Ashington in seventh heaven

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Thornaby 0 Ashington 7

Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup, Second Round

Ashington eased into the next round of the Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup on Tuesday night after a 7-0 victory over Ebac Northern League Second Division side Thornaby at Teesdale Park.

However, the Colliers did not have things all their own way as the scoreline suggests, with the hosts giving a very good account of themselves particularly in the first period with Jason Honeyman and Richard Walker prominent.

Indeed, the pair featured in the first minute after a ball down the flank by Clayton McDonald had found Honeyman. He crossed into the box but Walker’s effort struck his own player and the danger was averted.

Ashington’s first opportunity came in the tenth minute. A long searching ball from the back by Richard Flynn picked out Andrew Johnson on the left wing and when he played it into the danger zone, Stephen Morrison was forced to boot away from inside the six-yard box.

Ben Christensen performed an identical clearance after Matthew McQueeney had headed a corner goalwards then Johnson and Tony Stephenson linked to set up Phil Airey – who was making his full debut – but the striker’s effort was easily gathered by home stopper Michael Duff.

The Colliers were forced to dig deep in their defensive duties to block a series of shots from the home raiders before, on the half hour, the best opening of the match fell to Airey but he lifted his shot over as Duff advanced.

Two goals inside three minutes from Tony Stephenson close to the interval not only gave Gary Middleton’s men the perfect boost but also put them in command.

The first, with 40 minutes gone, saw Kyle Oliver the provider of a through pass which released Glen Taylor. The forward unleashed a right-footed drive which was blocked by Duff but the rebound fell to Stephenson who calmly side-footed into the far corner.

Within 60 seconds, an effort by Walker had visitors keeper Conor Grant scampering across his goal before the ball flashed just wide.

Then Stephenson grabbed his second. Johnson found space down the wing and when he crossed into the area, Stephenson deliberately delayed his shot then fired into the net

Two quick-fire goals in the first five minutes of the second period put Ashington into a handsome 4-0 lead.

On 47 minutes, a through pass from Andy Ferrell saw a home defender sell a short back pass and Glen Taylor seized on the opportunity to advance then slot home wide of Duff.

The next could be branded a piece of sheer luck but on the other hand was just reward for the hardworking Oliver. Craig Winter played the ball back to Duff who closed down by Oliver, saw his attempted clearance cannon off the midfielder’s heel, balloon over the top of him and drop inside the goal.

Gallant Thornaby still refused to give in and minutes later, a free kick from fully 30 yards by Kieron Edwards smacked against the post and when the ball was played into the area from the rebound, Walker headed wide. Grant was called on to deny Morrison and McQueeney before the Colliers went nap with a delightful goal by Oliver.

Johnson, who had tormented his marker all night, again ventured down the flank and when he pulled the ball back diagonally, Oliver opened his foot before placing a side-footed right foot shot inside the far corner.

Glen Taylor chipped wide but then instigated Ashington’s sixth in the 80th minute. He won a free kick just outside the box and when he played it quickly to the unmarked Johnson. The skipper slotted wide of Duff from a tight angle.

In the final minute, the same pair combined again with Taylor again the provider for Johnson who drove inside the far upright.

So a great result for the Colliers on the night with James Taylor magnificent in the centre of defence but the management will also have been pleased with the contributions from all three teenage substitutes, Kieran Egen, Ben Middleton and Lewis Robson, the latter who was making his debut.

Ashington: Grant, McGlen, Christensen, Ferrell, Flynn, J Taylor, Airey (Robson 73 minutes), Oliver (B Middleton 77 minutes), Stephenson (Egen 62 minutes), G Taylor, Johnson.

Referee: Paul Newhouse (Cumbria)