English stars in routine win for Ashington

Ashington CFC's Tommy English.
Ashington CFC's Tommy English.

IF there is such a thing as a routine or regulation victory in football then Ashington achieved it against Stokesley at a windswept Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.

Not only was it comfortable against a struggling yet commendable side, it also resulted in the Colliers securing their second double of the season after they hammered the North Yorkshire outfit 7-0 earlier in the campaign.

And in truth, Gary Middleton’s side should have at least matched the scoreline from when the teams met back in October.

The sole reason they did not was an inspired goalkeeping performance by the unorthodox Justin Hutchinson, who combined a few brilliant top drawer saves to others of which he knew little about.

Ashington dominated from start to finish – apart from the opening couple of minutes when there was a scare for home defender Matty Grieve.

Only 72 seconds had elapsed when the ball split the Ashington defence, sending Owen Dixon through the middle.

The retrieving Grieve, with skipper Liam Atkin at close quarters, gave Dixon the slightest of nudges which sent him tumbling 25 yards out and home supporters were holding their breath until the referee brandished a yellow card.

After that it was one way traffic for the home side, which revolved around the skills of Tommy English.

His first contribution coming in the fourth minute when Hutchinson punched out a deep cross and the left sided player linked with Craig Scott and when he found Andrew Johnson, the midfielder was not too far away.

The pressure was constant and a snapshot by English from 25 yards was fisted out by Hutchinson and from the resultant corner delivered by English, Phill Bell’s header was cleared off the line by Kalumn Holbrook.

It seemed only a matter of time before the deadlock would be broken with Johnson having a shot which came back off the keeper and Scott heading over.

In the 25th minute Bell set up Johnson who cut inside only to see his left foot effort magnificently turned aside by Hutchinson.

It was nothing more than the Colliers deserved when they finally took the lead in the 33rd minute.

Good approach work down the left saw Scott find Marc Walton whose shot was blocked.

However the ball ran free to the striker who curled a superb left footer into the far corner.

Cue another period where English was the supplier of a trio of inviting corners and Bell saw the final one, a goalbound header, tipped over in fine style by Hutchinson.

Ashington’s second arrived ten minutes after the break and was another quality strike from Walton.

Awarded a free kick on the left, English clipped the ball into the area for Walton to meet it on the volley and steer an instinctive effort into the far corner.

On the hour it should have been three as Johnson and Walton combined to set up English whose shot came back off the post.

Grieve and Bell had opportunities before Johnson notched his 14th of the season 12 minutes from time.

Darren Lough had replaced Scott and the substitute was involved in the build up with a ball knocked into the box.

Johnson found Walton who was denied his hat-trick as his shot struck the woodwork, but the ball rebounded to Johnson who calmly side footed home to make it 3-0.

Five minutes from time, home keeper Karl Dryden was finally called into the action parrying to his right to deny Porritt, but in time added on both English and Johnson were thwarted by the overworked Hutchinson.

Ashington: Dryden, Taylor, Scott (Lough 70 mins), O’Dea (Dugdale 82 mins), Atkin, Grieve, Johnson, Tait, Walton, Bell (Bainbridge 79 mins), English. Subs not used: Buzzeo, Rees.

Attendance: 148.

In midweek, the Colliers put up a spirited performance but went down 2-1 against league leaders West Auckland at Darlington Road.

John Campbell fired West ahead in the 18th minute direct from a free kick, and the same player doubled the lead two minutes inside the second period.

Ashington had rued missed chances which fell to Phill Bell and Marc Walton in the first half, but in the 63rd minute when the former was sent sprawling in the penalty area by Matthew Coad, the striker picked himself to blast home from the spot.

The Colliers had further opportunities whilst Mattie Moffat dragged an effort wide for West, but in a grandstand finale, the home side held on to take all three points.

On Saturday Ashington are away to Jarrow Roofing before they host Consett at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday March 6 (7.30pm kick-off).