Ashington were dealt a late body blow as Bishop Auckland substitute Jonathan Wright scored a stoppage time winner in their Northern League game at a bitterly cold and windy Heritage Park on Tuesday night.
Wright had only been introduced in the 85th minute, but in the second minute of time added on he side-footed home from 12 yards after the ball had been played through from the left.
It was harsh on an Ashington side who had been forced to dig deep throughout the clash, and who had rode their luck, particularly in the first period when the home side were guilty of squandering a plethora of golden opportunities.
Thirty seconds after Ben Sampson had driven over the home crossbar from distance, the usually prolific Andrew Johnson fluffed his lines, lobbing over as keeper Conor Grant advanced.
However, in the 12th minute, Andrew Bulford was left shaking his head in disbelief when Paul Antony’s free kick was glanced on to him and his flick was goalbound until the ball deviated at the last second and rolled millimetres wide of the post.
Similarly, just how Ashington survived a goalmouth melee in the 19th minute is beyond comprehension. The home side forced successive corners on the right and from the second the ball was cleared off the line.
Michael Hoganson went close with a rasping effort from 30 yards then Priestley Griffiths headed a free kick from Hoganson back across goal but Johnson again missed the target.
It appeared to be only a matter of time before Bishops would break through as the Ashington goal led a charmed life, and in the 26th minute Johnson latched onto a glorious threaded pass from Samuel Orritt to push the ball past Grant but James Harmison cleared.
Johnson fired wide of the far post and in the final minute of the half, Grant was called into action saving from the pacy Ryu Williamson.
Eleven minutes after the break, Ashington thought they had found a way through the home defence.
Antony won a tackle to find David Dormand who in turn sent Dan O’Reilly through the inside left channel but Alex Francis made a superb tackle to thwart him.
The advancing Grant then came out and did enough to knock Orritt off his stride with the midfielder skying the ball over.
The Colliers had a fortunate escape midway through the period. They allowed Francis a free header at the far post which he placed wide following an in-swinging corner on the right by Hoganson.
Five minutes from time, Grant saved with his feet to deny sub James Fairley and a goalless draw seemed the likely outcome – until the visiting keeper was finally beaten with Wright’s goal wrapping up victory for the Two Blues.
On Saturday Ashington are away to Ryhope CW, kick-off 3pm.
Ashington: Grant, Tiffoney (Christensen 46), Salmon, Antony, J Harmison, Buchanan, Sampson, S Bell, Bulford (Canham 46), Dormand (R Bell 81), O’Reilly. Sub not used: Hall.