Ashington lacking vital spark in draw

Ashington CFC's Gareth Bainbridge.
Ashington CFC's Gareth Bainbridge.

A WEEK after securing a routine victory over basement club Stokesley, Ashington gave a display which was nothing more than ‘going through the motions’ as they shared a score draw with strugglers Jarrow Roofing on Saturday.

The Colliers have 14 games remaining and a top six placing is still within their sights, but performances like the one witnessed at Boldon Sports Ground will only make for a laborious and dreary ending to the campaign.

If there was a match lacking in spark this was it.

Mundane and uninspiring – a big yawn – the only highlight as far as Ashington were concerned was Gareth Bainbridge’s equaliser which arrived shortly before half-time.

Visiting supporters were always hoping that the Wansbeck outfit – looking to record a double after admonishing a 5-1 drubbing earlier in the season against a side languishing in the drop zone – would up the ante, especially after the break.

But in truth, even if the second period matched the second in terms of excitement, Gary Middleton’s side paid the price for missed chances, in particularl Bainbridge’s opportunity late on.

A minute’s silence to remember the late Pc David Rathband, a former assistant referee in the STL Northern League, preceded the kick-off.

When the game started it was the hosts who looked dangerous as Calvin McMahon got on the end of a cross by Darren Reay but saw his goalbound shot blocked.

At the other end, a ball into the area by James Taylor found Phill Bell who pulled away from keeper Jonathan Carmichael but saw Tommy English fire off target.

Minutes later, Bell himself was thwarted after receiving from Andrew Dugdale, then a direct free kick by Andrew Johnson from 22 yards went close.

However, Jarrow took the lead midway through the half with a goal which came against the run of play.

Kristopher Hughes wriggled through the inside left channel and unleashed a drive which was pushed away for a corner by Karl Dryden.

However from the flag kick, slack marking allowed Tony Thirkell a free header which was only parried by Dryden and from the rebound Reay forced the ball home.

Within a couple of minutes, Marc Walton was unfortunate to see his shot on the turn smack against the bar before Matty Grieve had a header cleared off the line.

In the 35th minute, striker Bell was forced to retire with a dead leg – but the change proved to be significant as shortly afterwards Bainbridge, his replacement, levelled matters.

A move involving Taylor, Walton and Johnson ended with the ball being threaded through to Bainbridge who gave Carmichael no chance with a firmly struck right footed effort from 14 yards.

Dryden then breathed a sigh of relief when he sliced an attempted clearance with Craig Nelson picking up possession before firing into the side netting.

Early in the second period, Walton – on two occasions – and English went close, but in the 65th minute on the counter, it took a great tackle in the nick of time and inside the area by Johnson to stop a threat posed by McMahon, then Hughes blazed wide.

In the final quarter hour, Ashington had opportunities.

Following a corner by English on the right, Craig Scott glanced over before Bainbridge slotted the ball through for Walton but Carmichael reached it first to clear.

Then in the third minute of time added on, Walton helped on a corner on the right by English only for the well positioned Bainbridge, pictured, to direct a header over the bar

Ashington: Dryden, Taylor (Buzzeo 85 mins), Scott, Dugdale, Atkin, Grieve, Johnson, Tait, Walton, Bell (Bainbridge 35 mins), English. Subs not used: Rees, O’Dea, Lough.

On Saturday Ashington travel to face South Shields then face Billingham Town at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday, March 13.