Ex-striker Bainbridge breaks Ashington's hearts
Ashington suffered a fourth defeat of the season against old rivals North Shields at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday night.
And for the second time this season, ex-Ashington striker Gareth Bainbridge came back to haunt his former side by bundling in a late winner and sending the travelling Shieldsmen back to North Tyneside with all three points.
Ashington had almost secured a battling point after having to play the final 40 minutes with ten men after centre back Ryan Bell had received his marching orders for a second yellow card.
The goal denied home keeper Conor Grant a deserved clean sheet after an outstanding display.
Before kick-off the Colliers were presented with a commemorative plaque by Pete Sixsmith on behalf of Groundtastic magazine for the best new non league stand for 2015-16.
And it almost reached capacity levels with a good crowd of 350 generating a terrific atmosphere.
Ashington were forced into a late change when Damien Stevens withdrew due to an injury and Adam Harvey was drafted into the side to make his full debut.
However, despite going into the game on the back of a 5-0 win against Consett on Saturday, it took Ashington a full 20 minutes to grow into the contest with the Robins looking the better side.
Ben Harmison headed over an in-swinging corner from Kyle Downey but then Grant pushed out from Ryan McGorrigan, and the stopper was grateful to pocket a right footer directed straight down his throat by Bainbridge.
The striker missed another good opening before Bell was booked for a foul on Ryan Carr near the halfway line and Curtis Coppen was denied by Grant.
The Colliers’ performance improved as the game wore on, and after James Taylor, Downey and Scott Gunn had combined in a move which ended with the latter having a shot deflected for a corner, visiting keeper Sean McCafferty fielded a header from Ben Harmison following a cross by Ben Christensen.
Just prior to the interval, Downey and Harvey had efforts blocked, then within the first 30 seconds after the resumption, McGorrigan shot off target.
The same player then ventured down the right flank but when he pulled the ball back it was blocked.
Ashington broke but when substitute Jake Trodd crossed from the left, Ben Harmison’s shot was directed over the bar.
In the 52nd minute, Washington-based referee Danny Markham issued Bell with a second yellow followed by a red following a tackle from behind.
Within minutes, James Harmison came on for Harvey to slot in at the back alongside Matty Grieve.
Bainbridge fired over from the edge of the area before Grant came into his own, distinguishing himself with high quality saves to deny Shields skipper Kevin Hughes, substitute Peter Glen-Ravenhill, Gary Ormston and finally sub Dan Wilson from point-blank-range.
Sandwiched in between Grant’s heroics, Johnson led a break up front and got himself into a promising position until his effort was brilliantly blocked by McCafferty.
Bainbridge missed out on a header, but just when it appeared as if the Colliers – and Grant – were going to repel everything which Shields had thrown at them, Coppen and Michael McKeown schemed a move down the right. The latter played the ball into the danger zone where Bainbridge forced it into the corner of the net from six yards.
Ashington: Grant, Taylor (Trodd 37), Christensen, Dixon, Bell, Grieve, Downey, Gunn (Dunn 86), B Harmison, Harvey (J Harmison 56), Johnson. Sub not used: Hall.
North Shields: McCafferty, Brooking (Wilson 80 minutes), Summerly, McKeown, Coppen, Hughes, McGorrigan (Glen-Ravenhill 67), Ormston, Bainbridge, Mason, Carr (Richardson 63). Subs not used: Smith, Donnison.
Ashington protests followed as they claimed offside, but the goal stood.
On Thursday, April 7, Ashington are away to Marske, then on Saturday, April 9, travel to face Jarrow Roofing.