MARC Walton scored his second goal in as many games to steer Ashington to a narrow victory over lowly Tow Law Town at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.
Walton struck with a little over ten minutes remaining to wrap up a season’s double over the Durham side just when it began to look as if the Colliers were going to rue missed chances.
After back to back defeats in December against Whitley Bay and Dunston, Gary Middleton’s side are now unbeaten in their last four outings with a 2-2 draw against Guisborough on the Saturday before Christmas followed by three consecutive wins.
On Saturday the Colliers had to graft hard and dig deep before seeing off their opponents.
It was not a free flowing performance with slick interchanging play – moreover a slog – but the sheer fact that they picked up a maximum haul from the last two games again demonstrates how far Ashington have improved as a team in terms of winning despite a showing which was below par.
In the 3-1 win over Norton in the New Year, Andrew Johnson had put the Wansbeck side ahead after only 52 seconds.
On Saturday, the midfielder ought to have repeated the feat following approach work involving Paul Buzzeo, Phill Bell and Tommy English but he fired the wrong side of keeper Stephen Robinson’s left hand post.
However, Middleton’s outfit still made an encouraging opening when they nudged ahead in the fifth minute from a set piece,
They won a corner on the right and when English delivered a pin point cross, Johnson wriggled free from his marker to head firmly home into the roof of the net.
But home followers who then expected their team to push on against a side second from bottom were left in a daze.
The visitors totally belied their position to have chances of their own with skipper Liam Atkin blocking out Andrew Thompson before the same player went through after Gareth Rees had missed his challenge but skied over from the edge of the area.
Marc Nixon then tried his luck from a similar distance with keeper Karl Dryden forced to turn the ball aside.
Ashington cam back when a 20-yard chip from English was tipped over by Robinson with Phill Bell heading the resultant corner off target.
Then English fed Walton who drove wide from 18 yards.
The Lawyers eventually drew level just past the half hour mark with Rees having no case to answer after he had climbed all over Nixon.
Newton Aycliffe referee Simon Clayton had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Nixon made no mistake, confidently stroking the ball home with Dryden going the wrong way.
And only the thickness of the woodwork saved Ashington from going behind eight minutes into the second half after Tow Law had been awarded a free kick 25 yards out.
Andrew Thompson let fly with a terrific strike which beat Dryden all ends up but smacked against the crossbar.
The game could have gone either way but after a snap shot from distance from Thompson had been pushed around by Dryden, it was the Colliers who finished the stronger side in the final 20 minutes.
Bell fired wide on a couple of occasions and was also denied by Robinson whilst a rasping volley from substitute Gareth Bainbridge had goal written all over it until the ball struck Tow Law player manager Ian Davison on the six-yard line and was cleared.
Eventually the pressure paid off in the 78th minute. Apart from having made an enforced change early in the game with Bainbridge replacing the injured Jonny Godsmark, boss Middleton made a double change, withdrawing English and Buzzeo with Mark O’Dea and Damen Mullen being thrust into the fray.
Minutes later, a lovely quickfire one-two between Johnson and Mullen prised open the visitors defence inside the area and when the former slipped the ball across to the far post, the unmarked Walton, pictured slotted home.
The Colliers had chances to add more with Bell twice being thwarted by Robinson whilst Bainbridge lifted the ball over when well placed – all of which left home supporters relieved to hear the final whistle.
Ashington: Dryden, Buzzeo (Mullen 70 mins), Scott, J Taylor, Atkin, Rees, Bell, English (O’Dea 70 mins), Walton, Godsmark (Bainbridge 18 mins), Johnson. Subs not used: Grieve, Deagle.
On Saturday, Ashington travel to face Spennymoor (3pm).