Second half goals from Ben Harmison and skipper Andrew Johnson sealed a 2-0 victory for Ashington over Heaton Stannington in the second round of the Cameron’s Brewery Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup on Tuesday night.
Following a day of patchy and at times thick fog all around the North East, conditions were perfect for this tie and an enjoyable match was witnessed by a healthy crowd of 173.
The Colliers controlled proceedings from the off – but the visitors – fourth top of the Ebac Northern League’s second division – proved to be both stubborn opponents particularly during the first half while also carrying a threat on the counter.
In the seventh minute, an error by Heaton ‘keeper Shaun Backhouse presented a clear chance for Harmison but after skipping past a retrieving defender, the Ashington forward saw his effort blocked by the stopper.
Play switched immediately to the other end and Christian Carrasquillo somehow missed the target, placing the ball wide of the post with a gaping open goal at his mercy.
Heaton included Peter Scott – brother of ex Ashington lynchpin Craig - in their back four and he made a vital interception to divert a cross by Johnson for a corner.
Midway through, Gareth Williams – handed a full back role – released a great ball into the inside right channel for Johnson who cut inside but his cross was closed down.
Seconds later, the ball found Williams who tried his luck with a right footer from fully 30 yards which was clawed down by Backhouse.
On the half hour, another run down the flank by Carrasquillo saw his cross onto the 18 yards line met by Mark Waite but he blasted well over the bar.
Home ‘keeper Ben Dudzinski then pushed around from Jonathan Wright before in first half stoppage time after a run down the wing by Johnson, Ben Harmison was denied at the near post by a block tackle.
The visitors were quickly out of the blocks at the start of the second period. After only 48 seconds, Wright lined up a opportunity but was thwarted by a timely intervention by Matty Grieve then Dudzinski pushed away a drive from Wright.
On 50 minutes, Kyle Oliver crossed from the left but Jonathyn Quinn miskicked in front of goal.
However, five minutes later, Ashington broke the deadlock – through Ben Harmison. Williams and Johnson initially combined down the right with the latter swinging over a great cross which was knocked ball into the middle by Kyle Oliver.
Quinn back flicked for Harmison who netted from close range.
Plucky Heaton continued to look for an equaliser and after Dudzinski had been forced to tip over from Lee Johnson, Wright produced good work on the left flank and whipped over a low centre which flashed across the face of the home goalmouth.
With five minutes remaining, Carrasquillo chipped wide then Johnson laid a pass off for Oliver whose effort was blocked.
The ball ran invitingly to Kyle Downey whose blockbuster from 30 yards was goalbound until it was blocked by Backhouse.
But in the final minute of the 90, Johnson timed his run to perfection to beat the offside trap and latch onto a precision through ball from substitute Craig Webb.
The home skipper advanced then pulled the trigger, firing low into the net from the edge of the area past Backhouse.
Ashington: Dudzinski, Williams, Oliver, Hotchkiss, Grieve, Atkin, Downey, Dunn (Webb 75 minutes), Quinn (Angus 85 minutes), B Harmison, Johnson. Subs not used: Dixon, Hall (gk).
Referee: Graeme Hopper