A second win in four days for Ashington after eight defeats
Two second half goals in quick succession from Andrew Bulford and Andrew Johnson secured a superb 2-1 victory for Ashington over Newton Aycliffe at Moore Lane on Tuesday night.
After weeks of disappointment and a run of eight successive defeats, maximum points from their last two games has consolidated a mid-table spot for the Colliers, who are hoping to finish the season with a flourish.
Overall they narrowly edged the contest, yet on chances Aycliffe were left to reflect on what might have been. None more so than home full back Stuart Banks.
Shortly after the interval he somehow missed the target with only keeper Conor Grant to beat, and within two minutes Bulford had fired the visitors in front.
Then, after a slick and scintillating second goal on the hour which was finished off in style by skipper Andrew Johnson, Banks saw red for a challenge on Kyle Downey.
The Colliers survived an early scare when in the third minute, a cross from the right by Jordan Laidler fell to the unmarked Matty Moffat. But the prolific striker, so often Ashington’s nemesis, uncharacteristically blazed his effort over.
Ashington’s first opportunity came in the 25th minute. James Taylor, returning for the first time to the ground where he sustained the injury which sidelined him for over a year, found Lee Scott with a measured free kick but the forward saw his shot pushed away by keeper Lewis Brass.
Minutes later the stopper held from a Johnson effort, then when play switched to the other end, Moffat found skipper Paul Garthwaite whose drive was fisted away by Grant.
Laidler then found himself in the clear but instead of shooting elected to roll the ball across to his left and the danger was cleared.
Ashington went ahead on 52 minutes. A cross from Scott caused confusion in the Aycliffe back line and when it fell to Bulford, the striker clipped the ball wide of Brass and into the roof of the net.
The Wansbeck side doubled their advantage with a superlative team goal on the hour.
The link up play between Kyle Oliver, Johnson and Scott was exquisite with Johnson cashing in to slot the ball wide of Brass.
Yet after Banks had gone for an early bath, the response from the ten men of Aycliffe was extraordinary as they poured forward and the Ashington defence were forced to work overtime to keep them at bay.
Grant held from Boagey, but after a blistering 35-yard free kick from James Harmison had flown narrowly wide, it was Boagey who gave his side a lifeline with quarter of an hour remaining.
Following a cross from the left, the ball fell to Boagey who beat Grant from 14 yards.
It was certainly game on, and four minutes, later after a scramble, it looked a formality for Ashley Coffey to equalise until Ryan Bell made a great block.
In the 83rd minute, and on the break, Damien Stevens who had only been on the field a mere 55 seconds, latched onto a through pass but after he had applied a good first touch, his effort was saved by Brass.
Yet again the home side rallied and after Garthwaite had struck an effort just over, Coffey’s right footer struck the bar.
In the third minute of time added on, substitute Ben Harmison set up a great opening for Downey but he shot into the side-netting.
The two sides will meet again in a return fixture at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday, March 22.
On Friday night Ashington are away to Bishop Auckland.
Ashington: Grant, Christensen, Oliver, Taylor (Dunn 75), J Harmison, Bell, Downey, Dixon, Bulford (B Harmison 91), Scott (Stevens 83), Johnson. Subs not used: Gunn, Hall.