A SECOND half brace by Andrew Johnson led Ashington to their first league win for two months against basement club South Shields at Filtrona Park on Tuesday night.
Johnson took his tally for the season to 18 with a timely double in the 47th and 67th minutes.
But the Colliers had to work hard on a mud bath of a pitch before celebrating their first three points since they delivered a 6-0 thumping over Sunderland RCA back in November.
The Mariners certainly belied their bottom rung placing and were the busier outfit in the opening exchanges with visiting keeper Karl Dryden fisting out an effort on target from Steven Graham after only 95 seconds.
Jonny Wightman – playing against his former club – looked lively and skilful throughout and in the seventh minute was denied the opener by the brilliance of Dryden who kept out his header from a right wing cross.
It took Ashington a full quarter hour to have a shot on goal with Gareth Bainbridge’s strike being held by keeper James Winter.
But the Wansbeck side eventually came into the game with Paul Antony slotting through a promising ball for Johnson who was in a good position until defender Mark Brown got back well to block.
In the 33rd minute, new signing Glen Taylor – who was to feature in the decisive goals – saw his header from a Johnson corner cleared off the line by Barry Smith.
Then Taylor and Darren Lough combined down the left to set up Bainbridge whose header was held by Winter.
Three minutes before the interval, Shields had a great opening following a corner on the left by Chris Feasey, but Brown put his shot over.
The Colliers got off to the best possible start in the second half when Johnson broke the deadlock two minutes in.
He initially found Taylor whose left foot drive was pushed out by Winter with the rebound falling into the path of Johnson who swept home right footed inside the far corner.
Incredibly, only two minutes later the home side ought to have levelled with a mirror image opportunity.
Wightman’s effort was parried by Dryden but Stephen Ramsey missed a sitter, side-footing over.
A massive turning point occurred in the 65th minute when a low drive from distance by substitute Barry Marshall thudded against the foot of the post.
Ninety seconds later the Colliers doubled their lead.
The score resulted from a neat move down the left involving Taylor and Lough and when the latter found Johnson, the striker’s right footer from just inside the penalty area slithered through the hands of Winter and into the net.
Taylor and substitute Josh Gray missed further chances then Dryden had to be alert to keep out another effort from Wightman.
Before the final whistle there was a boost for manager Gary Middleton when striker Phill Bell, who has been sidelined since August through injury, came on to make a brief appearance when replacing debutant Taylor.
Ashington: Dryden, Mellish, Lough, Antony, Atkin, Grieve, Johnson, J Taylor, G Taylor (Bell 89), Hodgson (O’Dea 62), Bainbridge (Gray 70). Subs not used: Heaman, Dugdale.