ASHINGTON CFC put a spoke in Whitley Bay’s hopes of pulling off a league and FA Vase double when for the second time this campaign, they came away from Hillheads with a deserved victory under their belts.
The Colliers had been the last team to beat Whitley Bay when in mid January they won 2-1 in the Sage Northumberland Senior Cup.
And on Saturday they brought an end to the Seahorses’ record breaking run of 18 consecutive wins since.
The Bay, playing catch up with a glut of league games, were always in the game even after Andrew Johnson’s header early in the second period had given the Colliers a two-goal cushion.
And similarly when they were down to ten men with quarter of an hour remaining after striker Paul Chow had been carried off and all three substitutes used.
Ashington played some good football but were indebted to keeper Karl Dryden, who in the first half pulled off a couple of world class saves.
Bay’s former Ashington keeper Kyle Hayes also distinguished himself.
The home side, with thoughts of a late rally to challenge Spennymoor for the championship, almost made the dream start.
Only 20 seconds had elapsed when David Pounder saw his effort head towards the bottom corner only tipped away by Dryden.
Ashington hit back within a minute following quick interchange play between Stephen Young, Phill Bell and Jonny Godsmark, with Hayes going to his right to claw down an effort from the latter.
In the tenth minute Bell flashed a header wide, then the same player saw a half volley pushed away by Hayes.
Yet it was the young stopper whose fumble from a low drive by Johnson led to the opener on the quarter hour with Bay’s former striker Bell again writing his own script on his return.
Darren Lough’s cross found Johnson and the midfielder’s shot from 20 yards spun up off the keeper with Bell nodding in the rebound.
Ten minutes after the opener, the prolific Chow found space down the left and set himself up but his left foot shot across Dryden clipped the far post and the follow up by Damon Robson was blocked.
Craig McFarlane launched a 30 yarder which was held by Dryden then two minutes later Chow got on the end of a McFarlane cross but saw his goalbound header magnificently saved by the keeper.
Ashington’s goal was leading a charmed life and in the next minute a chance fell to skipper David Coulson but with only Dryden to beat he was again thwarted.
Having ridden the storm, the Colliers could so easily have added a second shortly before half-time. An acrobatic half volley from Scott where he cut across the ball saw his superb 35 yarder matched by a first class save by Hayes who turned it over the bar.
Six minutes into the second period the Colliers got a second goal with Johnson claiming his 17th of the season.
Johnson ghosted in at the near post to steer a header into the net from close range following a pin point corner from the left by Scott.
But back came the Bay and Lee Kerr cut inside before letting fly and was only denied by the crossbar.
Having used all three substitutes, the home side were reduced to ten men when Chow was carried off and later taken to hospital with an ankle injury, but even then, Kerr pounced to hit an instinctive left foot effort which was turned aside by Dryden.
Ashington manager Gary Middleton said it was his one of his side’s best performances of the season.
“I thought it was an outstanding performance, and one of our best this season without a doubt, he said.
Ashington: Dryden, Taylor, Lough, O’Dea, Atkin, Rees, Godsmark, Scott, Young (Blandford 70 mins), Bell (Wightman 83 mins), Johnson. Subs not used: Dunn, Mullen, Harmison. Attendance: 534.
On Saturday Ashington are away to Sunderland RCA before travelling to Whitley Park on Wednesday, April 20, to meet Newcastle United Reserves in the semi-final of the Sage Northumberland FA Senior Cup.