Johnson rescues late point for mediocre Ashington

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Skipper Andrew Johnson scored an equaliser five minutes into stoppage time as Ashington rescued at point at Crook Town on Saturday.

The Colliers’ point came in a mediocre performance against the managerless home outfit at the Sir Tom Cowie Millfield ground.

It had looked as if home substitute Scott Swanston’s sucker punch goal during the first half was going to be the decisive strike, and especially as keeper Ryan Graham had turned in an outstanding and unbelievable performance to continually thwart the visitors on his return to the side following suspension.

The Colliers exerted the early pressure with Johnson a constant threat.

A low cross from him drifted behind then a shot after five minutes was deflected for a corner.

In the 12th minute Johnson appeared to be tugged back by a defender but the referee turned down appeals, then a shot from Glen Taylor was parried by Graham and Kyle Oliver netted only for the effort to be disallowed for offside.

On the quarter hour, after link up play involving James Taylor and Glen Taylor, Johnson’s goal-bound drive was fisted away by Graham before Ashington were forced into a change with Stuart Elliott replacing the injured Craig Robson.

Home defender Paul Greenwell received a yellow card for chopping down Johnson outside the area, and from the resultant free kick on the left both Glen Taylor and James Novak were denied.

However on the half hour, Ashington lost possession and when Crook countered and raided down the left through Jason Brazauskas, his cross-shot went past Chris Bannon and was steered home at the far post by Swanston.

Before the break, Greenwell cleared off the line from Glen Taylor then on the hour a powder puff effort from Johnson was smothered by Graham.

Five minutes later, substitute Marc Walton’s cross to the far post was only half cleared and Glen Taylor looked a certain scorer from 12 yards until Graham saved in amazing fashion.

The keeper distinguished himself even more in the 73rd minute when he denied Glen Taylor from point blank range then Johnson, before in a rare attack, a half volley from Kalumn Holbrook was tipped over by Bannon.

Four minutes from the end of the 90, a forward pass from Richard Flynn found Johnson who could not believe his shot on the turn was held by Graham.

But in the 95th minute, the same Ashington duo combined to fashion a leveller.

Flynn headed the ball on to Johnson who smashed a terrific right foot volley past Graham from 14 yards.

Before play restarted, home skipper Chris Renshaw was red carded for dissent.

Ashington: Bannon, McGlen, Novak, Robson (Elliott 20), Flynn, Christensen, J Taylor (Downey 70), Slaughter, Oliver (Walton 58), G Taylor, Johnson. Sub not used: Barnard.

On Sunday, August 31, Ashington travel to play Albion Sports in the FA Cup then will meet local rivals and newly promoted North Shields on Wednesday, September 3, at the Daren Persson Stadium – unless a cup replay is required.