Ashington 0-1 Bishop Auckland
Ashington once again received a standing ovation from their fans after turning in a battling performance on Saturday – but in the end, it was not enough as they fell to a late defeat against Bishop Auckland in their final match of the season at Woodhorn Lane, writes Brian Bennett.
Prolific marksman Andrew Johnson scored the only goal of the game for the visitors and even though the Colliers created little, the display merited a share of the spoils against a side who despite going into the contest without a win in five games – are in the top three of the Ebac Northern League’s first division.
The defining moment of a contest - which was later described by interim manager Ian Skinner as ‘not one for the purists’ - arrived in the 84th minute when a corner was nodded back for Johnson who headed in almost on the goal-line.
It was cruel on Ashington – and with Guisborough picking up a 4-2 victory against Whitley Bay at Hillheads, meant Skinner’s side dropped back into the bottom three.
It was a strange match at the Lane in many respects with referee David Carr the centre of attention as he brandished ten yellow cards – four to the home side and six to Bishops.
The two blues were straight into the faces of the Ashington outfit yet it was Ashington who created first with goalkeeper Christopher Rookes repelling a right footer from Kyle Downey then Sammy Perez firing wide. However in the sixth minute, Johnson missed a glorious opportunity, glancing a header wide of the far upright from a cross by Kyle Fryatt. As the game went flat the visitors picked up a spate of bookings – four inside a 25 minutes spell – with the card count strangely exceeding the number of chances. Karl Ross went close after receiving from Channon North and just prior to the half hour mark, a Downey-Perez short corner on the right saw the latter’s low effort saved by Rookes with his legs. After the dominant opening by Bishops,
Ashington went on to shade the first period – but the visitors turned the tables after the break. Yet early doors, Downey latched onto a cross from Jay Horsnby to stroke the ball the wrong side of the post then Ben Sampson, after a foraging run down the right, cut inside but fired weakly at Rookes. Shaun Ryder directed a 20 yarder over for Bishops before the best move of the match arrived midway through the period when Sampson and Downey worked a couple of slick one-twos which ended with the latter shooting over from 16 yards.
Bishops pieced together a good move switching the play from right to left and after Arran Wearmouth had shrugged off two challenges, his shot was fisted away by home stopper Conor Grant. Curtis Coppen headed over from a Perez free-kick - before Johnson won all three points for Bishops.
*On Tuesday (April 2), Ashington make the short journey to face newly crowned champions Dunston UTS (7.30pm) before bringing the curtain down on their season on Saturday (April 6) when they go to West Auckland (3pm).