Late winner secures three points for Ashington

Ashington FC's James Taylor. Picture by Ian Appleby - www.ianapplebyimages.com
Ashington FC's James Taylor. Picture by Ian Appleby - www.ianapplebyimages.com

New signing Andrew Bulford netted a late winner for Ashington over Durham City on Saturday in typical ‘Roy of the Rovers’ fashion.

With the scores locked at 2-2, the ex-Dunston UTS and South Shields striker drilled the ball home from just inside the penalty area in a frantic finale to the showdown to secure all three points for his side.

And the story gets even better as James Taylor returned to action after being sidelined for over a year and played a huge part in the goal.

Taylor was only included on the bench after the Colliers had been forced into a late change.

When skipper Andrew Johnson was forced to pull out of the line-up after suffering from with a back problem in the warm-up, Josh Gray slotted into the left side of midfield with Taylor taking over the number 16 shirt.

Taylor replaced Ollie Hotchkiss for the final quarter hour and with only four minutes of normal time remaining, charged through the middle before finding Bulford whose right footed effort rocketed into the net wide of keeper Thomas Flynn.

Once again conditions were to be play a significant part as a biting wind blew down the pitch and Durham, who had the advantage on their backs, were left to reflect on a spurned opportunity with only two and a half minutes gone on the clock.

Moussa Bakhti did the spadework down the left and when he crossed, a header from Thomas Golledge smacked against the bar with Harvey Saunders slicing over the rebound.

Ashington’s first threat came through Dylan Williamson who cut inside a defender then produced a right foot sizzler from 25 yards which flashed wide.

Gray had a shot held by Flynn following a Ben Harmison lay-off but four minutes before the interval Ashington opened the scoring with a bizarre goal.

Former Durham schemer Hotchkiss swung over a corner from the right and Michael Dixon’s right foot effort looked destined to go over the bar until the wind held it back and it dropped just under the bar. Flynn fisted the ball down but it fell to Williamson who netted from close range.

The Colliers had limited the home side to only a couple of chances and minutes later keeper Conor Grant was called into action, sprawling to his left to deny Saunders.

After the break, a 30 yarder from Gray was pushed around by Flynn then a header by Ben Harmison was deflected behind following a Kyle Downey cross from the right.

A driven centre from the left by Saunders flashed across the face of the visitors goal before Ross Wilkinson made a superb last ditch tackle to thwart Williamson.

The action in the final quarter, which included four goals, was pulsating. Durham drew level on 72 minutes when a corner on the right by Nicholas Allen fell to Richard Archer whose shot from the edge of the area beat the outstretched hand of Grant, diving to his left.

However, ten minutes later Ashington were back in front when Archer glanced the ball into his own net after a terrific in-swinging corner by Kyle Oliver.

The gallant hosts responded with a second equaliser five minutes from time when Saunders cut across from the left and planted a right foot shot home.

Incredibly, within a minute, there was one final twist when Taylor linked with Bulford and the prolific marksman marked his debut with the clincher.

On Saturday, February 6, Ashington are away to Guisborough then the Colliers are scheduled to make the short journey to face North Shields in their Techflow Group Northumberland Senior Cup quarter-final clash on Wednesday, February 10.

Ashington: Grant, Oliver, Weldon, Hotchkiss (Taylor 75), Christensen, Grieve, Williamson (Bulford 64), Dixon, Downey (Gunn 75), B Harmison, Gray. Subs not used: Scott, J Harmison.

Ashington’s midweek clash against neighbours Whitley Bay was a seven-goal thriller.

The Colliers sailed into a 4-0 lead by the interval as Dylan Williamson notched a hat-trick and Michael Dixon netted his first goal for the club.

After the break, Chris Youlden reduced the leeway then, after having a man sent off for a second yellow card, Whitley Bay had Ashington hanging on as strikes from Sam Norris and Youlden pegged the score back to 4-3.