Ashington bridged a nine-year gap on Saturday when they tasted victory over neighbours Whitley Bay for the first time on home soil since the 2004-05 season.
First half goals from David Carson and Glen Taylor – the latter on the stroke of half-time – put the Colliers into a 2-0 lead, but the final 30 minutes was a cagey affair after Seahorses skipper Paul Chow had netted on the hour from the spot to hand his side a lifeline.
Manager Gary Middleton’s squad were down to the bare bones for a variety of reasons, but his plucky outfit turned in a full blooded performance and in the final analysis deservedly took all the spoils.
It was a game which never scaled any great heights, but that will not matter to the Woodhorn Lane side who as a result of the win climbed up the table into fifth place.
The home side were looking to make an early impact and in the third minute, James Taylor shaved the crossbar after cutting inside following a throw-in and unleashing a sweetly struck left footer from the edge of the area.
Sam Norris instigated Ashington’s next move when he found Glen Taylor down the right flank but when his shot was blocked, Marc Walton lashed the rebound over from 18 yards.
At the other end, central defender Chris Reid had a header blocked after a free kick then Andrew Robertson fired wide of Karl Dryden’s left hand post.
More Whitley hope came minutes later when Ash Davis found Jarrett Rivers whose effort was deflected for a corner.
Then a quick switch saw Andrew Dugdale slip the ball to Andrew Johnson and the skipper charged through the middle then directed a cracking right footed effort which screamed just over the bar.
Fifty five seconds later, Brad Brooking delivered a cross from the right which led to great defending from Craig Scott and Lance McGlen to snuff out the danger ,then a snap shot from Walton was held by Tom Kindley to his right.
However, in the 24th minute, Ashington took the lead when Carson profited from an error by the visiting keeper Tom Kindley.
Kindley’s attempted clearance fell straight at the feet of Carson on the left flank and the youngster kept his cool to advance then chip the ball from 30 yards over the stopper and into the unguarded net.
Kyle Oliver was blocked out after a move involving Johnson and Walton then Whitley’s claims for a handling offence after a Chow header inside the six-yard box were turned down by referee Shane Sugden.
Craig Scott came to Ashington’s rescue five minutes before the break. Craig McFarlane and James Novak linked down the left touchline and when the latter crossed into the middle, Davis’s header was cleared off the line by Scott.
However, seconds before the interval, Ashington forced a corner on the left which led to them doubling their advantage with a goal from ex-Whitley striker Glen Taylor.
Johnson was the craftsman, floating over the flag kick which was met at the far post by Taylor who side footed home.
Even then, in the second minute of time added on, it required a terrific stop from Dryden to keep out a goal bound effort from Robertson.
Five minutes into the second period, Kindley saved with his legs from a shot on the turn by Walton, then Glen Taylor was not far away with an effort from distance.
In the 59th minute, Bay reduced the arrears – via the penalty spot.
Reid charged through the middle and after playing a one-two, burst into the area where he was unceremoniously brought down by Craig Scott.
Referee Sugden immediately pointed for the award, and although Dryden went the right way, Chow’s firmly struck and well placed penalty found the corner of the net.
Chances then evaporated until the closing ten minutes which led to an exciting finale.
A run and shot by Glen Taylor had Kindley scampering across his goal with the ball drifting wide, then Johnson played the ball through to Norris whose effort was pushed away by the keeper diving to his left.
With time running out, Rivers fired just wide, as did Chow seconds from the final whistle.
On Saturday, Ashington are at home to Billingham Town (3pm).
Ashington: Dryden, J Taylor, Oliver, Dugdale (L Scott 57 mins), C Scott, McGlen, Norris, Johnson, Walton, G Taylor, Carson. Sub not used: Barnard.
Whitley Bay: Kindley, Brooking, Novak, Reid, Ryan, McFarlane, Tait, Robertson, Davis (Blake 75 mins), Chow, Rivers. Subs not used: Chambers, Ball, Day, B Smith.
In midweek, Ashington made progress in the Brooks Mileson League Cup after a 3-1 victory over Billingham Synthonia on Teesside.
Andrew Johnson and Glen Taylor rifled home in the tenth and 25th minutes before Michael Sweet reduced the arrears 20 seconds before half-time following an error by keeper Karl Dryden.
Marc Walton’s 78th minute strike, latching onto a pass from Johnson, sealed the win for the Colliers who now have a home tie against Thornaby in the next round.