Ashington held after late penalty secures Morpeth a point
Ashington came close to causing an upset but in the end had to settle for a draw after a late penalty from Morpeth's Luke Carr.
Andrew Bulford’s third goal in as many games had put the Colliers ahead on the hour and the home side looked to be heading for their third win of the campaign until they were on the wrong end of a contentious spot kick decision.
But there were other turning points in the bank holiday Monday contest.
At 0-0 Sean Taylor missed a glorious chance for the Highwaymen, then shortly after Bulford had broken the deadlock, Lee McAndrew and Kyle Downey both squandered marvellous opportunities to increase Ashington’s lead.
In a first period which was dominated for long periods by the FA Vase holders, chances were minimal.
Town full back Stephen Forster cut inside in the fourth minute but fired wide, then his dangerous low cross was intercepted by Wayne Buchanan.
James Harmison also made a vital clearance before a 20 yarder from Paul Robinson was held by Ashington keeper Conor Grant.
An effort from Damen Mullen was also repelled by Grant, who saved the follow up from Michael Chilton’ although the assistant had his flag raised for offside.
Forster was exploiting the space down the right flank and on another occasion when he slipped the ball inside for Taylor, the striker skied the ball over.
It was 37 minutes before Ashington really threatened with Bulford glancing a header across to Scott Gunn but his shot was charged down by former Collier Matty Grieve.
Nine minutes into the second half Carr crossed from the left but the incoming Taylor, who looked a certain scorer, saw his effort smack against the base of the post.
Ashington’s reply was to take the lead in the 57th minute through Bulford.
Downey won a tackle midway inside his own half then played a one-two with Gunn before clipping a superb pass through for Bulford, who took the ball wide of advancing keeper Karl Dryden and slotted home left footed.
Two minutes later Mullen almost levelled but drove narrowly wide whilst at the other end a low cross from Downey just eluded James Harmison at the far post.
Downey continued to be heavily involved in the action and he supplied another defence splitting pass which put McAndrew clean through one-on-one with Dryden, but the forward clipped his shot wide of the post.
Midway through the period, midfield schemer Downey produced a terrific run which saw him skip past three challenges only to shoot across the face of the goal from a tight angle.
Then a timely tackle by Buchanan snuffed out the danger to thwart Carr before Morpeth drew level from the spot in the 85th minute.
James Novak crossed into the area where the ball bounced up off McAndrew’s foot and struck him on the hand. The referee awarded a spot kick and Carr kept his cool to send Grant the wrong way.
With time running out, shouts by the visitors for a second penalty were turned down.
Ashington: Grant, Henderson, Christensen, Blandford (Sampson 76), J Harmison, Buchanan, Gunn, Downey, Stevens, Bulford, McAndrew. Subs not used: Salmon, Dunn, Scott, Glasper.
Morpeth Town: Dryden, Forster, Novak, Sayer (Fry 80), Grieve, Reid, Taylor (Anderson 63), Mullen, Carr, Chilton, Robinson (Graydon 63). Subs not used: Fondato, Hall.
Ashington face another double header of home games in four days. On Saturday they host newly promoted Ryhope CW then on Tuesday, September 6, Penrith are the visitors (7.30pm).