WHATEVER words Ashington CFC manager Gary Middleton and his assistant Neil Winskill delivered to their squad following the mundane 1-1 draw with Jarrow Roofing only a fortnight earlier has certainly had a telling effect.
It is hard to believe the dramatic transformation in Middleton’s side in such a short space of time.
The benefits have been instantly rewarded with the Colliers climbing to fifth in the STL Northern League first division with the 2-0 victory over Shildon at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.
For umpteen years the Railwaymen have been a bogey side to Ashington – but this term the Colliers have completed a league double as well as knocking them out of the FA Cup on penalties after a replay.
But the pleasing aspect for Middleton and his team is the fact that the success over the Dean Street outfit has been thoroughly deserved.
In truth, the Colliers ought to have been ahead by the interval of this contest with Gareth Bainbridge missing out on two marvellous opportunities.
Consequently, Ashington had to be patient with second half goals from Tommy English and substitute Jonny Godsmark enough to derail the visitors.
Yet right from the off it could have been a different beginning with home stopper Karl Dryden called into action at the double after only 70 seconds.
Sam Garvie – on his return to Shildon after putting pen to paper in a transfer from Spennymoor Town – latched on to a through ball and after cutting inside Paul Buzzeo, unleashed a shot which was blocked by Dryden who also foiled Josh Home-Jackson from the rebound.
Almost immediately, the first of Bainbridge’s chances arrived.
The striker got possession and weaved inside only to direct his effort from 18 yards off target.
Marc Walton tried an ambitious shot on the turn from 25 yards which was easily held by keeper Keith Finch before on the quarter hour the lively Garvie was halted inside the box by a great challenge from Buzzeo.
A promising diagonal run across the box by Andrew Johnson eventually saw his shot blocked, then in the 27th minute, Mark O’Dea slotted the ball through for Bainbridge who was clean through but fired straight at Finch.
The first period had seen little to separate the sides but shortly before half-time a ball into the danger zone by Johnson saw David Gordon head over his own crossbar at the same time as Finch came out to collect.
Ashington could not have made a better start after the break as they took the lead inside two minutes from the trusty left foot of English, who as a result notched his first goal for the club.
Walton and Johnson combined in the build up with the latter playing the ball to English who unleashed an unstoppable effort on the half volley from 20 yards which left Finch helpless and rocketed into the net after clipping the underside of the crossbar.
Ten minutes later Darren Lough joined the attack and set up Bainbridge who had made a darting run but as Finch came out to narrow the angle, Bainbridge lofted the ball over.
The inspirational English then slipped the ball through for the overlapping Lough who lashed over the angle before in the 78th minute, Godsmark’s excellent finish effectively sealed the result.
The ex-Newcastle United player – gently easing himself back into the fold following a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury – had replaced Bainbridge on the hour, and after O’Dea had won a header, Johnson slipped a slide rule pass through for Godsmark who applied a cool and clinical right foot finish, lobbing the ball over Finch and into the middle of the goal.
In the closing stages, Walton hit the side netting after connecting with a cross by Johnson then Godsmark fed O’Dea but he was blocked out in the nick of time.
Ashington: Dryden, Buzzeo, Lough, Dugdale (Grieve 90 mins), Atkin, Scott, Johnson, O’Dea, Walton (Young 80 mins), Bainbridge (Godsmark 58 mins), English. Sub not used: Rees.
On Saturday the Colliers are away to Consett then entertain Sunderland RCA on Tuesday, March 27 (7.30pm).
Before that, on Friday evening, Ashington stage a comedy night at their Woodhorn Lane base featuring top comedians Anvil Springstein, Steffen Peddie, Dave Greener, Graham Oakes and Andy Clarke.
Tickets priced at £5 are available from the club or alternatively by paying on the door on the night. Doors open at 7pm.
On Tuesday, March 13, Ashington had a comfortable 3-0 victory over Billingham Town at Woodhorn Lane.
On target were Marc Walton, Andrew Johnson and Mark O’Dea.