ASHINGTON were unable to prevent a second consecutive defeat inside four days when they went down by the odd goal in three against STL Northern League leaders West Auckland on Tuesday night.
Following Saturday’s abysmal display when they were knocked out of the FA Carlsberg Vase by Shortwood United, the Colliers showed a massive improvement and although they trailed by a single goal at the interval, should have been comfortably three or four goals up.
The fact that they were applauded off at half-time – and full-time - by a large following of supporters, endorses how well Gary Middleton’s side responded after their disappointment in Gloucester at the weekend.
With Tommy English in outstanding form, the Wansbeck side should have gone in front when the midfielder found Marc Walton who lobbed just over.
That was on the quarter hour and only three minutes later, West – who reached the quarter-finals of the Vase on Saturday by knocking out the winners from the past three seasons, Whitley Bay – edged in front.
Ashington had been undone by two free kicks at Shortwood, and it was yet another restart which proved to be their downfall.
They conceded a foul 20 yards out and John Campbell’s low and direct effort found the corner of the net.
If that was harsh on a Colliers side, just how the home side went in at the interval ahead was beyond comprehension, with missed chances proving to be costly.
Phill Bell squandered two opportunities, denied by a deflection with his first effort, then Walton lifted a right footer from 20 yards narrowly over in the second minute of time added on at the end of the first half.
Two minutes into the second period, Campbell proved to be a nemesis once again as he struck a second for Peter Dixon’s side in devastating fashion.
Adam Nicholls drove through the middle before laying the ball off to Campbell on the left and he cut inside before firing a right foot effort across keeper Karl Dryden and into the corner of the net.
But Ashington refused to give up, with Bell dragging a shot across the face of goal before the striker was barged to the ground by Matthew Coad in the 63rd minute with referee Mick McDonough pointing to the spot.
Bell duly converted, sending keeper Mark Bell the wrong way.
Mattie Moffat, a thorn in Ashington’s side over the years, then pulled an effort wide for the home side.
But undeterred, the Colliers kept the pressure on with Craig Scott driving over, Bell poking the ball goalwards only for substitute Ross Preston to clear off the line, then sub Gareth Bainbridge and Walton both firing inches off target.
After Saturday’s exit, the management team of Middleton, Neil Winskill and Richie Bond were looking for a response and a performance from the players. They got both in abundance – the only damper being the final result.
Ashington: Dryden, Taylor, Scott, O’Dea, Atkin, Grieve, Johnson, Tait, Walton, Bell, English (Bainbridge 84 mins). Subs not used: Rees, Dugdale, Mullen, Buzzeo.