FA Cup revenge 90 years in the making for Nelson over Ashington
The last time these clubs met, both teams were Football League sides, the great depression was in full swing, Ashington's legions of Colliers were in dispute with their employers and the FA Cup once again looked a lucrative source for both sides to get much needed funds.
Given the circumstances, a reasonable 5,265 saw the 1926-27 season FA Cup second round tie at Portland Park, which the Colliers edged by the odd goal in three.
That win set up the plum third round tie with Nottingham Forrest of the old second division.
A 2-0 defeat ensued but for the Colliers the cup had eased the financial burden circumstance was bestowing on them.
Saturday’s game by any stretch of the imagination was a slightly more modest affair, although the spoils much sought after.
Ashington started the game without regular goalkeeper Connor Grant, who was forced to watch from the sidelines as his ban for a sending off against Marske United at the end of last season kicked in. Luc Glasper, a product of the Colliers’ youth section, deputised.
Nelson, kicking towards the Welfare end, applied the early pressure on an Ashington side that struggled to get out of the starting blocks.
As the game was just beginning to settle down the away side edged in front. On eight minutes Keiren Turner left the home defence static and slotted past Glasper.
Nelson almost doubled their advantage a minute later when again some slack defending allowed Nelson number nine Zak Dale through on goal, but his shot was blocked by Glasper and cleared off the line by Ryan Bell.
Glasper was again called into action on 25 minutes, saving well from Dale, whose pace was causing all kinds of trouble for the home defence.
On 33 minutes Ashington were back on level terms. A ball from Henderson on the right found Scott Gunn just outside of the Nelson penalty area. His first touch took the ball away from two defenders and he struck a sweet shot with his left foot past James in the Nelson net.
Ashington then began to turn the screw with a number of chances in quick succession.
On 39 minutes Gunn laid the ball off to Scott Blandford, who sent a half volley from the edge of the box crashing off the bar.
Then the Nelson keeper had to be at his best to block from Damien Stevens, whose pace saw him wriggle free of the central defenders to get a header in on goal.
On 42 minutes the Colliers went close to taking the lead. A ball into the box was met by Andrew Bulford, who managed to turn the defender and get a shot in on goal. Losing his footing he crashed the ball off the post and the danger was cleared.
Ashington never really built on their end to the first half and struggled to get back on top. The away side, however, started much as they had in the first, keeping hold of the ball and limiting any opportunities for the Colliers to get forward.
On 73 minutes Nelson were back ahead. Balndford tracking back fouled a Nelson player in the box and Dale stroked the ball past Glasper for 2-1.
Glasper was again called into action soon after, making an excellent save from Bradley Cookson.
The game petered out, leaving Ashington with a disappointing opening day defeat and a lucrative chance to progress in the cup lying in tatters.
Opening day it may have been but Stephen Harmison’s men must do better or the chances of a successful season are slim.
For Nelson, Bishop Auckland await in the next round. Not quite Nottingham Forrest, but revenge 90 years in the making was sweet.
Ashington: Glasper, Henderson, Laidler (Salmon 84), Blandford, Harmison, Bell, Gunn, Downey (Farrell 84), Stevens, Bulford, McAndrew.
Next up for Ashington is a trip to Consett on Tuesday, August 9, before a trip to Shildon on Saturday.