Hard work earns Ashington a point at Spennymoor

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They had to defend for their lives, especially in the second half, but Ashington nevertheless worked their socks off and deservedly earned a point from a goalless draw on Thursday night against FA Vase finalists Spennymoor Town at the Brewery Field.

Colliers keeper Karl Dryden was also in inspired form with one sensational stop in the first period.

Yet for all they soaked up what was at times constant pressure, Gary Middleton’s men could so easily have snatched victory at the death.

On a perfect evening, football was the undoubted winner in the opening 45 minutes with Wallsend-based referee David McCallum only having to blow his whistle for the occasional foul.

Wayne Phillips and Keith Graydon pulled the strings for the home side and in the fifth minute Dryden was forced to dive to his right to clutch a 20-yard effort from Graydon.

Ashington’s first opportunity came when Marc Walton crossed from the right but the ball just missed the head of the incoming Andrew Johnson arriving in the middle.

Seconds later, James Taylor produced a trademark block tackle inside the area to deny Phillips, then a chip from all of 40 yards by Graydon – who had spotted Dryden off his line – saw the keeper back pedal to tip over.

Spennymoor forced a corner on the right and from the short worked flag kick, Lewis Dodds played the ball inside for Graydon whose effort from 30 yards was again pushed over by Dryden.

Home stopper Robert Dean headed clear as Walton closed in following good work by Andrew Dugdale and Paul Antony, then a one-two between Antony and Gareth Bainbridge ended with a low shot from the former which arced wide of Dean’s right hand post.

Midway through the half, Gavin Cogden met a cross from Kallum Griffiths but directed a header straight at Dryden.

Then came the highlight of the first half. Phillips found Mark Davison whose goalbound effort was magnificently kept out by Dryden.

Five minutes later, Walton set up Antony whose cracking drive from 25 yards produced a great save by Dean, diving full stretch to his left.

Before the interval, Cogden had a marvellous opportunity when he had a one-on-one chance, but as Dryden advanced, the striker missed the target.

On the hour, Dryden denied Cogden then Matty Grieve headed away from the danger zone before the central defender cleared an effort off the line.

Craig Ruddy and Cogden were thwarted by Dryden then Graydon dragged his shot wide as Ashington held firm.

In the 86th minute, the Colliers almost shocked their hosts when Bainbridge played a one-two with Johnson but saw his drive touched away by Dean.

With time running out, Ruddy produced a mazy run down the flank which ended with him running the ball out of play, then a darting and threatening run by Johnson ended when he was brought down by substitute Michael Laws.

Craig Scott made his first appearance since he injured his hamstring in the 1-1 draw at Team Northumbria a month ago when he came on for the final five minutes to replace Walton.

Ashington: Dryden, J Taylor, Dobby, Antony, Atkin, Grieve, Godsmark (L Scott 71 mins), Dugdale (O’Dea 78 minutes), Walton (C Scott 85 mins), Bainbridge, Johnson. Sub not used: Bell.