Johnson’s late winner sends Ashington through in FA Cup

Ashington FC captain Andrew Johnson. Picture by Ian Appleby -
Ashington FC captain Andrew Johnson. Picture by Ian Appleby -

Andrew Johnson scored a dramatic late winner to fire Ashington into the next round of the Emirates FA Cup.

Johnson, who due to a personal commitment could not confirm his availability until half an hour before the team bus pulled out of Woodhorn Lane at 4pm, also claimed two assists on a wet and rainy night at Throstle Nest.

His winner in Wednesday night’s replay came after Aran Basi looked to have set up extra time with a fantastic 84th minute equaliser to make it 2-2.

But the Colliers match-winner had other ideas.

Substitute Jonathyn Quinn found Johnson on the left and the Ashington skipper cut across the park and beat two challenges before unleashing a terrific right footer which screamed across keeper Jack Bentley and nestled inside the far corner.

The Wansbeck side, who had forced the replay following Dylan Williamson’s late leveller on Saturday, had made a dream start by taking the lead in the fifth minute.

And it was Williamson who was on the mark again. Two efforts from Brice Tiani had whistled wide but Johnson cut the home defence to shreds with a sensational run which began from the half way line. He advanced weaving past a couple of challenges and when his cross was only half cleared, Williamson lashed the loose ball into the net.

Cue an instant comeback with Albion asking all the questions.

Marcus Edwards spurned a great chance, stroking the ball wide on the run, but following incessant pressure it came as no surprise when Albion drew level in the 20th minute with a slick move.

Michael O’Brian passed to Danny Cunningham and when he crossed low, Edwards arriving at the far post had the simple task of ramming the ball home.

Bentley saved at the second attempt from Chris Moore then at the other end Basi’s shot was blocked by Conor Grant.

The Colliers rode the storm then had a spell of their own in the final ten minutes of the half.

Williamson blasted over then Johnson had two chipped efforts which dropped just over.

Sandwiched in-between, a free kick by Asif Hussain found Edwards whose header was somehow kept out by Grant.

Early in the second period, O’Brian went close then James Harmison made a vital interception to halt Cunningham.

However the visitors regained the lead in the 57th minute through Michael Bell.

Paul Dunn found Johnson down the left and when he cut inside a defender and crossed, Bell, who worked like a Trojan up front on his full debut, sent a downward header which spun over Bentley and into the net.

Within a minute, Grant was forced to push out a drive from Basi, but in the 63rd minute a low cross by Johnson just eluded Bell sliding in at the far post.

The home side came again and after Tiani had gone close, a shot by Basi cannoned off Ben Christensen and rolled gratefully into Grant’s hands.

Harmison intervened with another terrific block to stop Alex Cusack, but with six minutes left on the clock, Basi levelled with a world class strike.

He unleashed a left footer from outside the box which flew across Grant and under the angle of post and crossbar.

Grant saved with his chest from Edwards and Lewis Morgan placed a free header wide from a Hussain free kick before Johnson’s stunning effort put Ashington ahead for a third time.

The Colliers came through five added minutes without alarm and Albion’s exit was compounded by a red card for substitute Sam Bradley.

Ashington’s reward is a home tie in the preliminary round against Thackley on Saturday, August 29.

Ashington: Grant, Christensen, Atkin, Dunn, Harmison, Grieve, Moore, Blandford, Williamson (Quinn 75), Bell, Johnson. Subs not used: Race, Downey, Robson, Thompson.