Johnson sees red as Ashington end home campaign with a defeat

Ashington captain Andrew Johnson is sent off during their defeat against Newton Aycliffe. Picture by Ian Appleby -
Ashington captain Andrew Johnson is sent off during their defeat against Newton Aycliffe. Picture by Ian Appleby -

Ashington brought the curtain down on their home league programme with a first defeat at Woodhorn Lane since the new management team took over in early February.

They also had skipper Andrew Johnson sent off for the first time in his career with the Colliers.

He saw red for two yellow card offences inside a minute and was given his marching orders by referee Lindsey Robinson shortly after the visitors had regained the lead following a contentious penalty award.

But supporters were left frustrated as they saw little football played throughout the 90 minutes as the wind yet again ruined the game as a spectacle.

After Glen Taylor had cancelled out Jordan Laidler’s opener, Stuart Banks’ spot kick sealed the victory which consequently ensured the visitors safety in the Ebac Northern League first division.

But the heroics of keeper Nicholas Christodoulou in the first period should not be understated.

Kicking with the wind, Ashington, who went into the contest on the back of seven successive wins, created first in the third minute when a free kick from the left by Johnson swerved in flight and was touched over by the stopper.

Mark Stephenson then headed the ball off the line following an in-swinging corner on the left by Kyle Oliver before Wayne Buchanan snuffed out Aycliffe’s first threat when he intercepted a cross by Laidler at the near post.

On 19 minutes, a throw-in by Brad Brooking led to Taylor’s header crashing back into play from the bar.

Then Johnson got to the byline and laid the ball low into the path of Taylor whose effort was also hacked away from near the goal line.

The home side were stunned in the 25th minute when the visitors took the lead through Laidler.

Awarded a free kick 20 yards out, the striker unleashed a low right footed effort which beat the wall and keeper Conor Grant.

The effort was a replica of Laidler’s set piece in the 3-0 victory against the Colliers in mid-January.

On the half hour, Christodoulou preserved his side’s lead with a stunning reaction save. He was challenged by Taylor and went to ground and when the ball ran free, Tony Stephenson’s shot was glanced on by Taylor with the keeper somehow recovering to keep the ball out.

Minutes before the interval, Buchanan headed wide a Kyle Downey free kick.

After the break, Liam Henderson had a shot from range held by Grant and seconds later Johnson and Stephenson combined but Brooking was stretching to make contact and his weak header was taken by Christodoulou.

Steve Harmison threw Dylan Armstrong into the fray in the 74th minute and four minutes later the substitute played a huge part as Ashington drew level.

He slipped the ball through the middle for the on-running Taylor who was clean through, and the striker took a touch then at the same time as he struck his right footer, Stephenson made a great last ditch tackle and the ball ballooned into the air over Christodoulou, bounced then spun into the roof of the net.

Grant denied Banks but in the 81st minute, when Laidler latched onto a flick on and advanced into the area, Grant appeared to have got a hand on the ball ahead of the striker. However, he went to ground with referee Robinson pointing to the spot, and although Grant went the right way, he was beaten by Banks’ penalty.

Dissent followed by a foul resulted in Johnson seeing red, then Grant thwarted Banks before the final whistle sparked jubilant scenes for the visitors in the knowledge that they had secured first division football next season.

Ashington: Grant, McGlen (Armstrong 74), Brooking, Christensen, Harmison, Buchanan, Oliver, Downey, Stephenson, G Taylor, Johnson. Subs not used: Smith, Dunn, Robson, Barnard.

Attendance: 274.