Ashington striker Marc Walton celebrated his return to action with the second goal in a 2-0 win over Durham City at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday night.
His strike shortly after the hour gave the Colliers breathing space and effectively put the seal on a comfortable victory.
Conditions proved to be extremely difficult and testing throughout the 90 minutes with a strong westerly wind blowing down the ground.
And just prior to kick-off driving rain caused further problems for the players and officials.
The Colliers, however, adapted to the elements better, particularly with the wind at their backs in the second period to see off a challenge from the Citizens, who only recently enjoyed wins over Shildon, North Shields and Bishop Auckland.
Chances were few and far between in the opening half, but a good Ashington move in the ninth minute involving Walton, Kyle Downey and Glen Taylor ended when the latter’s low cross was intercepted by Ross Wilkinson.
Home keeper Conor Grant was then called into the action to grasp a header from Callum Patton following a right wing cross before on the quarter hour a centre by Phil Airey saw Walton’s shot blocked and Steven Shaw fire the rebound wide.
Nicky Allen headed wide for Durham, but the Colliers continued to impress and after a shot by Downey had been deflected for a corner, Arjun Purewal charged down a shot from Andrew Johnson.
And it was Johnson who came close to giving his side the lead ten minutes from the break.
Walton and Ben Christensen combined down the left and when the full back supplied a teasing cross, the Ashington skipper, arriving at pace, just failed to connect with a diving header.
The Wansbeck side called the shots in the second period, upping the tempo and dictating the play.
And after an in-swinging corner from the right by Downey had clipped the top of the bar, they took the lead in the 54th minute with a goal of outstanding quality from Andy Ferrell.
The midfielder got possession and curled a low effort into the net from 20 yards.
Grant came out just in the nick of time to foil Patton, but in the 63rd minute Walton – sidelined for the past six weeks with a groin strain – doubled his side’s lead.
He latched onto a through ball by Ferrell and unleashed a drive from the edge of the box which gave keeper Jordan Harkess no chance.
Ashington went in search of a third and played some slick football into the bargain.
When Christensen found Glen Taylor down the left, he pulled the ball back for Johnson whose header landed on the roof of the net.
Taylor drove wide but midway through the half Grant came to the rescue after Patton had squared the ball for Johnny Davis.
In the 72nd minute, Brad McClelland, became Ashington’s 19th debutant this season when he replaced Walton, and the newcomer must have thought he had made a dream start to his career at Woodhorn Lane.
Steven Shaw played the ball into the path of Christensen and when he crossed, McClelland’s right foot effort was goalbound until Harkess saved with his foot to deny him.
Maximum credit to the playing staff from both sides who braved appalling conditions yet conjured up an entertaining contest for the spectators.
Ashington: Grant, Airey, Christensen, Ferrell, McGlen, J Taylor (Davison 88), Downey, Shaw, Walton (McClelland 72), G Taylor (Stephenson 80), Johnson. Subs not used: Egen, Barnard.