Strikers Dan Taylor and Paul Brayson were both on the mark at a chilly Woodhorn Lane ground as first footing Newcastle Benfield claimed a deserved victory over Ashington on Saturday.
And if Taylor’s finish in the opening half was exquisite, Brayson trumped it with a brilliant piece of opportunism 20 minutes from the end which effectively sealed the three points.
It was a massive disappointment at the start of the new year for the Colliers, who particularly in the first period struggled to make an impression.
An improved performance came after the break but it was still devoid of any spark or inventiveness, and although Benfield were forced into last ditch defending on occasions, debutant keeper Mark Cook was never seriously tested.
Ashington made one enforced change from the side which triumphed over Bedlington on Boxing Day with Andy Ferrell returning to the starting line-up for the unavailable Steven Shaw.
But it was the visitors who pressed from the first whistle and only a blocking save from home stopper Conor Grant in the fifth minute prevented the opener from Taylor as the home defence looked across at the assistant for an offside flag which never materialised.
However in the 20th minute Benfield swept in front following a top drawer finish from ex-Collier Taylor.
Chris Youlden and Michael Hoganson were involved in the construction of the move with Taylor surging forward into the area before flicking the ball with the outside of his right foot wide of the advancing Grant and inside the far corner.
The goal prompted an instant response and following a cross from the left by Andrew Johnson, an effort by Craig Scott was blocked, then a firm right footed drive from Kyle Oliver was stopped on the line.
Benfield went on to scorn further opportunities. Taylor and Lewis Scorgie were both foiled by Grant; a header from Taylor rattled the bar following a corner from the right then Michael Riley was clean through after a one-two with Brayson on the halfway line but got his bearings completely wrong and fired woefully wide.
The visitors should have had the game wrapped up and on the verge of the half-time whistle they almost paid the penalty as Ritchie Slaughter, Chris Carr and Andrew Leeson all cleared off the line to deny Glen Taylor, Oliver and Kyle Downey.
Early in the second period Grant pushed around from Riley, then the keeper tipped over from Taylor. At the other end, Downey stroked wide.
But in the 72nd minute the visitors delivered the knock out punch when Brayson, on the right, cut inside and curled a sumptuous left footer from just inside the area across Grant and into the far corner via the base of the post.
Five minutes from time Glen Taylor had an effort cleared off the line before Benfield substitute Gary Day lofted the ball over the bar in stoppage time.
Ashington: Grant, Christensen, Davison, J Taylor, Scott, McGlen, Oliver (Airey 61), Ferrell (Stephenson 75), Johnson, G Taylor, Downey. Subs not used: McClelland, Egen, Barnard.
On Saturday, January 10, Ashington travel to face Jarrow Roofing then on Tuesday, January 13, the Colliers are away to Newton Aycliffe.