Ashington were left to rue missed chances as they slipped to a sixth home league defeat on Saturday against high flying Consett at Woodhorn Lane, writes Brian Bennett.
The scoreline paints a convincing victory for the Steelmen who also completed a seasons double in the process but in a game of two halves, the Colliers ought to have gone in at the break with a far more convincing lead other than Craig Scott’s solitary tap in goal which arrived midway through.
The hosts had a great chance as early as the third minute when Dylan Williamson skipped past a defender which put him in the clear but with two team mates up in support in the middle, the winger opted to take on the opportunity himself and lashed the ball over.
On the quarter hour, Tony Stephenson wriggled through with a one-on-one chance but was foiled by ex Ashington ‘keeper Kyle Hayes, who saved with his legs.
The home side had probed from the off and Consett’s first semblance of a threat came when Michael Mackay dragged an effort wide.
Two minutes later, the Colliers went ahead. A left footed free-kick from Kyle Downey was touched around by Hayes and from Williamson’s low driven corner on the left, the ball found Scott who fired home from close range. Ashington continued to not only play some excellent football but also dominate the exchanges. Stephenson headed over after a cross from debutant Jake Turnbull then Scott and Williamson combined to set up Damien Stevens whose shot was blocked.
Hayes tipped over a restart from fully 30 yards from Downey then shortly before the interval, another great chance fell Ashington’s way when Stevens found Turnbull who was through but the newcomer was thwarted by Hayes.
The half represented the best spell of sustained football played by the Colliers under the management team of Steve Bowey and Gareth McAlindon – but how they were to pay a huge penalty for squandering those gilt edged chances.
Defensively, Ashington had nullified Consett’s potent strike force of Michael Sweet and Mackay keeping them quiet in the opening period – but things were to change so quickly. Skipper Scott had to withdraw at the break with a hamstring strain with Ben Christensen moving along the back four to centre half and substitute Lee McAndrew slotting in at full back. Six minutes in, the visitors served notice of their intent as Mackay’s header from a left wing cross clipped the post before the equaliser arrived in the 55th minute.
A shot cum cross hit with pace by Jordan Lavery was diverted home from eight yards by Sweet then a spectacular effort from 25 yards by Lavery sailed over the head of ‘keeper Conor Grant and thudded against the angle of post and crossbar with Mackay being snuffed out from the rebound opportunity.
In the 63rd minute, Consett went in front after a well worked move involving Craggs and Mackay with Sweet driving the ball wide of Grant and inside the far corner. However, the game changed completely inside a minute. Stevens got the better of Ryan McKinnon and went on to despatch a left footer which found the far corner of the net but the referee pulled play back penalising Stevens which infuriated the home outfit. Within seconds, Sweet had an opportunity to complete his hat-trick but was denied by the sprawling Grant.
Wayne Buchanan attempted to clear but the ball struck Mackay and went in to make it 3-1 and two minutes later, it was all over as Arjun Purewal headed in from a Craggs corner on the left. Sweet again missed out on a treble, shooting wide then substitute Josh Gray’s chip was headed off the line by Luke Salmon.
In the closing stages, Hayes pushed out from substitute Dale Pearson and also touched around a drive from the edge of the area from Stevens before in the 90th minute, a dangerous ball in by Pearson was cleared by the covering Purewal.
*On Saturday, Ashington are away Stockton (3pm) who booked their passage into the quarter finals of the Buildbase FA Vase following a 3-0 victory over Stourport Swifts at the weekend.