Ashington suffer a fifth successive defeat

Ashington striker Ben Harmison. Picture by Ian Appleby
Ashington striker Ben Harmison. Picture by Ian Appleby

Ashington’s run without a win continued when they went down by the odd goal in three at West Auckland on Saturday.

Over the years, the Seagraves Stadium has never been a favourite or happy hunting ground for the Colliers, and the pattern continued as a side currently in freefall suffered their fifth defeat in a row.

Yet after a highly encouraging opening half which they dominated and were boosted by Ben Harmison’s goal shortly before the interval, it appeared that the tide was turning on several fronts.

But two goals by striker Adam Burnicle inside a quarter of an hour during the latter stages of the second period swung the destination of points in the home side’s favour.

Ashington manager Steve Harmison handed a debut on the right hand side of midfield to latest signing Damien Stevens and Kyle Oliver returned after suspension whilst James Harmison, who had missed the league game against Shildon , was on the bench.

And it was Stevens who was involved right from the start as he almost set up a goal for his new side in the third minute.

He latched onto a great ball played down the line by Oliver and found Andrew Bulford, whose right foot shot was touched wide of the post by keeper David Knight.

The Colliers continued to be in the ascendancy and produced a scintillating attack on the quarter hour.

Andrew Johnson, Ben Harmison and Josh Gray were involved before the move was blocked, then from an Oliver cross, Johnson directed a header over the bar.

Knight held a 20 yarder from Oliver before West’s first threat came from a counter attack in the 20th minute. The ball was played through to Chris Emms but he fired across keeper Conor Grant and wide of the upright.

Bulford set up Johnson whose weak effort was easily held by Knight, but the keeper was left helpless in the 25th minute and indebted to the woodwork when Matty Grieve met a Johnson in-swinging corner from the left and his header at the back post came back off the bar.

West were struggling to get out of their own half, but in a rare raid, Burnicle sprung the offside trap and it took a fine save from Grant to deny him.

However, in the 38th minute Ben Harmison broke the deadlock with his tenth goal of the campaign.

Gray and Johnson exchanged a one-two down the left and when the latter crossed the striker nodded the ball wide of Knight and inside the far post.

The opening quarter of the second period produced no clear cut opportunities then in the space of two minutes, Bulford, set up by Johnson, sliced wide, then following a corner by Kyle Downey, a 25 yarder by Oliver was tipped over by Knight.

But the game turned in an instant. In the 70th, Johnson picked up possession in midfield, advanced and his effort flashed narrowly over, and 40 seconds later the home side drew level.

The ball was passed through to Burnicle who drove a right foot screamer wide of Grant and inside the far post.

Knight palmed a shot from Stevens against the post then ten minutes from time, Grant denied Burnicle when he was through.

But four minutes later the ball was again crossed into the penalty area from the right where Burnicle flicked it wide of Grant for the winner.

Ashington: Grant, Oliver (J Harmison 87), Gray, Downey (Scott 87), Christensen, Grieve, Stevens, Dixon, Bulford, B Harmison, Johnson. Subs not used: Dunn, Bains, Weldon.

On Saturday, February 27, Ashington are away to Bedlington in the Wansbeck derby then the Colliers travel to face Guisborough in the League Cup on Wednesday, March 2, where kick-off is 7.45pm.