Ashington 1-4 South Shields
South Shields came to Woodhorn Lane knowing that a win would be sufficient to see them win the title of the Ebac Northern League, writes Gary Bell.
Ashington meanwhile were looking to build on the decent performance that had seen them take a point from Marske the previous Saturday.
It was the home side that started the brighter, with Shields looking a little nervy, and with only two minutes on the clock Ashington could have taken the lead. A long throw from Luke Salmon was helped on by Ben Harmison to Andrew Bulford who spun and shot but his effort went just wide of the upright. When a Kyle Downey free kick was cleared for a corner the resulting kick by Paul Anthony saw James Harmison head just over.
Any nerves the visitors might have had however were quashed on ten minutes. The ball seemed to go out for an Ashington throw but the linesman ruled it to be a South Shields throw. The home defence were caught flat footed when the throw was quickly taken and David Foley reacted the quickest to break into the box on the right and his drive across the face of the goal nestled in the bottom corner.
Four minutes later Foley added his and Shields’ second when a hopeful through ball saw him race clear of the Ashington back line and as Connor Grant raced out of the Ashington goal the visiting striker coolly sidestepped the home keeper to fire into the empty net.
Shields were now in total control of the game and it wasn’t long before they had added a third. A lofted ball into the box caused confusion in the Ashington defence with Grant and Salmon getting in a tangle and when the ball fell to Michael Richardson he kept his nerve to chip the ball into the unguarded net.
Richardson almost extended the lead further when a through ball from Robert Briggs saw the Shields midfielder bearing down on goal but Grant was quick off his line to save low down to his right.
Ashington almost pulled one back not long before half time when a Kyle Downey free kick found Andrew Bulford but the striker’s bullet header was deflected wide when looking to have the visitors’ keeper beaten.
Ashington stated the second period brightly and were unlucky to see a shot by Ben Sampson well held by the keeper Liam Connell following a good run and cross from Henderson. Bulford then went close when he raced into the box to shoot across goal but just wide of the post. The Ashington striker then went closer still when a cross into the box was headed on by Ben Harmison and Bulford stabbed an effort inches wide from close range.
The visitors were struggling to pick up the pace of the second half and but for a Gavin Cogdon shot they had little to show for their efforts. At the other end Ben Harmison looked to have pulled one back when a Salmon cross was flicked on by the big Ashington striker but while his effort had beaten Connell the defender hooked the ball off the line to safety.
Ashington were not to be denied however on 38 minutes when a lofted pass from Ben Sampson fell to Ryan McGorrigan with his back to goal but the substitute reacted quickly to hook an effort over his head and over the onrushing Connell to drop over the line to reduce the deficit.
Ashington pushed on manfully to try and get back into the game however in injury time a corner was cleared and the visitors broke quickly. As Paul Anthony tried to control the ball he slipped allowing Cogdon to break into the box and fire past Grant into the roof of the net to seal the tie and the title for the visitors.
The final whistle brought scenes of celebration for the travelling South Shields support and they will now receive the EBAC Norther League Division One trophy in their final game of the season away to Guisborough at the weekend. For Ashington, they were left to rue defensive mistakes once again that have cost them dearly.
Ashington complete their league campaign at home to Jarrow Roofing this Saturday, 3.00 p.m. kick off at Woodhorn Lane.