SUBSTITUTE Louis Storey scored the winner as Ashington survived an opening day test against Billingham Synthonia at a sun-baked Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.
The Colliers were made to fight all the way for their win with their Teesside-based opponents making the homeward journey knowing that it could so easily have been a different story had they converted several gilt edged chances which came their way.
Ashington profited from Billingham’s inaccuracy to hit the target and after Marc Walton had put the Colliers ahead on the stroke of half-time, Storey’s well taken effort proved enough to take all three points after Shane Henry had earlier equalised.
The visitors ought to have got off to a flying start when inside two minutes skipper David Hillerby burst through unchallenged and set himself up, but with only keeper Karl Dryden to beat, he drove wide of the far post.
Ashington suffered a setback on six minutes when Andrew Dugdale went off injured, and seconds later sloppy play following a goal kick almost resulted in Henry making Ashington pay a heavy price, but again he fired off target.
The Wansbeck side’s first threat came in the ninth minute with James Taylor and Phil Cave linking down the left, and when the latter crossed into the area Storey’s header was grasped by Moody diving to his right.
Another marvellous opportunity passed Billingham by in the 18th minute when Chay Liddle put Henry through but the midfielder struck his effort wide.
Debutant Josh Gray headed wide before Ashington pieced together their best move in the 37th minute.
Paul Antony chipped the ball over for Gray who neatly cut inside but then lashed over from the angle of the six yards box.
Walton almost made Moody pay for a piece of slackness before the striker took a pass from Phill Bell to let fly with a left footer from 18 yards which the keeper finger tipped against the bar.
The breakjthrough came two minutes before half-time.
Craig Scott got possession and when he played the ball into Gray, the ex-Darlington man touched the ball on for Walton who made no mistake, driving into the far corner wide of Moody.
Andrew Jennings, who caused Ashington all sorts of problems when he was with Sunderland RCA last season, then cut inside to fire over.
Ten minutes into the second period Daniel McWilliams went close before Synners levelled on the hour.
Craig Gott swung a free kick from the right into the area where Henry rose at the far post to send a downward header which crept just inside the upright.
However, ten minutes later the Colliers regained the lead – through the impressive Storey, pictured.
Gray was heavily involved in the approach work, weaving into the area, and when he slipped the ball across, Storey applied the finishing touch with a left footed drive.
Ashington went in search of a third; Billingham for an equaliser – but the last 25 minutes failed to produce a clear cut opening.
Ashington: Dryden, Williams, Scott, Antony, Atkin, Dugdale (Storey 6 mins), Taylor, Gray (Little 85 mins), Walton (Dobby 79 mins), Bell, Cave.
In midweek, second half goals from Andrew Johnson and Phill Bell gave the Colliers a 2-1 win in their FA Cup extra preliminary round replay against Sunderland RCA who took the lead with a rasping drive from David Gordon.
Marc Walton missed an early second half penalty before Johnson and Bell both struck.
As a result, Ashington travel to Marske United on Saturday in the preliminary round.