North Shields 1-5 Ashington
Managerless Ashington produced the result of the day in the Ebac Northern League as they tore North Shields apart with an outstanding victory at the Daren Persson Stadium on Saturday, writes Brian Bennett.
A little over 36 hours after Steve Harmison had resigned along with the rest of his management team, the Colliers turned in their best performance of the season to silence a Robins outfit who before the start of play, led the current form guide with six consecutive victories and were only two points adrift of league leaders Morpeth Town.
Two-nil up and with Shields down to ten men after striker Lee Mason had been red carded, Ashington shrugged off a spell of home dominance before sealing their first league win over the Shieldsmen in North Tyneside for over 30 years.
Defenders Luke Salmon and skipper Craig Scott both got onto the score sheet to take the game away from the hosts then Ben Harmison struck a fifth in injury time.
The high flying Robins began well enough and after only 80 seconds, Dean Holmes latched onto a through ball but saw his shot superbly blocked by Ashington ‘keeper Conor Grant.
Ben Sampson had the first opportunity for the visitors in the fourth minute as he accepted a pass from Michael Chilton but lashed the ball over the bar.
Shields broke immediately from the goal kick and a cross by Holmes was deflected over his own goal frame by Shaun Bell.
Ashington grew into the contest and although chances were few, a run down the right flank by Lee McAndrew resulted in a cross which looked threatening until Joe Robson intervened to clear.
Dale Pearson fired over before the Colliers went ahead on the half hour. Pearson made inroads down the left flank and when he crossed, Chilton scored his first goal in Ashington colours with a glancing header which nestled inside the corner wide of ex Colliers ‘keeper Kyle Hayes. And eight minutes later, it was the same duo who combined to double their sides lead.
After being awarded a free kick 25 yards out, Chilton’s effort was parried away by Hayes but straight into the path of Pearson who side footed home left footed. Five minutes before the break, the Reds were reduced to ten men when Mason was sent off after a late tackle on Scott and Ashington could have increased their lead further in the final minute of the 45 when Chilton played the ball through for McAndrew but the midfielder was denied by Hayes, who saved with his legs.
Three minutes into the second period, Paul Robinson was sent tumbling by Grant in the area and after referee Michael Andrews had pointed to the spot, Gary Ormston sent Grant the wrong way from the resultant penalty.
It was certainly a case of ‘game on’ but Ashington - after withstanding some heavy pressure – gave themselves some breathing space midway through the period with a stunning third by Salmon which will surely be a contender for ‘goal of the season.’ Ben Sampson broke through the middle before slipping an inch perfect pass through for Salmon who from just inside the penalty area, executed an exquisite and disguised left footed chip over the advancing Hayes which lodged inside the far corner.
Ryan Carr headed over a corner from the right by James Luccock and Robinson had a shot blocked whilst at the other end Sampson was not far away with an effort from the edge of the area.
However in the 75th minute, Ashington moved into an unassailable 4-1 lead. Lewis Strafford floated over a free-kick from the right which was powerfully headed goalwards by Scott. Hayes repelled the effort but only back into the path of Scott who side footed in. Ashington were now rampant and after Hayes had palmed down a lob from fully 30 yards by Salmon and then denied substitute Callum Johnston, they went nap in the third minute of stoppage time.
The home stopper parried an effort by Johnston and Ben Harmison made no mistake with a superb finish, firmly despatching the rebound into the net from 14 yards on the half volley. *On Saturday, Ashington take on Hall Road Rangers at home in the next round of the Buildbase FA Vase (3pm).