Lack of fight sees Ashington out of FA Cup

Ashington defender Matty Grieve in an aerial battle with a Thackley forward. Picture by Ian Appleby -
Ashington defender Matty Grieve in an aerial battle with a Thackley forward. Picture by Ian Appleby -

Ashington’s interest in this season’s FA Cup came to a shuddering halt at Woodhorn Lane when they went out with a whimper in their preliminary round tie against Thackley.

The Colliers had worked hard to get to this stage after securing a last gasp 3-2 replay win against Albion Sports.

But on Saturday they lacked the same fighting spirit and were shown the exit door by their visitors from the North East Counties League.

Two quick-fire goals from Ben Cohen and Ryan Farrell just short of the hour mark put the Yorkshire side in the driving seat, and although Matty Grieve halved the deficit in the closing stages, it was too little too late.

As early as the second minute the visitors had an opening when Paul Whiteley got the benefit of a fortuitous ricochet off Paul Dunn and ventured forward, but his effort from 25 yards was easily dealt with by home keeper Conor Grant.

Yet Steve Harmison’s side should have been ahead by the interval.

Following a move down the left involving Andrew Johnson and Chris Moore, the latter crossed but Dylan Williamson delayed his shot and was blocked out.

Midway through the period, Moore returned a throw-in to Johnson who cut across from left to right but his right footed drive was held by keeper Tom Metcalfe.

However, in the midst of home dominance, what was to be the Colliers best chance of the half arrived in the 27th minute after Metcalfe had pushed out a header by Williamson. Scott Blandford’s powerful drive was blocked on the line; Michael Bell’s venomous effort rattled against the bar with Blandford spooning over the rebound.

On the half hour, a goal bound header from Bell was deflected over by Kristian Hargreaves then a forward ball by Ben Christensen was flicked on by Bell with Williamson just denied by Metcalfe.

In a rare attack, Mike Garrod was granted a free header at the far post from a Jerry White cross which was taken by Grant before in the dying minutes, Christensen and Johnson delivered great knocks into the area from either flank which went across the face.

Early in the second half, Ashington appeals for a handball in the area after a Bell effort had been blocked were turned aside before the hosts were left reeling by two Thackley strikes inside three minutes.

For the first, there was no danger after the ball had been played down the right flank. But Grieve tried to usher it out for a goal kick and when Garrod got the better of him and played the ball back to Ollie Moffit, his cross to Cohen saw the striker stab home wide of Grant.

And the situation got worse as Farrell pounced on a loose ball to lash just inside Grant’s left hand post to double Thackley’s advantage.

Ashington tried different permutations but it was the 86th minute before they found a way through. Substitute Jonathyn Quinn pumped the ball into the area and when Metcalfe fisted out, the ball fell to Grieve who lobbed it over the custodian from 16 yards on the half volley.

Then in the closing seconds, Johnson glanced on a Christensen cross from the right where James Harmison – thrust forward as a striker – volleyed agonisingly wide.

Ashington: Grant, Christensen, Atkin, Dunn (Downey 66), Harmison, Grieve, Moore, Blandford (Race 84), Williamson, Bell (Quinn 63), Johnson. Subs not used: Smith, Weldon.

Attendance: 236.

Ashington now face back to back away fixtures. On Saturday, September 5, they go to Dunston, then on Tuesday, September 8, travel to face Sunderland RCA.