West Auckland 3-0 Ashington
Ashington failed in their bid to get what they most dearly wanted - a victory - from the Wanted Stadium against West Auckland, writes Brian Bennett.
Indeed on Saturday, it was nine years to the day when the Colliers triumphed by a 2-0 score line which represented their last win at Darlington Road against the County Durham outfit.
And in their latest clash, when Anthony Bell netted his second goal – and Auckland’s third – shortly after the interval, it also ensured that an upturn in fortunes for the side from Wansbeck was never going to materialise.
Under the management team of Gary Forrest and Stuart Niven, West – who had toppled title contenders Marske United only days earlier - entered the contest sitting third top of the Ebac Northern League’s first division.
After moving into a 3-0 lead, the hosts took their foot off the pedal and although it took a save of outstanding quality from home ‘keeper Shane Bland to deny Kyle Downey, the result was never in any doubt.
In Bell and Adam Mitchell, West had the top two performers on the day and it was the former who gave his side the perfect start in the eighth minute – albeit with a goal which was shrouded in controversy.
The swiftness of the move cut Ashington apart as Denver Morris sped down the right flank and when he crossed, Nathan Fisher’s flick set up the chance for Bell which he buried inside the post wide of ‘keeper Conor Grant. Ashington contested the score claiming offside and referee Stephen Dial had a lengthy discussion with his assistant before play restarted. Steve Bowey’s side huffed and puffed but struggled to muster a chance whilst West should have added to their lead.
Mitchell side footed wide and later placed a free-kick narrowly past Grant’s right hand post and the ‘keeper fisted away another restart from that man Bell. However in the 36th minute, Ross Colquhoun doubled West’s lead. Again Ashington thought they were harshly done by after the award of a ‘soft’ free-kick and when Mitchell delivered the ball in, Colquhoun, arriving at the back post swept home.
In the final minute of the half, the Colliers looked to have made inroads when Lee Scott glanced on a ball played forward by skipper Craig Scott but Bland nipped in to intercept. Play switched and Mitchell had a shot deflected over following a one-two.
West made a positive start to the second period. After a mere 20 seconds, Bell had a shot which drifted wide – but the classy midfielder made no mistake as he tucked away his next opportunity in the 48th minute with aplomb. He latched onto a through ball from Lewis Dodds and promptly chipped wide of Grant as the stopper advanced.
Dale Pearson hit the side netting before in the 57th minute, Downey met a cross from the right by Lee McAndrew but looked on in astonishment as his goalbound header was kept out by Bland. Grant blocked from Mitchell and then an effort from Arran Wearmouth was deflected for a corner. Ashington introduced Luke Salmon and he was involved in the move on 80 minutes finding Jay Hornsby down the left flank and when the full back crossed, sub Dylan Williamson volleyed wide. In the closing stages, home substitute Mark Doninger drove wide from 20 yards – but that was academic as the three points had been wrapped up by West for a considerable amount of time.