Ashington’s difficult start to season continues

Ashington's Kyle Downey. Picture by Gavin Perry
Ashington's Kyle Downey. Picture by Gavin Perry

Ashington slumped to their third league defeat of the season on Saturday as they lost at Sunderland RCA.

Lee McAndrew smashed home a terrific goal 12 minutes from time at Meadow Park, but it proved to be too little too late as the Colliers went down 2-1.

By stark contrast, the victory put Sunderland RCA joint top of the Ebac Northern League’s first division table.

When Clayton Davis pulled up in the warm-up, the home outfit made a late alternation to their side with Callum Hassan stepping into the breach, and the replacement should have fired his side into a fourth minute lead.

He latched onto a through ball which put him in the clear but with only keeper Conor Grant to beat, he stabbed a right footer wide.

Fellow striker Stephen Callen frittered away another opportunity on ten minutes after Grant’s clearance from the right touchline fell to him. With an unguarded net, he elected to advance and ended by dragging his shot wide.

On top from the first whistle, RCA continued to dominate and after Hassan had an effort ruled out for offside, James Harmison made a terrific clearance to halt Colin Larkin after a Michael Charlton pull back.

Ashington had made an uncomfortable start, failing to make an impression, and on the half hour they went behind.

Substitute James Armstrong had only been on the field two minutes when he ventured into the area and went to ground under a challenge from Wayne Buchanan.

Referee Scott Williams pointed to the spot and home skipper Larkin made no mistake tucking a low penalty just inside Grant’s right hand post.

The setback provided the necessary wake up call for Steve Harmison’s, side who hit back shortly afterwards. Luke Salmon, Ashington’s best player on a wet afternoon, advanced into the box and when he found McAndrew, the midfielder’s cross was booted away by Ross McNab.

Five minutes later, Kyle Downey’s pass opened up the RCA defence but Andrew Bulford’s clipped effort was blocked by keeper Jordan Harkess, and when the ball broke free, Scott Gunn’s goalbound low drive from the edge of the area was pushed around by the home stopper.

Yet RCA could have doubled their lead in the final minute when a cross from the right by Kevin Gordon just failed to get a connection.

Within the first 25 seconds of the second half, Downey found Salmon on the left but after cutting inside, his cross was blocked.

Then Bulford helped on a clearance from Grant but a left footed volley from Salmon was saved by Harkess.

The Colliers had made a brighter start to the second period but they were almost undone when Hassan, who was proving to be a handful, saw his effort thud against the base of the post.

A snapshot from Downey flashed narrowly wide then Ben Christensen and Bulford combined to set up Salmon who curled a shot wide.

Harmison made another vital interception to stop Hassan but midway through the half, the home side added a second when Hassan crossed for Charlton to slot home with ease.

Ashington’s play had improved after the break and after a whipped cross by substitute Harrison Scott went across the face of goal, the Wansbeck side reduced the arrears in the 78th minute.

McAndrew and Downey worked a short corner on the left with the former curling an unstoppable effort from the edge of the area inside the far post which left Harkess helpless.

With time running out, Ashington had shouts for a penalty turned aside, then Harkess touched over a dipping cross from Scott.

But in the final minute of the 90, Hassan looked all set to make it three until he was denied by a magnificent stop by Grant.

Ashington have a double header at Woodhorn Lane over the weekend. On Saturday, August 27, the Colliers host Guisborough Town at 3pm, then they meet neighbours Morpeth Town on Bank Holiday Monday at 1pm.

Ashington: Grant, Henderson, Christensen, Farrell (Sampson 70), J Harmison, Buchanan, Gunn (Stevens 61), Downey, Salmon (H Scott 70), Bulford, McAndrew. Subs not used: Bell, Dunn.