ASHINGTON CFC’s form is slowly but surely returning.
After an early season which promised so much and saw advanced runs in both the FA Cup and FA Vase, Gary Middleton’s side suffered defeat at Long Buckby in the latter competition which subsequently provided a shock to their systems.
Confidence was shattered; fluency and urgency both disappeared from their game which culminated in only one win in five matches.
The Vase exit came in January – now two months on, the resurgence is underway.
Despite not firing on all cylinders on Saturday when Jarrow Roofing came to Woodhorn Lane, the hard earned victory took Ashington’s recent points tally to ten from 12 and 13 from 18.
Andrew Johnson’s 14th goal of the campaign coupled with Gareth Bainbridge’s first league strike of the season eventually put the skids under the Roofers to complete a season’s double following an emphatic 5-0 result in mid-October.
But Ashington did not have it all their own way as the visitors were the better side for much of the opening period.
Yet apart from a direct free kick from 25 yards by Michael Coghlan, which was held at the foot of the post by home keeper Karl Dryden in the third minute, the closest they came to finding the net was in the 18th minute.
Looking up and spotting Dryden off his line, Coghlan’s 30 yarder had goal written all over it but the ball smashed against the crossbar with Dryden motionless.
Stephen Young headed Ashington’s first chance wide at the near post after the overlapping Darren Lough had latched onto Mark O’Dea’s pass down the left to deliver a cross.
Keeper Ben Starford denied Johnson before the break whilst O’Dea fired over, then Phill Bell headed wide from a right-footed cross by Lough.
Ashington began the second period with more purpose and drive and they eventually broke the deadlock on the hour.
Following a cross from the right by Young, a scorcher from Lough cannoned off Ian Davidson to go for a corner.
And Mullen’s precise delivery found Johnson who planted a downward header into the net from four yards.
Jarrow’s response saw Andrew Jennings through on goal but just as he was about to pull the trigger, he was thwarted by a superb tackle inside the box by Gareth Rees.
The Colliers needed a second goal and Middleton introduced Gareth Bainbridge for the final quarter hour, and within a minute the substitute took the ball on after receiving from Johnson but fired a left footer over the bar.
Later, Scott Blandford broke down the right and after Bell and substitute Chris Scott were involved, a cross from the latter was headed inches past the upright by Bainbridge with Starford rooted to the spot.
However, in the 81st minute, Bainbridge was the scorer of a decisive second for his side.
Bell supplied a cross from the left into the danger area and Bainbridge did the rest, planting a bullet like header into the corner of the net before wheeling away in celebration.
In the closing stages Kirkup fired wide for Jarrow and in the third minute of time added on for stoppages, Dryden was forced to make a brilliant save, fisting away a shot on the turn from Jennings.
Ashington: Dryden, Blandford, Lough, Shaw, Atkin, Rees, Johnson (Scott 78 mins), O’Dea, Young (Bainbridge 74 mins), Bell, Mullen (Wightman 84 mins). Sub not used: Harmison.
Tonight (Thursday) Ashington are away to Dunston, then on Saturday they travel to face Bishop Auckland at their new Heritage Park ground.
Ashington are then scheduled to travel to Filtrona Park to face South Shields on Tuesday, March 22, but the game will be put back if the Colliers’ semi-final tie against Newcastle United Reserves in the Sage Northumberland Senior Cup gets the go-ahead to take place at Whitley Park next midweek.