Ashington are through to the quarter-finals of the Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup after a magnificent 2-0 victory over league leaders Celtic Nation at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday night.
The Colliers’ victory earned them a tie at Tow Law in the next round.
What was a thoroughly deserved success was built on the foundation of a terrific first period during which they held a two-goal cushion given to them by superb strikes from Darren Lough and Andrew Johnson.
Gary Middleton’s side could hardly have made a better start as they took the lead in the third minute following a brilliant move.
It began with a scintillating pass down the right flank by Glen Taylor to Johnson and when the skipper played the ball across into the area, Kyle Oliver’s instinctive, clever and intentional back flick rolled into the path of Lough who finished well to beat keeper Dan Lowson from eight yards out.
In the 12th minute the Colliers should have doubled their lead after a similar move.
Sam Norris made strides down the right wing and when he crossed, Johnson’s flick across goal fell to Lance McGlen but the full back – making his first start in a black and white shirt for four months following a groin operation – lashed over with only Lowson to beat.
However, midway through the half, Ashington – who looked dangerous with every attack – added a second through talismanic skipper Johnson.
He latched onto a back header and used his pace to nip past a defender then stab a right footer inside the far corner wide of the advancing Lowson.
Nation, who included ex-Colliers defenders Liam Atkin and Matty Grieve in there starting line-up, had their first shot at goal on the half hour which centre forward Colin McMenamin – who had scored a hat-trick three days earlier in a 4-3 win over Shildon – shanked wide.
Then the same player played a one-two with Jonathan Allan and netted but the effort was disallowed for offside.
Ashington, lively and full of energy, looked to add to their tally and shortly before the interval a 60-yard over the top pass from James Taylor was almost inch perfect fro Norris until Lowson intercepted just in the nick of time.
Early in the second period, a cross from the left saw William Gibson slice wide for the visitor, then a throw out by home keeper Karl Dryden led to a slick move involving Glen Taylor and Oliver but when the latter slipped the ball through to Norris, he was halted in his tracks by a timely tackle.
Chances were few and far between with Celtic substitute Glen Lane firing wide before another intelligent and defence splitting pass by Kyle Downey found sub David Carson whose first touch let him down and the ball went out of play.
It was Carson who in the 82nd minute cut inside after receiving from Dean Briggs but directed a shot over, then in the first minute of time added on, Dryden was called into action, saving from Nathan Luscombe.
Ashington: Dryden, L Scott, McGlen, Oliver, C Scott, J Taylor (Carson 63 mins), Norris (Briggs 73 mins), Downey, Johnson, G Taylor, Lough. Subs not used: Walton, Barnard.