Newton Aycliffe 3
Newton Aycliffe ran out comfortable winners by a 3-0 scoreline at a snow-covered Moore Lane ground on Tuesday night to send Ashington tumbling to their fifth reverse from six outings.
Yet for the umpteenth time this season, the story could have been so different as Glen Taylor and Andrew Johnson squandered good opportunities in the opening half. And the woes continue for boss Gary Middleton as midfielder James Taylor was carried off towards the end of the contest with an injury.
A prolonged snow shower which started just as the teams were leaving the dressing room but gladly stopped once the game had begun, left the pitch with a light covering – and the Wansbeck side made a positive start.
Glen Taylor got possession and advanced down the left but with an option to square the ball for Andrew Johnson, the striker elected to shoot and blasted the ball over. Five minutes later following a mistake by home keeper James Winter, Taylor tried to roll the ball across the area but it was intercepted.
Kyle Downey flashed a left-footed drive into the side netting before the home side carved out a great chance in the 20th minute but Jordan Laidler curled his shot wide of the advancing Conor Grant. However, Laidler’s finishing was more accurate six minutes later as he put his side in front from a free kick. The centre forward stepped up and from 22 yards, clipped the ball over the wall and into the roof of the net, leaving Grant to grasp thin air.
Andrew Ferrell and James Taylor then linked neatly in midfield and when the latter put the ball through for Johnson, he beat a defender but fired a powder puff effort which Winter saved with ease. Incredibly five minutes later, Johnson latched onto another pass and again came inside on his left foot but fired an identical shot at Winter.
Glen Taylor headed a Johnson free-kick wide before the home side doubled their advantage two minutes from the break via a cast iron penalty. Grant’s poor throw out gifted Aycliffe possession and when Dennis Knight jinked inside the area, he was sent sprawling by Brown.
Redcar-based referee Simon Clayton pointed to the spot and Stuart Banks made no mistake, sending Grant the wrong way. Early in the second period, Johnson had a free-kick deflected and pushed against the bar by Winter then Zak Boagey went close with a 25 yarder.
Middleton gave Kieran Hogg his first taste of Ebac Northern League First Division football just past the hour mark and the full-back was quickly involved along with Johnson, Glen Taylor and James Taylor in a move which ended with Ferrell heading wide. Seconds later, a glancing header on by Johnson carved out a marvellous opportunity for sub Tony Stephenson but when he looked a certain scorer, his shot was blocked by Winter.
However, in the 72nd minute Aycliffe effectively wrapped up the points when Paul Garthwaite’s drive was parried out by Grant – but only into the path of the lurking Laidler who slotted into an empty net. Grant fisted out another effort from Garthwaite before Ashington – having used all three substitutes – were forced to see out ten minutes of time added on for stoppages a man short as Taylor was carried off.
So a night which began so promisingly, ended with disappointment and all under the eyes of Bishop Auckland manager David Bayles whose side meet the Colliers at Kingsway on Tuesday, January 20, in the Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup.
Ashington: Grant, Airey, Davison (Hogg 62 minutes), Ferrell, McGlen, Brown, J Taylor, Shaw (Stephenson 58 minutes), Johnson, G Taylor, Downey (Oliver 77 minutes). Subs not used: McClelland, Barnard (gk).
Referee: Simon Clayton (Redcar).