Ex-Ashington players Atkin and Hayes pivotal in narrow Shildon win

Ashington midfielder Phil Airey is challenged by a Shildon defender. Picture by Ian Appleby - www.ianapplebyimages.com
Ashington midfielder Phil Airey is challenged by a Shildon defender. Picture by Ian Appleby - www.ianapplebyimages.com

It was one of Gary Middleton’s favourite phrases, that in football you don’t always get what you deserve.

Therefore it was ironic that Ashington, playing their first match since Middleton’s decision to resign at the beginning of the week, should run title aspirants Shildon close.

And they arguably missed out on claiming a point which many observers thought they deserved.

Shildon boss Gary Forrest reckoned his side ‘just deserved’ to win the clash whilst Ashington’s caretaker pairing of David Brown and David Leightley believed the home outfit deserved to take something from the game.

And had it not been for a terrific block from ex-Colliers keeper Kyle Hayes in the third minute of stoppage time, the Wansbeck side would have restored parity through Andy Ferrell.

As it was, on a day when the inclement weather decimated fixtures in the Ebac Northern League, another player returning to his old stamping ground – Liam Atkin – kept the Railwaymen on track to mount a serious challenge for the title when he scored what proved to be the winner ten minutes into the second half.

The Dean Street outfit leapfrogged Jarrow Roofing to climb up to sixth place, six points adrift of leaders West Auckland, but with several games in hand.

They made a dream start with a superb fourth minute strike from Ben Wood.

Skipper Mark Hudson claimed the assist as he fed Wood who gave home keeper Kyle Barnard no chance with a venomous left foot shot from 12 yards which screamed into the roof of the net.

Mark Doninger went close before Barnard made a double save to deny Paul Connor, then at the other end, Tony Stephenson fired over a volley before a cross from Andrew Johnson saw Ben Christensen’s volley punched out by Hayes.

Ashington were certainly not deflated after the early reverse and on the half hour when another delivery from Johnson was only half cleared, Phil Airey’s scooped effort from inside the six-yard box was blocked with Billy Greulich-Smith clearing off the line from the resultant corner on the right by Kyle Downey.

A low drive from Airey from fully 25 yards rippled the side-netting before the spirited effort shown by the Colliers brought a richly merited equaliser seven minutes from the break.

And what a goal it was from the Colliers’ skipper.

Glen Taylor played the ball into Johnson who conjured something out of nothing as he weaved inside two defenders then unleashed a brilliant right foot drive from the edge of the area which flew into the top corner past a helpless Hayes.

Barnard held from Wood then shortly after the interval Hudson went close after a lay-off from Connor.

However, in the 55th minute Shildon regained the lead.

Substitute Lee Chapman delivered a free kick from the right into the danger zone where Atkin stabbed home from close range at the back post.

Lance McGlen performed well to clear a header from Connor off the line then with quarter of an hour remaining, Johnson found Walton – who had replaced the injured Stephenson midway through the first period – and his blockbuster from 14 yards was tipped over by Hayes.

Ashington were almost caught on the break when sub Chris Emms supplied Greulich-Smith but his tame effort was saved with ease by Barnard.

An in-swinging corner from the left by replacement Martin Brittain, making an Ashington return, was cleared off the line before McGlen’s through pass was chested down by Walton into the path of Ferrell. The midfielder was through one-on-one but saw his low goal bound effort blocked by the agile Hayes which ensured his side all three points.

Ashington: Barnard, Christensen, Davison, Ferrell, McGlen, Buchanan, Stephenson (Walton 23), Johnson, G Taylor, Airey (Brittain 76), Downey. Sub not used: Robson.

Attendance: 212.

On Saturday Ashington travel to face Marske United, another side in the championship mix. Kick-off 3pm.