Disputed penalty turns game as Ashington lose League Cup tie
Ashington crashed out of the Brooks Mileson League Cup after a 4-1 defeat at Guisborough on Wednesday evening.
However, although the scoreline points to an emphatic victory for the Priorymen, the Colliers were in the game for an hour until a hotly disputed penalty award proved pivotal.
And Connor Smith converted the spot kick to complete his hat-trick and knock the stuffing out of Steve Harmison’s side.
The Colliers handed debuts to Yannick Aziakonou and Jake Trodd, both signed from Newcastle United U18s, as well as Ryan Bell.
Just past the quarter hour mark it was Aziakonou who came to his side’s rescue. Chay Liddle’s shot was trickling towards the goal until the defender whipped the ball off the line.
But in the 26th minute Guisborough edged in front with a goal which will disappoint the Colliers.
The ball was played over from the left where Smith was allowed to ghost in and head home from six yards.
Johnson and Oliver had efforts for Ashington, then five minutes before the break, Ben Harmison had an opening but saw his shot repelled by keeper Nicky Liversedge.
And it was the stopper who again kept the visitors at bay with only seconds of the period remaining. Johnson produced a mazy and quite brilliant run through the inside right channel leaving three defenders in his wake, but as the angle got tighter, his drive was parried away by Liversedge.
Unlucky to be trailing at the break, the Wansbeck side began the second period positively and on 49 minutes Downey found Johnson whose 25 yarder beat Liversedge but thudded against the foot of the post.
Not to be denied, Ashington drew level five minutes later through Johnson. Kyle Oliver claimed the assist and Johnson again teased the home defenders as he cut inside and fired a right footer wide of the keeper and inside the post.
But within a minute Guisborough had regained the lead. Following a ball played down the left flank, Smith latched onto a cross and his shot took a deflection before finding the net wide of keeper Conor Grant.
Then came the moment of controversy after Grant had made a superb double save with referee Adam Williamson pointing to the spot after Smith had gone to ground when challenged by the stopper.
Ashington protested claiming that Grant had got his hands on the ball first, but Smith uprooted himself and although Grant dived the right way, he could not deny the forward.
Twelve minutes from time, defender Jordan Galloway ought to have added to the tally with a glancing header, then Grant tipped over from Liddle.
But five minutes from time, an in-swinging corner on the right from Daniel McWilliams drifted beyond Grant and inside the far post for Guisborough’s fourth.
The win means the Priorymen have home advantage in a quarter-final tie against Shildon, who the Colliers face at Dean Street in the league on Saturday.
Ashington: Grant, Aziakonou, Trodd, Downey, J Harmison, Bell (J Taylor 79), Oliver, Dixon, Weldon (Bains 75), B Harmison (Webb 85), Johnson. Subs not used: Bulford, Hayton.