Ashington 2-2 West Auckland
A brace from striker Zak Atkinson helped Ashington to stretch their unbeaten run to seven games after a thrilling 2-2 draw against West Auckland at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday, writes Brian Bennett.
However, the Colliers arguably came up against the best opposition they have faced this season – despite the visitors playing for a full hour with only ten men after Arran Wearmouth had been red carded within minutes of him coming on as a substitute.
West started well and after only 20 seconds, a clearance from Shaun Henderson fell to Nathan Fisher whose left foot shot was held by goalkeeper Conor Grant. Seconds later, home skipper David Edwards was forced to head over his own crossbar to avert the danger from a left wing cross.
It was all West and in the fourth minute, a move involving Chris Hunter and Fisher was broken up by a tackle from Edwards near the danger zone then Henderson headed off the line to prevent a certain opener from Hunter.
Despite being up against it, Ashington could have scored from their first threat. Atkinson was clean through one on one with ‘keeper Shane Bland but the stopper performed superbly well to block his effort.
After that respite, West again applied concerted pressure and after Fisher had placed his shot wide of the advancing Grant, Adam Mitchell – from almost on the by line – could only fire the ball straight into Grant’s hands.
Midway through, Grant repelled a shot from Fisher and Amar Purewal’s strike thudded against the underside of the bar then came Wearmouth’s dismissal. The winger – who replaced the injured Liam Hegarty – had only been on the field two minutes when he caught home skipper David Edwards with a late tackle right in front of the Ashington dugout and was sent off by referee John Mulligan.
Two minutes before the interval, Ashington took the lead from the penalty spot after Gez Richardson had been nudged down inside the area by Hunter. Atkinson stepped up and made no mistake, blasting the ball into the back of the net.
Four minutes after the interval, a chip from 25 yards by Lee McAndrew was pushed over by Bland then Daniel Parker squandered a great opportunity to level, glancing a header wide.
However on the hour, another flag kick from the right by Mitchell found Purewal who placed a firm header home for the equaliser.
The visitors’ catalogue of chances continued when Steven Snaith fed Fisher who slid his effort past Grant but wide of the far post then Grant parried from Purewal when he looked a certain scorer.
Parker and Mitchell directed efforts off target but in the 80th minute, the Colliers got their noses in front for a second time. Lewis King rolled the ball across the box for Atkinson who swivelled and stroked a low right footer which Bland got a hand too but couldn’t keep out.
However three minutes later, it was all square again. A cross from substitute Adam Burnicle was flicked by Purewal into the path of Alex Francis who from six yards, swept the ball home off the underside of the bar.
West had posed problems all afternoon from set pieces and in the first minute of time added on for stoppages, Grant pushed an angled drive from Burnicle wide with Parker heading over from the resultant corner on the right.
*On Saturday, Ashington make the trip down the coast to face Whitley Bay. Eight Colliers supporters, who are doing a sponsored walk from Woodhorn Lane to Hillheads with proceeds being donated to Prostate Cancer UK, are hoping to arrive at the ground in time for the 3pm kick off.
* Ashington FC invite supporters, friends and sponsors to an open meeting in their Woodhorn Lane based clubhouse on Thursday (October 25) starting at 7.30pm. New chairman Brian Shotton will give an update.