Ashington and Blyth Spartans have to do it all again in a replay to see who will earn the right to meet Newcastle United Reserves in the final of the Techflow Northumberland Senior Cup at St James’ Park next month.
This after Spartans’ Dan Maguire got his side out of jail with a late equaliser to force a 2-2 draw at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday night.
Striker Maguire, who has had plenty of plaudits already this season, was again the toast of the Croft Park club as he took advantage of hesitancy in the Ashington rearguard to fire home five minutes from the end of extra time.
It was cruel luck as well as heartache on cup holders Ashington, who despite the difficult windy elements, had been marginally the better side and looked to have booked their place in the final with a goal shortly after his introduction by debutant Christopher Glass.
Gary Middleton’s side, who had been going through a poor run of form, suddenly snapped out of it and gave a spirited performance in front of a bumper crowd of 608.
Indeed, the home side had the first opportunity in the eighth minute.
Following a throw-in down the right by Lance McGlen, the ball was only half cleared to skipper Andrew Johnson whose right footer from the edge of the are flashed narrowly wide of Conor Grant’s post.
The pace of Maguire was a threat and in Blyth’s first raid it was a cross by the number nine which caused consternation until McGlen cleared.
Similarly in the 13th minute, Arran Wearmouth produced a piece of magic down the left flank and crossed but Maguire got his angles wrong and when challenged by Lee Scott he fired over.
Ben Christensen headed out a Robbie Dale free kick then when play switched immediately to the other end and James Taylor and Glen Taylor combined, but when the latter tried to put Sam Norris through, he was blocked out.
Dryden denied Maguire then Kyle Oliver found Norris on the right whose centre went across the face of goal.
A promising run by Dale was halted at one end – then Oliver was shut out in an almost identical move at the other.
However, three minutes after the break, the visitors took the lead through the impressive Maguire.
McGlen lost possession and Maguire took full advantage, advancing before drilling a low right footed shot from just inside the area between Dryden and his near post.
Marc Walton was not far away with a direct free kick from 25 yards – but the ex-Blyth forward was more accurate in the 55th minute when he struck the equaliser, latching onto a through pass to lob the ball over the advancing Grant from just inside the box.
Seconds earlier, and after a run down the left flank by Wearmouth, Maguire had laid the ball off for Craig Hubbard whose effort led to shouts for a penalty for handball which were turned down by referee Paul Curry.
Dale again saw a 25-yard free kick fly narrowly over before the Colliers – through Walton – had a great opportunity to go in front.
McGlen provided the pass but from 16 yards but Walton lashed the ball a foot over the bar on the half volley.
As the westerly wind began to whip up even stronger blowing down the ground, it was Spartans substitute Ash Davis who had the next opening.
Fellow substitute Paul Robinson found Matthew Wade who in turn passed to Davis who took a touch but fired wide.
Dryden kept out another shot from Davis on 85 minutes but only a brilliant parry by Grant denied Andrew Johnson on the volley at the other end just before the end of normal time.
In the first period of extra time, Ashington brought on new signing Glass for Norris – and two minutes later, the substitute marked his debut by nudging his side ahead.
The Colliers forced a corner on the left and from Johnson’s flag kick swung deep to the far post, Glass headed home from close range.
Walton had a stinging effort saved by Grant before the striker tried an audacious shot from the halfway line which was held up by the keeper.
Then with five minutes remaining, Spartans got an unlikely lifeline following hesitancy in the Colliers rearguard with Maguire seizing on the opportunity to steer the ball home.
No date has been set for the replay which will take place at Croft Park.
Ashington: Dryden, McGlen, L Scott, Oliver, J Taylor, Christensen, Norris (Glass 99), Johnson, Walton, G Taylor, Downey (Carr 75) sub not used: Barnard.
Blyth Spartans: Grant, Mullen, Watson, Buddle, Parker, Wade (Horner 90), Hubbard (Robinson 67), Wearmouth (Davis 75), Maguire, Hooks, Dale Subs not used: Kendrick, Purewal.