Bishop Auckland 3-3 Ashington
Striker-turned-defender Tony Stephenson was Ashington’s hero of the hour on Saturday, writes Brian Bennett.
His goal in the last minute of normal time secured a deserved draw for his side – their fourth from their last six league matches - after a six goal thriller against Bishop Auckland at Heritage Park.
Stephenson – handed a role in the back four less than an hour before kick-off – popped up in the right place at the right time to flick home Lee McAndrew’s free-kick much to the delight of the travelling army of fans.
On chances, Bishop Auckland were wasteful and ought to have had the game sewn up but in terms of possession, but Ashington were a match for their high flying opponents and were worthy of a share of the spoils.
In Conor Grant, they had a stopper who kept them in the game with some timely saves and up front Jack Butler was a threat to the home outfit throughout with his meandering runs. The pair were the stand out performers for the Colliers – but the other ten – including young Matthew Smith from the under 17’s team, who came on towards the end, all played their part in a commendable team performance.
Smith it was whose pace in the 90th minute saw him get to the ball ahead of Chris Salmon just outside the area resulting in the award of the free-kick which led to Stephenson’s last ditch equaliser.
Ashington trailed on three occasions Bishops went in front after 15 minutes, Shaun Ryder netting after a short corner.
The Colliers levelled in the 32nd minute with a drive from Butler but six minutes into the second period Bishops restored their lead when Salmon rifled in across Grant.
The visitors responded with Zak Atkinson levelling with a breathtaking header, but the joy was short-lived as two minutes later Bishops regained the lead after shoddy defending. Hoganson’s inviting corner on the right was met by Callum Munro who powered a header home from close range.
Salmon had a goal disallowed for Bishops before McAndrew and Stephenson conjured up Ashington’s dramatic equaliser.
*On Saturday, Ashington are at home to Dunston UTS.