It is said to have been the late Brian Clough who instigated the cliché ‘It only takes a second to score a goal’.
On Saturday at Meadow Park, Ashington’s Andrew Johnson tweaked the phrase to ‘It only takes a second to affect a game.’
For it was following a magical piece of skill by the skipper that the Colliers wrapped up victory – only their second of the month – with a late winner from the trusty boot of striker Marc Walton.
Still harbouring hopes of a top six finish, the Wansbeck side rode their luck and were fortunate to pick up all the points against a side who are battling for top flight survival in the Ebac Northern League.
It was not a polished performance from Gary Middleton’s side, more a result which they had to grind out as they completed a season’s double over their Ryhope-based hosts.
Inside 71 seconds the Colliers stopped when appealing for a handling decision which never came and Kyle Fryatt went close to opening the scoring.
Ashington responded and Walton almost cashed in on hesitancy in the home rearguard following a through ball by Kyle Oliver, but he hit the side netting.
Ben Christensen intercepted well to bring another home raid to a halt then James Taylor found James Novak who slipped the ball through for Walton whose left foot effort was taken by home keeper Jonathan Carmichael at the second attempt.
Joseph Hughes was lively up front and he again threatened until Christensen made another important challenge.
Midway through the half the Colliers took the lead with a calm finish from Walton.
David Carson supplied the cross from the right which went past the first defender and fell to Walton who finished well, tucking a right foot shot from eight yards wide of Carmichael.
Within 60 seconds play had switched to the other end where Hughes fired wide from the edge of the area, then visiting keeper Karl Dryden was called into action to stop the same player.
A pile driver from Jack Stanger flashed wide then Oliver was not far away for Ashington before Jim Wilson’s effort from 16 yards struck the bar and was cleared.
Carmichael saved well from Glen Taylor but after Wilson had again hit the post with the ball rebounding straight into Dryden’s arms, the home side deservedly drew level.
As play began to enter time added on, the ball was played across where Fryatt gave Dryden no chance with a crisp drive.
Ten minutes into the second period, Dryden denied Hughes then Walton turned his marker inside the area but saw his effort saved by Carmichael.
Midway through the half Wilson had the ball in the Ashington net following a shot across the face of goal by Hughes, but the effort was ruled out for offside.
Carmichael foiled Carson; Glen Taylor lobbed over then in the 83rd minute, RCA somehow kept the ball out with numerous blocks to deny Walton twice and Johnson.
Glen Taylor had a header disallowed for offside and Callum Patton fired just over before referee Elton Martin played a great advantage allowing Johnson the opportunity to continue his run from near the touchline. The skipper skilfully wriggled through two defenders and then crossed for Walton who made no mistake at the far post for his 22nd goal of the season.
On Friday Ashington begin a run of four games in nine days when they take on title chasing Shildon at Woodhorn Lane, where kick-off is 7.30pm.
On Tuesday, April 8, the Colliers travel to face Blyth Spartans in the semi-final replay of the Techflow Group Northumberland Senior Cup before they take on Team Northumbria at Benton on Thursday, April 10, which is followed by a home game on Saturday, April 12, against Dunston UTS.
Ashington: Dryden, McGlen, L Scott (A Downey 66), Oliver, J Taylor, Christensen, Carson (Brittain 77), Johnson, Walton (K Downey 90), G Taylor, Novak. Subs not used: Norris, Blandford.