Positives for Ashington despite heavy defeat at West Auckland

Striker Marc Walton scores Ashington's goal in the 4-1 defeat at West Auckland. Picture by Ian Appleby - www.ianapplebyimages.com
Striker Marc Walton scores Ashington's goal in the 4-1 defeat at West Auckland. Picture by Ian Appleby - www.ianapplebyimages.com

Ashington have everlasting memories of stirring victories over West Auckland in recent years at Woodhorn Lane.

But to leave the Seagrave Stadium in Durham with three points remains a priceless achievement.

It has never been a happy hunting ground – 2008-09 being the last occasion for a Colliers success – and the wait goes on after Saturday’s 4-1 reverse.

But if there are any crumbs of comfort to come out of the latest clash, the Wansbeck side put up a spirited display, particularly in a second half where they emerged as the better outfit.

Indeed when Steven Richardson tucked away West’s fourth in the last minute of normal time, the strike only served to put a completely false complexion on the score line.

And although the Colliers were two down at the interval, the game effectively centred around the outcome of two penalties, one for either side, during a five-minute period midway through the second half.

Mattie Moffat converted for the home side to make it 3-0 whilst Marc Walton’s effort for the visitors hit the post.

Game over, so it seemed, but then Walton pulled one back before Richardson had the final say.

It was a clash which had just about everything including a snow blizzard, and there were a flurry of chances in a frantic opening.

The league leaders could have gone in front after a mere 33 seconds as Brian Close set up Moffat who cut across the area but fired wide from 16 yards.

For West, Craig Ruddy blazed over and Richardson directed his effort across goal, whilst a low 22 yarder by Kyle Oliver was taken by home keeper Dan Lowson.

But in the eighth minute, from a right sided corner by Kyle Downey, James Harmison directed a drive from penalty spot range which went straight to Lowson when a yard either side of the stopper would surely have found the net.

Two minutes later the hosts went in front after Ruddy had done the spadework.

He crossed to the far post where David Gordon rifled high into the net from ten yards.

Ashington keeper Conor Grant pushed around to deny Ruddy then as the snow cascaded across the pitch, a snap shot from Glen Taylor was grabbed by Lowson.

However, on the half hour the home side added a second. Ruddy was again prominent setting up Moffat, and when he rolled the ball across, midfielder Jonathan Gibson unleashed a stinging right footed drive from 16 yards without breaking stride which gave Grant no chance.

Before the break, the overlapping Ben Christensen had a cross cut out at the near post and Taylor had an effort blocked, then after the interval, Taylor laid off a header from an Oliver cross with Lowson just reaching the ball ahead of Andy Ferrell.

Gibson had a shot tipped over by Grant before a crucial turning point in the 63rd minute when Harmison was adjudged to have blocked a shot by Ruddy with his hand inside the area.

A penalty was awarded and after Harmison had protested his innocence, Moffat stepped forward to score, although Grant dived the right way.

Ashington felt aggrieved at the award but within five minutes, West were similarly up in arms after Tony Stephenson went to ground in the box after coming into contact with Close.

However, although Walton sent Lowson the wrong way, his right footer smacked against the post.

Still the action continued as Moffat hit the woodwork before the Colliers reduced the arrears on 72 minutes.

Lance McGlen was the provider of a pass into the penalty area for Walton who somehow managed to squeeze an excellent left footer on the turn inside the upright despite Lowson being at close hand.

Stephenson was off target from distance before in the 90th minute, West took a quick free kick with Ruddy finding Richardson who spun and fired in from eight yards.

Ashington: Grant, Christensen, McGlen, Ferrell (Airey 89), Harmison, Buchanan, Oliver, Downey, Stephenson (Hayton 85), G Taylor, Davison (Walton 59). Subs not used: Flynn, Robson.

On Saturday Ashington travel to face Consett then on Tuesday, March 3, the Colliers turn their attentions to the Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup with a home tie in the quarter-finals against Guisborough (7.45pm kick-off).