Ashington 0 Knaresborough Town 2; Emirates FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Ashington crashed out of the Emirates FA Cup against Northern Counties East Premier Division outfit Knaresborough Town at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday with Colliers assistant manager Gareth McAlindon describing the performance as ‘embarrassing’.
A goal on the stroke of half-time by Ben Cohen with striker Colin Heath doubling the tally 10 minutes after the interval, was enough to put the Wansbeck side out of the competition at the first hurdle for the second time in three seasons.
McAlindon said: “It’s been a bad start to the campaign for us. In the first two league games against Blyth AFC and Hebburn, we conceded early goals. Today, although we showed a bit of resilience early on, we lacked any sort of invention or quality with the ball.
“Knaresborough obviously were aware that we had leaked early goals and they put us under pressure. We had players missing but we weren’t good enough with the ball and were terrible around the box.
“We started Channon North up front and we gave the players an idea of how to play and what we wanted from them but the quality just wasn’t there and we didn’t use him (North) enough. Even when we got the ball forward in the first half, we gave it away and it ended up where the game became stretched. We were really poor.”
He continued: “In our last two league games, we came back from deficits because we had nothing to lose and we showed a bit of character - but today we never showed any of that. I’m embarrassed really as to how it went, how poor we were with the ball, our lack of confidence and some players even looked like they couldn’t wait for the final whistle which is obviously not what we want.
“It is really difficult to talk about the defeat because it is still raw - but I’m really down. We need people to stand up and be counted though and at the minute if things are not going well some look like they are saying ‘what are we going to do?’”
Both teams started brightly. In the opening seconds a cross from the right by Rob Vouhill was pocketed by Conor Grant then the keeper fisted the ball away from the same player following a corner on the right.
Ashington’s first threat came on the quarter-hour when a lovely ball played down the line by Lee McAndrew found Zak Atkinson but his pull back was poor and the visitors cleared.
The Colliers put together a neat move in the 26th minute but again it fizzled out with Atkinson’s tame shot going wide. Knaresborough – promoted at the end of last season as champions of the first division - got stronger with Vouhill prominent and after a shotfrom Brad Walker had been pushed away by Grant, a 30-yarder from Cohen drifted narrowly over the bar.
A shot from Cohen stung the palms of Grant who turned the ball away for a corner then Walker volleyed over. Damien Stevens headed wide from an Atkinson cross but it came as no surprise when The Boro went ahead in the final minute of the half.
An effort from Heath was repelled by Grant and when the ball fell straight into the path of Cohen, he hammered it home from close range (0-1).
Knaresborough’s second arrived ten minutes after the interval and was a real body blow for the Colliers. Cohen played a pass through the eye of a needle into the area for Heath who swept the ball home first time squeezing his effort through the narrow gap between Grant and the post (0-2).
Three minutes later, Atkinson headed over following a Kyle Downey corner then after a shot from substitute North had been blocked, Ashington failed to fashion a chance for the remainder of the game and consequently headed for the exit door.
Ashington: Grant, McAndrew, Hornsby, Henderson, Bell (Caygill, 46 minutes), Armstrong, Downey (Francois, 61 minutes), Vipond, Stevens, Atkinson, North (Stephenson, 69 minutes). Subs not used: Cunningham, McCarthy, Richardson, Glasper (gk). Referee: Mark Ryan. Attendance: 185.
On Wednesday (August 15), the Colliers make the short journey to face North Shields at the Daren Persson Stadium. On Saturday (August 18), Ashington are at home to Guisborough (3pm), before they host Consett on Tuesday (August 21).