Ashington come from behind to secure point against Bishops

Ashington's Joe Race. Picture by Gavin Perry
Ashington's Joe Race. Picture by Gavin Perry

Ashington completed a footballing hat-trick with a difference against Bishop Auckland on Saturday.

For the third game in a row they took some reward from their clash after scoring late goals.

The previous week, three strikes in the final 20 minutes resulted in a 3-1 win over West Allotment Celtic, then in midweek two goals in the closing ten minutes secured a 2-1 success over Whitley Bay.

On Saturday at Woodhorn Lane, the visitors were seemingly on course for victory until Colliers skipper Andrew Johnson and substitute Joe Race produced right foot strikes which secured a share of the spoils.

In light of the news that the recent home league defeat by Shildon is to be wiped from the records and replayed after the Railwaymen fielded an ineligible player, the point against Bishops consequently extended the Wansbeck club’s recent good run to five straight wins and a draw in October.

With regular keeper Conor Grant ruled out with injury, Ashington handed a debut to Ben Dudzinski.

The newcomer could have been picking the ball out of the net in the early stages as Stuart Thompson cut across the area but fired wide.

However, the game changed dramatically inside the space of two minutes.

On 13 minutes only the brilliance of Bishops stopper Mark Bell prevented a certain opener. Johnson’s free kick was blocked but picked up by Chris Moore and when he crossed, Ben Harmison’s downward header set up Lee Scott who smashed a volley from ten yards which Bell somehow kept out.

Bishops’ response was to take the lead following a slick move.

Thomas Bott initially cut open the home defence with a pass out of defence and when the ball was played into Johnson, the striker made no mistake with a clinical finish.

Twice in a minute Ashington’s Johnson had chances to level. The first after a move involving Scott and Ben Harmison but the skipper’s shot went agonisingly wide.

Then an astute pass from Ben Harmison found Johnson who cut inside but saw his effort fisted away by Bell.

Three minutes from the break, Jeff Smith for Bishops found Johnson whose right footer was tipped wide by Dudzinski.

The visitors’ Johnson also blazed over a marvellous chance, then in the 57th minute the home custodian partly blocked from Scott McCarthy and with the ball rolling agonisingly towards the net, Liam Atkin got back to make a last ditch clearance off the line.

Dudzinski denied McCarthy before Johnson doubled his side’s lead, unleashing a drive which took a deflection before leaving Dudzinski helpless.

The visitors ought to have put the game beyond the Colliers as McCarthy and Thompson frittered away good opportunities – and they paid the penalty.

In the 76th minute, Ashington got back into the game as Johnson produced a right foot sizzler from just inside the box which flew past Bell and lodged inside the far corner.

James Harmison headed over before Race levelled with five minutes of normal time remaining on the clock.

The substitute had only been on the field ten minutes when he unleashed a drive which took a slight deflection before bulging the net past a stranded Bell.

Even then the Colliers could have won in the dying seconds with Bell gratefully clutching a header from James Harmison following a corner on the right.

Ashington: Dudzinski, Blandford (Grieve 86), Oliver, Dixon, Atkin, J Harmison, Moore (Race 75), Downey, Scott (King 70), B Harmison, Johnson. Subs not used: Hotchkiss, Williams.

Attendance: 245.

On Saturday Ashington travel to play Dronfield Town in the first round proper of the FA Vase.

If a replay is required, it will be staged at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday, November 3, with an 8pm kick-off, if not then the Colliers will be at home to Heaton Stannington on Tuesday night in the second round of the League Cup with a 7.30pm start.