ASHINGTON CFC continued their giant killing act on Saturday by toppling Blue Square Bet North side Guiseley to move into the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup for the first time since 1974.
And recent signing Jamie Clarke was the hero of the hour after his superbly taken goal shortly before the half hour mark proved to be the match winner.
Clarke’s introduction has been nothing short of phenomenal.
The goal was his tenth goal in seven starts and the appetite at Woodhorn Lane is such that after this latest success, who would bet against Gary Middleton’s side to go one step further and reach the first round proper.
Apart from having to withstand second half pressure and a few anxious flutters in the closing ten minutes, it was a victory which they thoroughly deserved.
And just as the cup run goes on, so too does the Wansbeck outfit’s impressive unbeaten record which was extended to 11 matches.
Guiseley, like Vauxhall Motors beforehand, came to Woodhorn Lane as strong favourites and not surprisingly as both sides are three divisions above the STL Northern League’s first division in the pyramid system.
But the Colliers certainly tamed the Lions in a first period in which they were the better side.
Ashington probed from the start, Clarke forcing a corner then Jonny Godsmark before linking well to set up Chris Fawcett who was thwarted on the edge of the box.
In the 13th minute a volleyed through ball from the back from Liam Atkin found Clarke whose first time effort was held by keeper Steve Drench.
The effort forced Guiseley into action and after a 30 yarder from Michael Burns had stung Karl Dryden’s hands, Gavin Rothery’s effort dipped narrowly over.
Clarke and Fawcett both fired over before Gary Middleton’s men broke the deadlock in the 27th minute.
Atkin found Mark O’Dea who advanced before sending Godsmark away down the right.
The striker drew Drench before playing the ball across for Clarke who finished well with his left foot from the edge of the six-yard box, squeezing the ball between the inside of the post and that of a covering defender’s outstretched leg.
Five minutes before the break the balance could have been tilted even further in Ashington’s favour but for a miraculous goal-line clearance.
Godsmark, who teased the Guiseley defence all afternoon, showed some wonderful close control near the by-line, wriggling past several challenges before laying the ball on a plate for Andrew Johnson, whose side-footed effort was goalbound until Mark Bower somehow headed clear.
The Yorkshire side dominated possession in the second period.
Apart from Clarke misdirecting a header and also being snuffed out, chances failed to materialise for an Ashington side who were nevertheless still a threat on the break.
But similar to the last round at Vauxhall, the Colliers were forced to defend. But how well they did with the whole of the back four dominant and outstanding.
On the hour, substitute Gavin Allott turned neatly inside the area but applied a weak connection and his shot was taken by Dryden.
Lee Ellington was foiled by Dryden with James Taylor clearing, then Rothery was also denied by the keeper.
With a little over quarter of an hour remaining, Rothery was halted by a superb tackle inside the box by the ever-alert Taylor, and although there were a few nailbiting moments towards the final whistle, it was the Colliers who deservedly marched through to the next round.
Ashington: Dryden, Taylor, Scott, Dugdale (Mullen 75 minutes), Atkin, Grieve, Johnson, O’Dea, Clarke (Race 80 minutes), Godsmark, Fawcett. Subs not used: Rees, Graham, Deagle, Buzzeo, Hogg.
On Saturday, Ashington return to STL Northern League action when they travel to Stokesley.