Ten-man Ashington battle to draw at Marske

Ashington striker Ben Harmison. Picture by Ian Appleby
Ashington striker Ben Harmison. Picture by Ian Appleby

An under-strength Ashington battled to a hard won point at Marske on Saturday after going down to ten men midway through the second half.

Ben Harmison had headed the visitors in front following a bright opening, but Peter Bulmer equalised after the break before the Colliers’ Paul Anthony received a second yellow card.

But Ashington held firm and deservedly came away with a point.

The squad was depleted by injuries and work commitments, and with manager Steven Harmison unavailable, the management team of Ian Skinner and Lee Anderson made four changes to the team that started the midweek defeat at Morpeth Town.

Ashington started brightly and on six minutes a quick break by Ben Harmison saw a last ditch tackle deny the Ashington striker an opportunity as the ball was cleared for a corner.

The kick from the left by Anthony caused panic in the home defence and Liam O’Sullivan could only head the ball for another corner as James Harmison threatened.

The resulting set-piece saw Kyle Downey swing the ball in from the right and Ben Harmison rose the highest to power a header home from six yards out to give the Colliers a 1-0 lead.

This shook Marske into a response and on 11 minutes a ball into the box from Bulmer was controlled by Ashley Coffey who turned and shot but keeper Conor Grant got down well to save.

Ben Cristensen then made two brave blocks in quick succession throwing his body in the way of efforts by Coffey then Bulmer.

Ashington almost extended their lead shortly afterwards when O’Sullivan dallied on the ball and Ben Harmison pounced to rob him. The Ashington forward quickly closed in on goal but was denied at first by Dean in the Marske goal then when the rebound fell to him his effort just cleared the bar.

Craig Gott had a good opportunity to bring the home side level on 29 minutes when a corner from the left was only half cleared by the Ashington defence but he rushed his effort to fire over when well placed.

Anthony and Downey then combined well to send Ben Harmison in on goal but his stinging shot was collected well low down by Dean.

Just before half-time Marske had a good opportunity when Daniel Earl was sent clear in the box but his effort across goal beat the left upright to leave Ashington in front at the break.

Early in the second half Anthony was unfortunate to pick up a booking for an innocuous looking tackle on Bulmer.

Marske were unlucky not to draw level on 52 minutes when Coffey struck an effort that took a slight deflection before striking the right upright and going out for a corner.

But they were not to be denied as the resulting kick was punched clear by Grant but the ball was not cleared by the Ashington defence and when it fell to Bulmer on the edge of the box his driven effort flew into the top left corner of the visitors goal.

Ashington were delivered a further blow soon after as they were forced down to ten men for the remaining 25 minutes when Anthony was given a second yellow for upending Gott.

A quick reshuffle of the pack saw Lee McAndrew and Ryan McGorrigan replace Downey and Andrew Bulford.

Joseph Smith was denied twice in quick succession from Grant, first when he pushed a long range effort round the post and then when he saved low from a shot from the corner.

Ashington were defending resolutely by this point and repelled wave after wave of Marske attacks.

Coffey and Gott both went close with efforts from the edge of the box and Earl saw a goalbound effort blocked by a brave diving lunge from Ryan Bell.

The visitors almost shocked the home side late on when a quick break saw McAndrew play the ball in to Ben Harmison on the edge of the box and his turn and shot looked to be heading into the top corner but sailed just wide.

Then in the dying moments Ashington had strong penalty claims denied when McGorrigan looked to have been pushed from behind, but the referee waved away the appeals.

The final whistle brought the end to a good battling display from the ten men of Ashington, which brought them a deserved point against a team riding high in the league.

Ashington: Grant, Henderson, Salmon, Anthony, Harmison (J), Bell, Sampson, Downey (McGorrigan 67), Bulford (McAndrew 67), Harmison (B), Christenson.

Attendance: 184.