Newcastle Benfield 0-3 Ashington
Ashington’s rich vein of form continued on Wednesday night when two goals from striker Damien Stevens and one from Kyle Downey secured an impressive 3-0 victory over Newcastle Benfield at Sam Smiths Park.
Stevens and Downey netted in the first period then Stevens got his second in injury time towards the conclusion of the game. And it was livewire Stevens who was involved in the fifth minute as Ashington carved out the first opportunity of the game. A free kick by Wayne Buchanan inside the centre circle was headed across by Luke Salmon, Stevens flicked on and Tony Stephenson’s shot was deflected and easily gathered by home ‘keeper Andrew Grainger. Benfield’s former Morpeth midfielder Luke Carr was prominent in the early stages and on the quarter hour after Jake Orrell had played the ball through for him, Carr’s effort was blocked.
A mere sixty seconds later, only an astonishing save from Ashington stopper Conor Grant kept the scoreline blank. Prolific goalscoring striker Paul Brayson rifled in a thunderous shot which was bound for the corner until Grant – whose view was obstructed by several players in front of him – somehow got across to finger tip the ball away for a corner from which Alex Nisbet headed wide.
The Colliers took the lead in the 17th minute and referee Adam Williamson deserves maximum credit for allowing play to continue when player/manager Steve Bowey, making his full debut, was caught by a late tackle. Mr Williamson applied the advantage which saw Bowey play the ball out wide for Dylan Williamson and when he crossed, the inrushing Stevens rammed the down the centre of the goal. Benfield posed an aerial threat from set plays and on the half hour when Carr took a restart of the right, Lewis Scorgie headed into the side netting then Dylan McEvoy met a cross from the left to clip a shot on the run wide.
Skipper Mark Turnbull was the supplier of a pass which provided an opportunity for Orrell until Grant foiled him then five minutes before the break, Brayson rounded Grant and his shot from a tight angle was cleared off the line by Jay Hornsby.
Minutes later, Ashington got a terrific pre interval boost when Downey added a second. The midfielder got possession, advanced then unleashed a left footed shot which beat Grainger at his near post. On the hour, Grainger denied Williamson and from the resultant corner, Buchanan headed wide then Grant made a tremendous stop from Joe Hailes with Ben Christensen booting the ball off the line.
On 73 minutes, Grainger fisted a pile driven free kick by Downey up into the air then Salmon played a one-two with Stephenson but looked on as his header over Grainger smacked against the bar and was cleared. Approaching the last few minutes of the 90, Grainger spilled another free kick from Downey but recovered superbly to save the follow up effort from sub Lee Scott. In the second minute of time added on, Stevens completed the scoring with his second and Ashington’s third. Downey played the ball through for Scott whose shot was beaten away by Grainger with Stevens pouncing on the rebound to sweep home his fourth goal in three games.
*Before kick-off, players, officials and supporters observed a minutes silence as a mark of respect to John Colley, a founder member of Newcastle Benfield who died recently.
*On Saturday, Ashington are away to Penrith (3pm).