Ashington’s disastrous start to the new season continued at Consett on Tuesday evening with a heavy defeat.
Dumped out of FA Cup four days earlier by Lancashire-based Nelson, the Colliers were hit by a barnstorming opening from the Steelmen amid a night of controversy at the Belle View Stadium and ended on the wrong end of a 7-0 thumping.
The Wansbeck side played out the final 37 minutes with only nine men after having goalkeeper Conor Grant and striker Ben Harmison red carded in separate incidents.
The home side were also reduced in number when Lewis Teasdale was sent for an early shower.
The game was only two minutes old when Ashington lost possession and when the ball was played through to Luke Sullivan, the pacy forward advanced before he was unceremoniously upended by Grant just outside the area.
There was a delay whilst physio Jay Robertson administered treatment to the stopper, but when he got back on his feet, he was promptly sent off by Newton Aycliffe-based referee Mike Andrews for denying a clear goal scoring opportunity.
Ironically Grant had only returned to the side after serving a one match suspension for an indiscretion towards the end of last season.
Adam Laidler was withdrawn with Luc Glasper coming on from the bench, and the first thing he had to do was pick the ball out of the net as home skipper Danny Craggs netted direct from the resultant free kick.
Dan Hawkins added the second in the sixth minute with a left foot curler from the right touchline which sailed over Glasper’s head.
Then in the tenth minute, Michael Sweet released Sullivan who lashed home the third from the edge of the box.
Sweet got in on the act himself, rifling a hat-trick inside 12 minutes either side of the interval.
In the 35th minute he added the finishing touch to a superb cross from the right by Jake Stafford and three minutes later made it five. Glasper did well to parry his initial shot but when Teasdale’s follow up struck the base of the post, the ball ran to Sweet who powered home.
Seventy seconds into the second half, a chipped effort from Scott Gunn was held by home keeper Shaun Macdonald, but when Consett broke, Sweet got on the end of a cross from the left by Clark Kay and steered a header inside the far post from six yards.
James Harmison replaced Ryan Bell then the game turned sour after a flare up. The referee and his two assistants were locked in deep conversation for several minutes on the half way line before the referee sent off Ashington’s Ben Harmison and Consett’s Teasdale, and also showed a yellow card to James Harmison.
Sullivan was booked for a challenge before in the 63rd minute, Sweet squared the ball across for Craggs to tap in Consett’s seventh.
The final 20 minutes bordered on being farcical as it turned into nothing more than a training exercise.
Having used all three substitutes, Sweet hobbled off for Consett leaving both sides down to nine men whilst Matthew Slocombe stayed on the field despite carrying an injury.
The home side had the distinction of keeping the ball for more than six minutes whilst for the Colliers, the final whistle could not come quick enough on a night to forget in North West Durham.
The defeat also brought back unwanted memories for Ashington supporters when Consett inflicted the same score on the Colliers on the opening day of the 2007-08 season.
Ashington: Grant, Henderson, Salmon, Blandford, Buchanan, Bell (J Harmison 50), Laidler (Glasper 3), Gunn, Stevens (Bulford 60), B Harmison, McAndrew. Subs not used: Downey, Dunn.