Ashington suffer heaviest home defeat in seven seasons

Paul Brayson.
Paul Brayson.

A superb performance by Newcastle Benfield culminated in a 5-1 victory and sent Ashington tumbling to their heaviest home defeat for seven seasons.

On a windswept night at Woodhorn Lane, Ben Sampson quickly cancelled out an opener by Dylan McEvoy only for Benfield player-manager Paul Brayson and McEvoy again to strike before the break to make it 3-1.

Two goals inside a five-minute spell from Brayson and Matthew Cornish widened the margin even further.

But in an extraordinary game, visiting keeper Andrew Grainger saved second half penalties to deny both Kyle Downey and Ben Harmison.

The visitors had the better of the early exchanges enjoying a lot of possession, but it was the hosts who were first to threaten.

In the third minute, a searching diagonal ball from left to right by skipper Ben Christensen opened up the Benfield defence but Lee McAndrew lobbed wide from 16 yards.

Rhu Williamson and Moussa Bakhti linked to set up a chance for McEvoy who shot wide, and the visitors edged closer to the target when the same player’s effort was tipped away to his left by home keeper Conor Grant.

Ashington failed to heed the warning signs from McEvoy and in the 25th minute the striker duly broke the deadlock with a low swerving shot from 30 yards which sent Grant the wrong way.

Five minutes later the Colliers were back on terms through Sampson.

Following a build-up down the left, the youngster latched onto a cross and from 25 yards tucked a low right footer wide of Grainger and just inside the post.

Within three minutes the visitors moved into a 2-1 lead. Strong shouts from home supporters and players that the ball had crossed the line for a throw-in were rejected and after Benfield had forced a corner on the right, Stephen Tobin glanced on Cornish’s delivery for Brayson who turned and fired in from close range.

David Dormand, handed his full debut, headed narrowly over from a McAndrew flag kick before Ashington suffered a body blow right on half-time as Benfield added a third.

McEvoy was again allowed far too much time and space to line up a left footer from all of 20 yards which left Grant rooted to the spot.

Thirty seconds into the second half, Sampson fed McAndrew and when he crossed Ben Harmison directed a header wide of the target.

In the 54th minute Benfield made it 4-1 when Brayson met a cross from the left and netted at the far post with a stooping header from six yards.

Then on the hour and following a ball knocked in from the right by Mark Turnbull, Williamson’s thunderbolt thudded against the bar but fell into the path of Cornish who headed the rebound into an empty net for the fifth.

Three minutes later referee Shane Sugden pointed to the spot when Shaun Bell was upended by Thomas McNamee, but Grainger made an excellent save diving to his left to deny Downey.

In the final ten minutes, subs Luke Salmon and Paul Antony combined to set up Sampson whose volley from 22 yards drifted just wide, then Benfield sub Mechack Kanda found Cornish, who was thwarted by Grant.

Still the action continued and with time running out, McAndrew ran onto a pass from Sampson to pull the ball back but Bulford’s volley was straight into Grainger’s midriff.

Then two minutes into time added on a drive from McAndrew was handled by Turnbull, but once again Grainger, on this occasion diving to his right, kept out the resultant penalty from Ben Harmison.

On Saturday, Ashington are at home to West Allotment Celtic (3pm).

Ashington: Grant, Henderson, Christensen (Salmon 64), S Bell, J Harmison, Buchanan, Sampson, Downey (Antony 64), Dormand (Bulford 64), B Harmison, McAndrew. Subs not used: Scott, Gunn.

Attendance: 183.