Ashington 1-2 Ryhope CW
Another League game; another defeat and yet another hard luck story for Ashington, writes Brian Bennett.
Any other season, the Colliers would be fighting for survival as they continue to flirt at the wrong end of the Ebac Northern League division one table.
With five games remaining they sit fourth from bottom of the pile and are only separated on goal difference from what would normally be a dreaded relegation place.
Only this term the shackles appear to be off as it looks at most that only one team will drop into the second division.
The Wansbeck outfit have competed, matched and taken points against the best – but in some games, lapses have ultimately proved costly – a point which was highlighted again on Saturday at Woodhorn Lane when Ryhope CW completed the double over them having won 2-0 at the Recreation ground only a month ago:
“Yes we deserved a point,” said Ashington’s interim manager Ian Skinner afterwards, “We were pleased with the performance but not with the fact that we have lost another game of football. We made a really poor start.
“We thought we were going to get a situation where we could say ‘same again’ from last week but we lost Wayne Buchanan due to personal circumstances and sometimes things are more important than football and that’s why he was missing today. That led to us fielding a very young and unusual back four in front of our ‘keeper Conor Grant - certainly one who have never trained let alone play together and that was evident for the first 10-15 minutes because they were at sixes and sevens.
“Ryhope looked as if they were going to score with every attack and have hit the post; had a goal disallowed for offside and Conor (Grant) has made a half decent save.”
He continued: “I’ve worked it out that the average age of the team in the first half was 22.54 and the side who ended the game had an average age of 21.12 and if I’m being really honest - and I’ve had time to reflect - I thought we shaded the second half. However we’ve had a eight to ten minutes spell where we rocked a little bit and they (Ryhope) had a free header which the lad has put wide; Conor (Grant) has made a good save and again we’ve conceded a poor goal defensively on a big switch of a pass. We’ve dived in a little bit and committed when we haven’t needed too which has made the lad’s cross a little bit easier and fair enough the striker (Jack Devlin) has got across the front to score - but we have got to defend that better.
“That said, the level of the display was good and if we perform like that between now and the end of the season, you’d like to think we might pick up some points here and there - but we can’t lose sight of the fact that we have lost another game of football and probably undone ourselves a little bit with the two goals which we conceded.”
Devlin had the ball in the net after only two minutes following a move instigated by former Collier Ollie Hotchkiss but the score was wiped out for offside then after a corner on the right, Jack Walker’s effort struck the post. However in the eighth minute, Hotchkiss again sprayed the ball out wide to the right and when it was centred, Jon Weirs forced it home from close range. Ryhope – who came into the contest on the back of a 3-0 victory over leaders Dunston UTS in midweek – had a bit of swagger in their play and after James Ellis had had a shot deflected for a corner, Devlin fired wide.
But Ashington grew into the game and deservedly levelled in the 34th minute with a goal on his home debut by Sammy Perez. A misplaced back pass left ‘keeper Joe Atkinson in man’s land and Perez steadied himself before coolly slotting the ball just inside the post. In the second period, Devlin fired over from 22 yards before Danni Lay made a superb tackle inside the area to stop Perez in his tracks.
Grant made a tremendous reaction save to deny Ryhope skipper Christopher Trewick but in the 68th minute the visitors regained the lead following good work from full back Lewis King. He crossed low towards the near post and Devlin side footed home. That prompted a riposte from the Colliers and on two occasions after receiving from Perez and Ben Sampson respectively, Butler had efforts deflected behind.
From the latter corner by Karl Ross, Chris Youldon’s low right footed drive was arrowing just inside the upright when ‘keeper Joe Atkinson produced a magnificent save diving full stretch to his left to divert the ball around. In the dying minutes, Devlin tried his luck with an audacious 30 yarder after spotting Grant off his line with the ball drifting wide – but the final whistle saw the Colliers applauded off by their supporters despite another reverse.
*On Saturday, Ashington are at home to local rivals Whitley Bay (3pm).