North Shields 0, Ashington 1: EBAC Northern League, Division One
Gerard Richardson’s last-gasp winner brought Ashington their first points of the season against North Shields at a wet Daren Persson Stadium last night (Wednesday).
Richardson met a precision left-wing corner from Kyle Downey in the second minute of time added on to send a thumping header wide of keeper Greg Purvis and into the net.
For the Woodhorn Lane outfit, back-to-back defeats in the league against Blyth AFC and Hebburn Town were followed by an FA Cup extra preliminary round exit at the hands of Knaresborough Town and Richardson’s goal sparked off celebrations in the Ashington camp as it brought a much-needed boost.
However, it was a sombre atmosphere in the home dressing room as for the second game in a row – the first being against Consett in the FA Cup on Saturday - the Robins conceded in the dying minutes and consequently lost the contest.
On a night when the majority of the first period was played in driving and torrential rain, Colliers boss Steve Bowey handed debuts to Lewis King – on loan from Spennymoor Town - and Glenn Caygill, while another newcomer Adam Humphries was named among the substitutes. David Edwards made his first appearance of the season, slotting into the heart of the defence alongside Caygill and also taking over the captain’s armband in the absence of the injured Wayne Buchanan while ex-Colliers Gareth Bainbridge and Ben Sampson were named in the starting line up for the Shieldsmen.
The homesters started brightly and, in the eighth minute, Lewis Suddick – who was prominent and caused problems in the opening half – saw his centre go right across the face of goal.
Five minutes later, home skipper Kevin Hughes met a corner by Paul Robinson but headed wide at the far post. On the quarter hour, it was Suddick again with the same venture down the right flank and same type of cross but healso saw the same end-product as Shields searched for the opener. Then Robinson cut inside from the right but saw his effort grasped by keeper Conor Grant.
Ashington finally fashioned an opening – at the midway point of the half - with Zak Atkinson heading over an in-swinging corner on the right from Downey. Damien Stevens fired wide, then, at the other end, Bainbridge was not far away with an angled drive. Ryan Carr’s goalbound shot was deflected past the upright but as the half drew to a conclusion, Stevens unleashed a rasping left-footer towards the near post which Purvis turned around.
Matty Wade was the supplier of a pass which put Stevens through but his effort was claimed at the second attempt by Purvis.
Just before the half time whistle, Suddick drove narrowly wide for a youthful and well-drilled Shields outfit who had played some good football and had without doubt been the better side.
However, it was a different story after the break. Both sides probed - but came up against resolute defending and as a result, chances were few and far between.
In the 67th minute, Bainbridge got to the ball ahead of an Ashington defender to poke wide, then, for the fourth time during the contest, the ball went across the face of the Ashington goal, with Stuart Donnison the provider on this occasion.
David Edwards had been immense in the back four and, with five minutes remaining, he made a superb tackle inside the area to thwart Bainbridge.
When substitute Sam Norris delivered a peach of a cross in the 90th minute, which went begging in front of goal, it looked as if the game was heading for a draw until Richardson
popped up with the winner which sent the away supporters into raptures (0-1).
North Shields: Purvis, Donnison, Summerly (Aplin, 5 minutes), Spooner (C Cunningham, 79 minutes), Hughes, McNamara, Suddick, Sampson, Bainbridge, Carr, Robinson
(Cooper, 42 minutes). Subs not used: Ormston, B Richardson.
Ashington: Grant, King, Armstrong, Wade (Humphries, 56 minutes), Caygill, Edwards, Stevens (Norris, 53 minutes), Downey, Atkinson, Stephenson (Francois, 72 minutes), G Richardson. Subs not used: North, J Cunningham.
Attendance: 306. Referee: Derric Wade
*On Saturday, Ashington are at home to Guisborough Town (3pm).