Harmison heads Ashington into next round of the FA Cup

Ashington advanced into the preliminary round of the FA Cup after a header from Ben Harmison two minutes before half-time accounted for Sunderland Ryhope CW at Woodhorn Lane.

On a day when there were several eye catching displays in the Wansbeck side, Harmison’s was outstanding.

He was a constant menace throughout, but in the closing embers of the first period he met a precision in-swinging corner from the right by debutant Jay Hornsby to steam forward and plant a header past keeper Jonathan Ball.

The game was not littered with chances but Ashington had keeper Conor Grant to thank as early as the fourth minute when they were stretched.

Joseph Melvin was left in space but Grant brilliantly parried his effort from six yards when he looked a certain scorer.

Five minutes later – and at the other end – it was Harmison’s turn to look on in disbelief after he made an opportunity for himself out of nothing.

He chased a ball played down the inside left channel then made ground on a defender before clipping a left footed effort which spun away at the vital second and came back off the post with Ben Riding gratefully clearing for a corner.

Midway through the half an interception from skipper Craig Scott set up Harmison who out muscled a defender but lobbed over the bar as Ball advanced.

Ashington joint managers Steve Harmison and Tom Wade handed debuts to Hornsby, Lewis Strafford and Callum Johnston – and the latter came so close in the 26th minute with his right footer smacking against the post.

On the half hour, the temperature of the game rose a notch with visiting pair Matthew Weirs and Corey Nicholson both yellow carded inside a minute for fouls.

But in the 43rd minute it was Harmison who turned the heat on Ryhope as his effort broke the deadlock.

The second period contained even fewer openings. Shortly after the interval, Ben Sampson set up Johnston who fired over, then on the hour Lee McAndrew squandered a gilt edged opportunity to double the lead.

Who else but Ben Harmison set him up inside the area but after cleverly nipping inside a defender, McAndrew stabbed wide of the far post.

It was a pivotal moment as the visitors – not prepared to go out of the competition without a fight – thrust heavy pressure on the Ashington goal.

On 72 minutes Grant fisted out an effort from Thomas Bott with Melvin lashing over the rebound, then following a free kick in the third minute of time added on after the 90, the Colliers survived after clearing the ball off the line.

Ashington will now travel to face Sunderland RCA on Saturday, August 19, in the next round.

This weekend they are at home to Team Northumbria, kick-off 3pm.

Ashington: Grant, Henderson, Hornsby, Strafford, J Harmison, Scott, Sampson, S Bell (Downey 61), Johnston (Stephenson 68), B Harmison, McAndrew (Salmon 87). Subs not used: Pearson, Buchanan, Christensen, Glasper.

Attendance: 211.