VICTORY at one of their happy hunting grounds over past years finished off a good week for Ashington CFC.
Following their FA Cup win the previous weekend and then a first league win of the season in midweek with a 2-0 scoreline over Guisborough courtesy of two Gareth Bainbridge goals, the Colliers got their just rewards against Billingham Town on Saturday, sealing their fourth win to accompany two draws in eight visits to Bedford Terrace.
Leading 3-1 early in the second period after going a goal down in the opening stages, the Wansbeck outfit ought to have put the game out of sight – but the visitors made their supporters sweat after Town substitute Stephen Flockett scored in the second of four minutes of time added on.
As it was, Billingham never got a sniff of another opportunity and Ashington deservedly took all three points.
They had been the better side albeit against a home team who not only kept going throughout but who also took the lead in the fifth minute.
Marcus Laing had the easy job of firing into an unguarded net from close range after Ashington keeper Karl Dryden had failed to hold onto a cross after being challenged by Jamie Owens inside the six yards box.
However, Gary Middleton’s side dug deep and after dominating, reversed the lead with two goals inside eight minutes.
In the 17th, a long throw-in from the right by James Taylor was glanced on at the near post by Chris Fawcett for Darren Lough to head wide of keeper James Briggs and into the far corner of the net.
The goal which put Ashington ahead also stemmed from a set piece.
Liam Atkin had a shot blocked following a corner by Fawcett but when Stephen Young played the ball into the danger zone, Matthew Grieve fired home on the turn.
Ashington continued to have the upper hand but a Grieve clearance, which fortuitously rebounded off Owens, gave Michael Dunwell a chance with Dryden grateful to save.
Five minutes into the second half, the Colliers stretched their lead with a great finish from Gareth Bainbridge.
Young latched on to Mark O’Dea’s through pass to spread the ball wide for Bainbridge who reached it just ahead of the advancing Briggs and directed a lob with the outside of his right boot which fell just inside the far post.
Billingham came into the game and Dryden was forced to smother a 30 yarder from substitute Louis Whensley which went through a wall of players before Alan Cossavella headed just wide from a corner by sub Michael Arthur.
Owens went close then in the 89th minute, Fawcett played the ball through for substitute Damen Mullen whose first time left foot effort was held by Briggs.
Flockett then stroked home Billingham’s second from the edge of the area – but the Colliers held on.
Ashington: Dryden, Taylor, Lough, Grieve, Atkin, Scott, Johnson (Deagle 86 mins), O’Dea, Young (Mullen 65 mins), Bainbridge (Dugdale 71 mins), Fawcett. Subs not used: Rees, Buzzeo.
On Saturday Ashington are at Shildon in the first qualifying round of the FA Cup (3pm).
If a replay is necessary, it will take place at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday, September 20, with a 7.30pm kick-off.
However, if there is a result on Saturday, Ashington will then be at home to Chester-le-Street on Tuesday, September 20, in the first round of the League Cup (7.30pm).