Ben Harmison hits late equaliser to earn ten-man Ashington a point

Ashington FC's Ben Harmison. Picture by Gary Welford
Ashington FC's Ben Harmison. Picture by Gary Welford

A late goal by Ben Harmison rescued a point for ten-man Ashington from their opening game in the Ebac Northern League’s first division at a rain sodden Moore Lane Park on Tuesday night.

Harmison, who had scored the winner in the FA Cup game against Sunderland Ryhope CW on Saturday, blasted home the equaliser only three minutes after newcomer Lewis Strafford had been sent off for a second yellow card offence.

Many of the Ashington squad were delayed en route on the A1 and hastily had to do the warm-up, yet they carved out an opportunity inside the opening 60 seconds.

A free kick from distance by Kyle Downey was spilled by home keeper James Winter who gobbled the ball up at the second attempt.

Howeve,r the home side came into the game strongly and took the lead in the tenth minute after a well worked corner on the right involving Stuart Banks and Craig Hutchinson.

Banks played the ball low to the near post and when Hutchinson knocked it back, Banks crossed where Colliers keeper Conor Grant made an outstanding save from a header but Kurt Matthews was on hand to force the ball in.

The Wansbeck side were caught out in the 18th minute as they looked to play offside. Hutchinson was clean through but saw his effort blocked by the sprawling Grant.

Downey had a shot deflected for a corner before Strafford picked up a booking for pushing.

Ten minutes before the break, Hutchinson produced some great work down the right but when he centred, Craig Hindmarch tried a spectacular volley and Grant was grateful to collect the ball from under the bar.

Minutes later, Downey broke from a home corner on the left and produced a stunning run from inside his own half where he skipped past three challenges before his low left footed drive was tipped around by Winter.

After the interval, both keepers were tested. Grant saved with his legs to deny Matthews then Winter pushed aside a drive from Callum Johnston.

Substitute Tony Stephenson had a shot on the turn held by Winter then within a minute of his introduction, Aycliffe sub Alan Harrison was clean through but was foiled by Grant.

The visiting stopper made crucial saves from Hindmarch and Banks before Strafford gave the referee no option other than to show him a second yellow card followed by a red after a late challenge.

However, despite being reduced in number, Ashington rallied and equalised in the 85th minute.

They forced a corner on the right and when sub Paul Antony swung it over, Harmison’s powerful header was blocked but he made no mistake from the rebound, lashing in left footed.

On Saturday, Ashington are at home to Team Northumbria, kick-off 3pm.

Ashington: Grant, Christensen (Pearson 70), Hornsby, Strafford, J Harmison, Scott, Sampson, Downey (Antony 57), Johnson, B Harmison, McAndrew (Stephenson 57). Subs not used: Salmon, Buchanan.

Attendance: 51.