Ashington push title challengers Guisborough but concede two late goals
Ashington are still yet to win at Guisborough's King George V Stadium after going down 2-0 on Saturday.
But the long wait for a win may come sooner rather than later after a refreshing performance against the title chasers.
There was no despondency in the visitors’ camp as they gave one of their best performances of the season and had chances to upset the form guide.
The two sides will meet again in the third round of the League Cup on Wednesday, March 2.
There were several turning points in the game as both sides had chances, and arguably the most prominent came on the hour when home midfielder Gary Wood, already on a yellow card, fouled Kyle Downey but with the away contingent expecting the player to see red, he earned a lecture from the referee who also summoned skipper Leon Carling in for the talk.
Guisborough boss Steve Dowling counted his blessings and before play restarted took Wood off, replacing him with Liam McPhillips.
Colliers boss Steve Harmison handed full debuts to Scott Gunn and Andrew Bulford, but skipper Andrew Johnson missed out, suffering from flu.
The Priorymen were first to threaten in the fifth minute when a shot from the impressive Steve Snaith was superbly blocked by James Harmison, then it was Snaith again unleashing an effort from the edge of the box which was comfortably held by keeper Conor Grant.
Ashington responded with Josh Gray and Downey firing off target, then a flowing move involving Gunn, Ben Harmison and Gray ended with Paul Weldon being shut out.
A centre from the left by Curtis Round went across the face of the goal; Snaith was denied by the sprawling Grant then James Harmison made another trademark interception.
Ashington went route one as Ben Harmison flicked on a goal kick by Grant but Bulford dragged wide.
In the opening 20 minutes, the Colliers had had as much of the ball as their Teesside opponents, and when they ventured forward again, Gray’s 25 yarder hit the side-netting.
But there was even more to come from the visitors, who enjoyed a great spell of concerted pressure before the interval.
Michael Dixon helped on a cross by Gunn but James Harmison headed narrowly wide, then Bulford got into a good position only to be thwarted by a great block by Andrew May.
Downey, industrious and lively in midfield, flashed a 20 yarder just wide before Dixon had a shot deflected for a corner.
In the first minute of time added on for stoppages, a free kick by Jonathan Helm found Round who tried to place his shot into the corner but he was again foiled by a third block by Harmison.
And the central defender made a vital volleyed clearance on the hour after a ball launched forward by keeper Nicky Liversedge was poised for Danny Earl down the left flank.
McPhillips was in the action almost immediately when he found Chay Liddle, but the midfielder misfired with his effort and Grant saved with ease.
Bulford was denied by Liversedge then Gunn clipped the ball narrowly wide whilst at the other end, Weldon cleared form the danger zone to thwart Liddle.
However, in the 81st minute Snaith broke the deadlock. He received the ball on the left and curled a screaming right footer from the junction of the penalty area which flew into the net via the far post.
A combination of Dixon and that man Harmison kept Liddle at bay before in the 88th minute, after receiving from the left, Earl’s shot thudded against the angle of the post and crossbar but the rebound fell to the striker who made no mistake.
Ashington: Grant, Christensen, Weldon, Downey, J Harmison, Grieve, Gunn (Scott 87 minutes), Dixon, Bulford, B Harmison, Gray (Hotchkiss 87 minutes). Subs not used: Dunn, Taylor.
On Wednesday, February 10, Ashington go to North Shields for their delayed Techflow Group Northumberland Senior Cup quarter-final then on Saturday, February 13, the Colliers make the short journey to face Bedlington in the Wansbeck derby, kick-off 3pm.