Taylor goal gives Harmison a winning start as Ashington boss

A Glen Taylor goal booked Ashington a home tie against neighbours Bedlington Terriers or Guisborough in the quarter-finals of the Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup.

He notched the game’s only goal and all important winner in the second half at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday night.

The contest attracted a lot of hype and media attention following Steve Harmison’s appointment as manager, with the newly installed boss only having 48 hours to prepare for the showdown.

And although Ashington’s Marc Walton had a penalty saved early in the contest, it was a game of relatively few clear cut chances.

The Colliers could so easily have taken the lead in the fourth minute. Ben Christensen, handed the captain’s armband in the absence of skipper Andrew Johnson who is sidelined with a groin injury, swung over a cross from the right and after it was glanced on Walton lifted the ball fractionally over the bar.

However, in the 13th minute, the home side had a golden opportunity to go in front when Jordan Lavery caught Tony Stephenson on the ankle inside the area with Newcastle-based referee Will Finnie pointing to the spot.

Walton stepped up to take the penalty but saw his effort superbly pushed away by keeper Steve Richardson, diving to his right.

Ashington had a spring in their step and enjoyed the better of the opening period, but they were almost caught on the break in the 25th minute with home keeper Conor Grant called into the action to push around from Bishop’s forward Andrew Johnson.

Ashington, strengthened in the centre of defence by the signing of James Harmison from Bedlington, had the final chance of the half when Glen Taylor hooked the ball past Richardson following a ball played forward by Lance McGlen but it drifted wide.

Butler spurned an early opportunity in the second period for the visitors before Glen Taylor scored what proved to be the winner in the 55th minute.

Kyle Oliver whipped over an inviting cross from the right for Taylor who beat Richardson with a downward header from six yards.

Twenty minutes from time, Oliver had a shot parried by Richardson, who also denied Walton from the rebound, then a Tony Stephenson-Taylor inspired move ended with the former’s cross too far ahead of Walton.

Substitute Joe Moscrop cut inside but saw his shot clawed down by Richardson and Ashington’s slender lead made for a nerve jangling finale as Grant whipped the ball of Butler’s toes, then Harmison cleared an effort off the line.

However, on a night where temperatures plummeted to below zero, there was nevertheless a warm glow about Ashington’s energetic performance which saw them deservedly march on.

Ashington: Grant, Christensen, Davison, Oliver, Harmison, McGlen, Airey (Moscrop 60), Downey, Walton, G Taylor, Stephenson (Hayton 83). Subs not used: Webb, Watson, Barnard.

Attendance: 288.