ACCORDING to the football manager’s rule of thumb, it is derby matches where the formbook goes out of the window.
However at a sunny Woodhorn Lane ground on Saturday, Penrith made a mockery of both their lowly league placing and ranking in the current form guide, winning a thriller by the odd goal in seven against Ashington CFC.
At the same time, the Cumbrians banished Ashington to their fourth league defeat in five outings since going out of the FA Carlsberg Vase at Long Buckby three weeks ago.
And the Colliers need to stop the rot if they are to have any chance of finishing in the top eight.
Also worrying is Ashington’s home form, which has seen them lose three out of the last four matches at the Lane.
Penrith, who parted company with manager James Tose in midweek, were much sharper and more composed on the ball than the home side, who looked lethargic.
Strikers Martyn Coleman and Wayne Robertson caused as many problems to the Colliers back line than any other opponents so far this season as the home side struggled to get out of the blocks.
The Cumbrians moved into a two goals lead inside the opening 20 minutes.
Indeed Coleman ought to have given his side a dream start after only 90 seconds.
He sped down the left touchline and cut inside but somehow saw his shot deflected for a corner by Darren Lough.
At the other end, Phill Bell had a header blocked and Stephen Young was snuffed out before Mark O’Dea blasted well wide.
However, Penrith took the lead in the 13th minute. Coleman surged down the right and when he crossed into the middle, Robertson netted at the far post from six yards.
Four minutes later, Damen Mullen met a cross by Chris Scott but saw his header directed straight at James Holland, and within 60 seconds Penrith had doubled their advantage from a basic set piece.
They forced a corner on the right and from Lee Hoolickin’s inswinger, the towering Robertson was allowed a free run to direct a thumping header past Dryden.
Still the chances came thick and fast. At one end, Robertson had a shot held by Dryden and Lee Otway spurned two opportunities, volleying wide from eight yards after a cross by Coleman then firing wide after evading the offside trap.
At the other, Bell had one header cleared off the line, another parried then saved by Holland whilst Lough lashed wide of the target.
On top of that, O’Dea went through only to lift his shot over before an overhead kick by Bell took a deflection to go behind for a corner.
Ashington had struggled to get going in the first period but they got a lift early in the second period, only to press the self destruct button shortly afterwards.
The Colliers were awarded a corner on the right and from Scott’s delivery, James Taylor glanced the ball on for Young to head home at the far post.
But within 60 seconds Penrith had restored their two goals advantage.
Coleman was the supplier of a cross from the right and Otway did the rest, guiding a header wide of Dryden and just inside the keeper’s left hand post.
Straight from the restart, Young got through down the left and when he pulled the ball square, Scott’s effort hit the woodwork.
The drama continued with Ashington drawing level with two goals in as many minutes.
Midway through the period, Lough latched onto a cross from the right and measured a right footer from the edge of the area wide of Holland and into the corner of the net.
Then another ball played in from the right touchline saw skipper Scott Blandford equalise with a shot from ten yards.
And supporters will never know just how the game would have panned out had Bell’s 80th minute header gone inside the post rather than rolling inches wide after a quality ball from a free kick by Scott.
Instead, after Taylor had made a superb last ditch tackle to halt Coleman and Robertson had headed over, the Cumbrians moved into a 4-3 lead with three minutes of normal time remaining.
Substitute Daniel Robinson was the supplier of a cross from the left which saw Otway claim his second with a header which clipped the upright before finding the net.
Oh for the Colliers to have the same end product as following a corner by Scott, Taylor’s shot smacked against the bar then after a low cross from substitute Johnny Wightman, fellow sub Andrew Johnson struck the post with the ball bouncing out to safety.
Ashington: Dryden, Taylor, Lough, Blandford, Atkin, Walmsley, Scott, O’Dea (Wightman 69 mins), Young (Bainbridge 75 mins), Bell, Mullen (Johnson 83 mins). Subs not used: Nickalls, Shaw.
On Saturday Ashington are away to Dunston UTS (3pm kick-off) then the Colliers are also on their travels when they face Norton & Stockton Ancients at the Station Road ground on Wednesday, February 23 (7.30pm kick-off).