Disputed Harmison penalty sees Ashington past Seaham Red Star
Ben Harmison secured victory for Ashington against Seaham Red Star on Saturday after converting a hotly disputed second half penalty.
The incident arrived in the 77th minute when home substitute Dan O’Reilly – on his debut – was put through down the left by Ben Harmison and after was nudged and sent sprawling by a challenge from Jack Walker.
After pointing to the spot, referee Stephen Dial was surrounded by a posse of Seaham players before Harmison stepped forward and coolly sent keeper Shaun Newbrook the wrong way.
That was not to be the final action of what was a fast, open and pulsating encounter played on a resplendent looking surface prepared by grounds men Graham Chambers and Scott Robson.
But having struck the woodwork three times during the second period and having had two goals chalked off, the visitors, who looked a formidable outfit, will understandably feel aggrieved to return home empty handed.
The Durham side, who were fifth before the start of play following a string of good results, showed their pedigree right from the kick-off.
After only 18 seconds, home stopper Luc Glasper, deputising for the unavailable Conor Grant, was forced to block an effort, then David Scorer had a header disallowed for offside.
Ashington then had a spell of their own where Ben Harmison twice nodded wide and Walker made a timely tackle in the area to thwart Lee McAndrew.
But in the 18th minute, Star went ahead when a shot from the lively and dangerous Craig Lynch was diverted into the net past Glasper by ex-Collier Paul Gardiner.
David Dormand flashed a header wide then Glasper saved at the near post with his legs from another effort by Lynch.
Still the relentless action continued and a turning point came in the 34th minute when David Palmer accelerated into the area and got on the end of a lovely weighted through ball but lifted his shot over the bar.
Ben Sampson drove a 20 yarder wide before the teenager started the move which led to Ashington’s equaliser eight minutes before the interval. He took a quick throw-in on the right to Ben Harmison who skilfully beat two defenders close to the by-line and when he pulled the ball back, McAndrew clipped home from close range.
The second half was a replica of the first, full of incidents as play switched regularly from end to end.
Newcomer O’Reilly came on for the injured McAndrew and within a minute Paul Antony’s pass sent him darting through down the left, but with Harmison unmarked in the middle, he fired a tame shot from distance which was easily fielded by Newbrook.
Lynch, who was proving a handful for the Ashington rearguard, struck the post with Glasper stranded, then after a terrific surging run by Luke Salmon, Newbrook turned an effort from Dormand aside.
Lynch went close before a pacy run down the left flank by O’Reilly saw his cross met by Harmison whose left footer was pushed away by Newbrook.
Supporters were lapping up the intense action, and after Glasper had tipped over from Andrew Johnston, Lynch curled a right footer which struck the post and rolled away.
Harmison’s spot kick put the hosts in front but Seaham gave their all and after Gardiner had a header ruled out for offside, the woodwork once again denied the visitors in the second minute of stoppage time when a 25-yard free kick by Lee Hetherington rattled the upright.
On Saturday Ashington are away to Washington, kick-off 3pm, then the Colliers begin a programme of three consecutive home games when Marske United visit Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday, November 8, where kick-off is 7.45pm.
Ashington: Glasper, Henderson, Salmon, Antony, J Harmison, Buchanan, Sampson (Scott 88), S Bell, Dormand (Gunn 76), B Harmison, McAndrew (O’Reilly 52). Subs not used: Christensen, Downey.