Ashington win seven-goal thriller against ten-man Whitley Bay

Ashington striker Dylan Williamson. Picture by Ian Appleby -
Ashington striker Dylan Williamson. Picture by Ian Appleby -

Ashington edged a seven-goal thriller against neighbours Whitley Bay at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday night in a game played in a near gale force wind.

The contest at Hillheads in October had produced a tight match won by the Colliers 2-1 thanks to a late goal from skipper Andrew Johnson.

But the latest instalment contained just about everything including a plethora of yellow cards, a sending off, a penalty as well as high drama and controversy as the Seahorses stormed back after trailing 4-0 at the interval.

Before a ball had been kicked in anger, it was widely regarded that the wind would have the final say – and that it would be the proverbial game of two halves.

The pre-assessment could not have been more accurate and the showdown had supporters from both sides chewing their fingernails in a grandstand finale before referee David Fitzpatrick blew for full-time.

The Colliers, with the advantage on their backs, moved into a three-goal advantage by the midway point of the first half.

They went ahead in the ninth minute when Bay keeper Andrew Jennison spilled a 25 yarder from Kyle Downey and Dylan Williamson gobbled up the rebound to slot in from six yards.

Whitley’s first threat came in the 12th minute with a run down the right flank by ex-Collier Sam Norris, but Ben Christensen moved across to intervene and clear.

On the quarter hour, Ashington doubled their lead with Michael Dixon notching his first goal in a black and white shirt.

Ollie Hotchkiss’ free-kick was glanced on and the ball fell into the path of Dixon who drove a low left footer wide of Jennison and into the back of the net from 15 yards.

However, within a minute Dixon was in the thick of the action at the other end.

Norris delivered a free kick into the danger zone where Dixon sliced the ball narrowly wide of his own goal but also collided with Grant which resulted in the schemer leaving the field with a cut lip.

Another long range effort from Downey was repelled by Jennison then a move involving Chris McDonald, Callum Anderson and Norris ended when the latter’s cross was cleared by Kyle Oliver.

It proved to be a vital interception as 55 seconds later Williamson increased the lead to 3-0.

Johnson headed the ball on for Williamson whose shot from 14 yards saw Jennison get a hand to it but he could not keep it out.

Adam Shanks saw a promising situation where he was clear come to nothing as Paul Weldon got across to block before goal number four arrived in the 36th minute with Williamson completing his hat-trick.

Johnson played the ball through and Williamson brushed Laws aside then stabbed wide of Jennison.

McDonald pumped forward a free kick which was glanced on by Richard Flynn to Laws but Grant made a vital save.

Sixty seconds later a cross shot from Norris thudded against the post and bounced straight into Grant’s arms, then Ben Harmison fired wide.

Early in the second half it was Harmison who slipped the ball through for Williamson only for the striker to take a heavy touch with a grateful Jennison intervening before Whitley’s stirring fight back began in the 56th minute.

The ball was played through from the left where Chris Youldon side footed wide of the advancing Grant.

Bay pushed Laws up front but after Shanks had hit the side netting, they went down to ten men midway through the period when Richard Flynn saw red for a second yellow in an incident which also saw Ben Harmison cautioned.

With quarter of an hour remaining, a blistering cross shot from the right by Norris left Grant helpless as it rocketed inside the upright to make it 4-2.

Still Bay mounted concerted pressure and they thought they had added a third in the 80th minute when Laws met a McDonald free kick to plant a header which was saved then dropped by Grant who gathered. The visitors claimed the ball had crossed the line but no goal was given.

However, the drama continued to unfold and three minutes later substitute Jack Foalle was upended in the area by Christensen. Grant made a brilliant save from the resultant penalty by Youldon but as the ball spun and trickled towards the line, the forward had the simple task of tapping home.

As the atmosphere reached fever pitch, a left footer from 35 yards by McDonald was parried then claimed by Grant, but the home side held on with the victory bringing to an end a run of three successive defeats.

Ashington: Grant, Oliver, Weldon, Dixon, J Harmison, Christensen, Hotchkiss, Downey (Dunn 86), Williamson (Gunn 76), B Harmison, Johnson. Subs not used: J Taylor, Scott, Hall.

Whitley Bay: Jennison, Day, McDonald, Anderson (Blake 87), Laws, Flynn, Norris, Gibson, Shanks (Foalle 71), Youldon, Williamson (Atkinson 55). Subs not used: Hughes, Gladstone.

Attendance: 202.

On Saturday Ashington travel to play Durham City at Consett’s Belle Vue Stadium, kick-off 3pm.