Freddie Flintoff on bench for Ashington against Preston

Andrew Flintoff. Picture by Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Andrew Flintoff. Picture by Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Former England cricketer Freddie Flintoff was on the bench for Ashington FC in their pre-season friendly with Preston North End on Wednesday night.

The ex-Ashes winning hero is a close friend of Colliers boss Steve Harmison.

And the Preston-born Flintoff donned the football boots for the game at Woodhorn Lane, which his home team won with a second half strike.

Jack Ryan’s 62nd minute was the only thing that separated the two sides in front of a crowd of almost 500.

Flintoff, who was a late signing for the Colliers, also brought his touring fish bar to the ground.

As for the game, although Ryan scored with an opportunist strike, there was much for home supporters to admire about their side against the Championship outfit, whose starting line-up included a mixture of five professionals and academy players.

And had it not been for visiting goalkeeper Steven James, the Lilywhites would have trailed at the interval while only a glancing deflection prevented a late equaliser from home skipper Andrew Johnson.

After a mixed bag of weather during the day, Bedlington-based Premiership referee Michael Oliver got the game under way in perfect playing conditions.

As early as the second minute, Ryan cut inside from the left but his shot was magnificently intercepted by a trade mark block by James Harmison.

In a first half devoid of many chances, Jonathyn Quinn had a right footer kept out by James, a low 30 yards free kick by Johnson whistled narrowly wide then from a greater distance, Dylan Williamson directed his shot straight at James.

The Colliers continued to mount pressure and after a Quinn effort had flashed wide, Johnson conjured up a piece of magic down the left flank but when he crossed, Quinn’s shot trickled agonisingly wide.

Early in the second period, James fielded a shot from substitute Michael Bell then Lamin Jagne fired over when well placed.

James once again fisted out to deny Williamson after a break out of defence by Kyle Oliver, but the stopper’s block on the hour proved to be even more significant.

Quinn and Williamson schemed a scintillating one-two and it was the former who was thwarted.

Then within 90 seconds, Ryan scored what proved to be the decisive strike, rifling a right footer past Conor Grant from 16 yards.

Minutes later, Adam Joseph Robinson almost doubled the advantage, his drive going across Grant and wide before the home keeper pushed another Ryan effort behind for a corner.

Five minutes from time, a searching long range pass from Liam Atkin found Johnson on the left and after the skipper had cut inside, his goal bound curler form 14 yards was deflected wide by a defender.

Then as the final whistle approached, Johnson got to the by-line and pulled the ball back only for captain Ben Davies to make a timely clearance.

Ashington: Grant, Smith, Oliver, Downey, Atkin, Harmison, Williamson, Williams, Armstrong, Quinn, Johnson. Subs: Dunn, Bell, Shanks, Robson, Stephenson, Loughborough, Flintoff.

Attendance: 480.