Rae hat-trick for league leaders is too good for Ashington

Ashington FC's Andrew Bulford. Picture by Gary Welford
Ashington FC's Andrew Bulford. Picture by Gary Welford

Michael Rae scored a hat-trick as Shildon extended their lead at the top of the Ebac Northern League first division with a 4-1 victory over Ashington at Woodhorn Lane.

Tuesday night’s game was one the sides were ordered to be played a second time after the Railwaymen – who won the original clash 2-1 in October – fielded a player who did not have international clearance.

But for the umpteenth time this season, Steve Harmison’s men shot themselves in the foot early doors and were left chasing the game after a wretched opening.

Only 70 seconds had elapsed when Sam Hodgson played the ball through for the unmarked Rae and he curled a right footer from 16 yards wide of keeper Conor Grant.

The Colliers had the upper hand for the next ten minutes before they found themselves 2-0 down.

Rae met a cross from the right flank and his looping header dropped under the bar. Grant attempted to punch the ball clear but only succeeded in helping it over the line.

And Ashington’s misfiring start deteriorated even further when they were forced to make a change midway through the period with Lee Scott replacing the injured Paul Weldon.

Two minutes later, Scott, in the inside right position, latched onto a clearance from ex-Ashington keeper Kyle Hayes and tried an audacious lob from all of 40 yards which was on target but which was clutched by Hayes returning to his goal.

Grant deflected an effort from Rae wide then Ben Wood missed a glorious chance when he beat the offside trap and found himself one-on-one with Grant but put his shot wide.

At the start of the second period, a chipped effort from Scott Gunn was turned over by Hayes, then Matty Grieve directed a near post header just wide.

Skipper Andrew Johnson, returning after missing the last two games with flu, blasted a 20 yarder just over before Rae effectively put the game to bed with a goal to seal his hat-trick in the 65th minute.

A long goal kick from Hayes bounced over the Ashington defence and Rae fired home with ease from eight yards.

Shildon could have extended their lead with Billy Greulich-Smith foiled by Grant and Anthony Bell denied by a last ditch tackle by Grieve before Andrew Bulford reduced the deficit on 81 minutes.

Michael Dixon claimed the assist and Bulford fired wide of Hayes.

Referee Graeme Hopper then had a frantic finale as he yellow carded three players inside as many minutes, then in the second minute of time added on, Wing added Shildon’s fourth with a right foot drive.

Ashington: Grant, Christensen, Weldon (Scott 23), Downey, Dunn, Grieve, Gunn (Bains 63), Dixon, Bulford, B Harmison, Johnson. Subs not used: J Harmison, Douglas.

Attendance: 166.

On Saturday, Ashington travel to face West Auckland.