Ashington 6-2 Crook Town
Channon North notched a superb hat-trick as Ashington began their FA Vase campaign with victory over Ebac Northern League second division outfit Crook Town at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday, writes Brian Bennett.
The score line points to an emphatic win – but until North completed his treble ten minutes into the second half which pushed his side into a 4-2 lead, that was certainly not the case.
The visitors – who took an early lead in the contest – were very much in the game with Joseph Smith prominent on the flank and striker Nathan Stephenson heavily involved.
And it was Stephenson who was on the mark to give his side the lead after only five minutes. Liam Armstrong lost out to Smith and the winger pulled the ball back for Stephenson to fire a low right footed drive from 12 yards across ‘keeper Conor Grant and inside the far corner.
Barely sixty seconds later, Stephenson took the ball wide of Grant but overran it and the visitors certainly gave the Wansbeck side plenty to think about. However two goals in a minute from North turned the game on its head.
The first in the 11th minute was the culmination of an excellent move down the right wing involving a one-two between Lee McAndrew and Sam Norris and when the former crossed, North left ‘keeper Philip Pentony rooted to the spot with a glancing header. Stephenson skied an effort over before Ryan Bell’s ball from the back led to North’s second. The tall striker headed the ball twice then determination saw him out-muscle a Crook defender before advancing and side footing wide of Pentony.
Still the glut of chances continued with debutant Chris Youldon somehow missing a sitter from the rebound after Pentony had initially thwarted Jack Butler then the stopper denied Norris. Grant held a shot from Stephenson before the visitors drew level with ten minutes of the half remaining.
An effort from Jonathan Hope smacked against the inside of Grant’s left hand post and rolled across for Andrew Lonsdale – standing in acres of space - to net with ease. Either side of the interval, Smith crossed for Phillip Caley who fired over then an 18 yarder from Hope was parried by Grant.
However, Ashington took a stranglehold on proceedings with three excellently manufactured goals inside quarter of an hour. In the 52nd minute, Youldon’s excellent ball released Norris down the right and when he crossed, Butler rammed home at the far post from four yards.
Three minutes later, North completed his hat-trick sending a thumping header wide of Pentony after meeting a precision in-swinging corner from the right by Kyle Downey. Midway through the period, a scintillating four man move resulted in the Colliers going nap. Grant’s punch out was picked up by Butler who found Gerard Richardson and when the substitute played a lovely weighted pass through for Norris, the winger coolly slipped the ball wide of the advancing Pentony and into the net from just inside the area.
Downey went close with a cross shot then a move involving Richardson and David Edwards set up a chance for Butler whose left footer was held by Pentony. Even in the closing stages, Smith was causing problems and after seeing his header hit the side netting, another run by the number seven saw Ryan Bell clear off the line. But in the fourth minute of time added on, Ashington took their tally to six when Richardson headed gloriously home from another Downey corner.
*With the first round of the Vase taking place on Saturday October 13, it means Ashington’s away league clash against Dunston UTS will be rescheduled. Dunston also advanced on Saturday after beating Ryhope CW by a 2-0 scoreline.
*On Saturday, Ashington are at home to Shildon (3pm).