THE race for the STL Northern League championship crown is certainly hotting up and heading for an exciting crescendo with only a few matches of the campaign remaining.
A slender victory by Spennymoor over Ashington at a saturated Brewery Field ground puts the Moors in with as good a shout as any, but there are sure to be other twists and turns before the curtain comes down on the season.
The two strikes by Tommy English in Ashington’s 2-0 win over Dunston had been described as a result of scoring goals at the right time – and the same could be said on Wednesday night, only on this occasion in Spennymoor’s favour.
On a surface already showing surface water right down the middle and moreover in the centre circle, the game produced a tame opening.
However, Ashington had the ball in the net in the eighth minute through Gareth Bainbridge who latched onto English’s through ball but the referee had already blown to bring play back for a foul on English.
Pacy winger Craig Ruddy unleashed a drive three minutes later which was fisted out by ‘keeper Karl Dryden then a long diagonal ball from the right to the far post found Steven Richardson who headed over.
On the half hour, good work by Gavin Cogden saw him reach the by line but when he pulled the ball back, Richardson somehow scuffed his shot and Ashington cleared.
Three minutes later, it was the Colliers who came so close – through Marc Walton. The striker picked up possession from a misplaced pass and rifled in an 18 yarder which smacked against the bar.
Both teams were trying to master conditions which were deteriorating with the rain incessant – but the Moors got an unexpected bonus – and boost – just prior to the interval.
The Ashington defence had looked solid enough but in the 42nd minute, a cross from the left by Ruddy saw Paul Buzzeo chest the ball back to Dryden – only the full back got too much purchase on it and was left distraught as the ball beat Dryden to creep into the net.
Early in the second period, Gareth Bainbridge slipped a pass through for Jonny Godsmark whose effort was taken by ‘keeper Robert Dean before the Colliers suffered a further setback on the hour when Ruddy added Spennymoor’s second.
Dryden did extremely well to deny Daniel Moore but the rebound fell to Ruddy who kept his cool and drilled a low effort home from ten yards.
Ashington refused to lie down and after a header form skipper Liam Atkin had been deflected, James Taylor laid the ball off for Atkin who had a right foot effort saved by Dean.
Moore had the ball in the net for Moors until the referee disallowed the score for offside after consulting with his assistant – but a grandstand finish was guaranteed after the visitors reduced the arrears in the 86th minute.
English floated a free-kick into the danger area where Craig Scott sent a downward header wide of Dean and just inside the upright.
Two minutes later, substitute Stephen Young found Taylor who lifted his shot over then Walton surged through but was eventually blocked out.
On Saturday, Ashington travel to Cumbria to play Penrith in what will be their last away match of the season.
Goals from the game can be seen here