Hebburn Town 3, Ashington 2: EBAC Northern League, Division One
Ashington FC club captain Wayne Buchanan faces a lengthy period on the sidelines after he suffered a leg fracture in the first half of the Colliers 3-2 defeat at Hebburn Town on Tuesday night (August 7).
The defender - making his first appearance of the season after missing out against Blyth AFC at the weekend – landed awkwardly near the touchline and was carried off then taken to hospital where X-rays revealed a double fracture.
The news compounded the woes for manager Steve Bowey who will surely concur with the phrase ‘It never rains but it pours'. Bowey had seen his side leak four goals in a quarter-of-an-hour in the season opener - and subsequent 4-3 reverse - against Blyth AFC on Saturday.
Three days later, his outfit capitulated again as they found themselves trailing by two goals in six minutes and, after conceding a third towards the end of the first period, went in at the interval with a mountain to climb.
Two late strikes from substitute Channon North and Zak Atkinson gave them hope bu,t for the second game in a row, it was too little, too late.
The Wansbeck side could have made an explosive start as straight from the kick-off, Bowey played the ball out wide to Jay Hornsby and his through-pass for Atkinson was fractionally over hit with home keeper Samuel Taylor swooping to collect it.
However, the Hornets retaliated, forcing a corner on the right and when James Fairley swung the ball over, Ben Dibb-Fuller was up-ended by Jake Turnbull. It was a stonewall penalty - referee Michael Burrows duly pointing to the spot - and Luke Sullivan sent keeper Conor Grant the wrong way with a firmly struck kick.
Hebburn’s second arrived when Dan Groves and Fairley combined down the right and, when the latter crossed, Sullivan’s effort hit the post but the rebound ran across where
Michael Richardson netted from a tight angle at the far post.
In the tenth minute, Ashington thought they had strong claims for a penalty when Turnbull was caught late in the Hebburn box but the referee waved play on then on the quarter-hour, Graeme Armstrong had a goalbound header pushed away by Grant.
Liam Armstrong came on for Buchanan and within three minutes, Ashington were caught out, with Grant forced to block an effort from Dibb-Fuller. However, in the 37th minute, Hebburn went into a 3-0 lead when Groves and Richardson combined down the right flank and when Grant pushed the ball out from the latter, Armstrong was on hand to apply the finishing touch.
Ashington introduced ex-Hebburn striker Channon North for the start of the second half - but they could have been four nil down inside the opening 15 seconds as the ball broke for Armstrong who cut inside and was not far away with a drive from 35 yards.
In the 51st minute, Atkinson helped on a cross from the left from Hornsby to North and the striker netted – only for the goal to be ruled out for offside. Gerard Richardson then won the
ball in a tackle to feed North and when he crossed, Damien Stevens was off target.
Midway through the period, a rare error from Bowey presented Armstrong with an opportunity and a right-footer from 20 yards by the forward thudded against the bar.
Ashington pulled a goal back in the 78th minute, with North on the mark. Bowey ventured forward and when he released the ball, North’s shot went past Taylor and just inside the
post. Ten minutes later, it was 3-2. Bowey was again heavily involved as he burst through and fed the ball to Atkinson, whose low right-foot effort crept between Taylor and his near post.
Incredibly, 90 seconds later, a cross from the left presented Atkinson with a difficult chance. The forward snatched at the opening and fired wide. Then the final whistle sounded - with the Colliers losing out by the odd goal in consecutive matches.
* On Saturday, Ashington are at home to Knaresborough Town in the extra preliminary round of the Emirates FA Cup (3pm).
Ashington: Grant, Henderson, Hornsby, Vipond, Buchanan (Armstrong, 25 minutes), Bell, Turnbull (North, 46), Bowey, Stevens, Atkinson, Richardson (Downey, 74). Subs not used: McAndrew, Francois.
Attendance: 237. Referee: Michael Burrows