ashington came back and a 20-yard effort from Chris Fawcett was held by Hoggeth, play switched with Andrew Cuthbertson firing over.
James Taylor made a superb block on the half hour to halt Davison who had turned inside the box, but with two minutes of the first period remaining RCA went in front with a goal out of the blue on the counter attack by Barton.
The home side pieced together a move which went through the middle and onto the left where Barton, just inside the box, turned and with Dryden in no man’s land, saw his chip float over the keeper and just inside the far post.
Ashington began the second half in meaningful mood with Fawcett raiding down the left, and when he crossed, the ball was handled inside the box by Carl Beasley.
However, from the resultant spot kick, Young’s low effort destined for just inside the post was brilliantly tipped away by Hoggeth.
It went from bad to worse as two minutes later RCA extended their lead.
A cross from the right went over the top of the head of James Harmison and fell to Barton who swivelled and struck a left footer from eight yards which thudded against the underside of the bar and bounced over the line.
Twenty minutes later the game was effectively over as RCA added a fourth.
A free kick from the right by substitute Stephen Halliday was met by Barton who made no mistake with a thumping header.
Bainbridge produced two efforts – both from 25 yards – the latter which was held by Hoggeth but in the 89th minute, Halliday was upended by Scott and Mark Davison drove home the resultant spot kick sending Dryden the wrong way.
In the first minute of stoppage time RCA almost added a sixth but a header from substitute Gary Shields was cleared off the line by Harmison.
Ashington: Dryden, Taylor, Deagle, Buzzeo (Grieve 83 mins), Harmison, Rees, Chris Scott, Johnson, Young, Bainbridge, Fawcett. Subs not used: Dunn, Race, Graham.
Former Ashington keeper Kyle Hayes was in inspired form and turned in a man of the match display to help his side to a 2-0 derby win over the Colliers last midweek.
Gary Middleton’s side gave one of their best displays in months but after Hayes had repelled everything Ashington threw at them, the Seahorses stung the visitors with two goals inside as many minutes.
Robbie Dale’s deflected shot opened the scoring in the 69th minute with Paul Robinson adding the second.
On Saturday Ashington return to FA Cup duty with a match in the preliminary round against Northallerton at Woodhorn Lane (3pm).
In the event of a draw, the replay will be on Wednesday, September 7, at the Regency Stadium (7.45pm kick-off).
That game would then take precedence over Ashington’s Northern League league clash at home to Guisborough, scheduled for Tuesday, September 6.