Ashington pushed all the way by Easington in FA Vase

Midfielder Kyle Downey gave Ashington an early lead at Easington Colliery in the FA Vase. Picture by Ian Appleby - www.ianapplebyimages.com
Midfielder Kyle Downey gave Ashington an early lead at Easington Colliery in the FA Vase. Picture by Ian Appleby - www.ianapplebyimages.com

Ashington advanced into the first round proper of the FA Vase on Saturday courtesy of a winner from Ben Harmison early in the second half.

But the Colliers had to fight all the way against Northern League second division Easington.

They now face a trip to Derbyshire-based Dronfield Town, who play in the first division of the Northern Counties East League.

After being forced into a late change with James Harmison replacing Liam Atkin who had a stomach problem, Steve Harmison’s side made a great start by taking the lead in the eighth minute with a cracking finish from Kyle Downey.

The midfielder unleashed a low left footed drive from 25 yards which screamed past home keeper Kyle Donaldson and into the far corner.

Easington, who on their return to the league are fourth top of the division, responded and Ashington keeper Conor Grant got to the ball just in the nick of time to deny David Laight.

Andrew Johnson set up Kyle Oliver whose curler from 16 yards struck a defender to go for a corner, then the midfielder after receiving from Paul Weldon found Johnson whose effort from the edge of the area was only inches off target.

On the half hour, another strike by Oliver was turned over by the impressive Donaldson before Johnson unleashed a right footer which hit the bar and bounced to safety.

The home keeper distinguished himself again tipping over from Johnson, but after David Paul had volleyed wide, the home side got back on terms four minutes before the interval with a well constructed goal.

The ball was played down to Paul who slipped it across for substitute Joe Kerridge and he side-footed wide of Grant and inside the far post.

What proved to be the all important strike came in the 49th minute. Oliver’s cross found Dylan Williamson on the right and when his initial shot was blocked he got a foot to the rebound to find Ben Harmison 14 yards out. His left footer almost brought a terrific save out of Donaldson but the keeper could not prevent the ball from crossing the line.

With quarter of an hour remaining, Ben Harmison had a great opportunity after winning a heading duel but when the ball fell into his path, his effort was too close to Donaldson who gratefully gathered.

Luke Page drove off target then a free kick from 30 yards by Johnson was tipped over by Donaldson with Ben Harmison heading the resultant corner from Downey wide.

In the final minute, James Harmison made a vital clearance, then when play switched, substitute Joe Race fired into the side-netting.

Ashington: Grant, Christensen, Weldon, Downey, J Harmison, Grieve, Oliver (Gilbey 75), Williams (Blandford 53), Williamson (Race 85), B Harmsion, Johnson. Subs not used: Robson, Thompson.

On Saturday Ashington take on first division pacesetters Shildon at Woodhorn Lane (3pm) then the Colliers are away to Newcastle Benfield on Wednesday, October 14.