Two late goals put holders Ashington into Senior Cup sem-finals

Holders Ashington advanced into the semi-finals of the Northumberland Senior Cup after overcoming fellow Ebac Northern League first division side Newcastle Benfield 3-1 at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday night.

With the prospects of extra time looming as the scores were locked at 1-1, two goals in the closing 12 minutes from Darren Lough and Glen Taylor took the Colliers through.

But the win only came after a closely fought contest against a workmanlike Benfield side.

There were few chances in the early stages, the first falling to the visitors’ Michael Riley whose effort was fisted out by home keeper Karl Dryden.

Then at the other end, skipper Andrew Johnson’s drive was spilled by keeper Andrew Grainger and cleared.

However, in the 35th minute Ashington took the lead through Marc Walton.

James Taylor – who switched from a midfield role to centre back to replace the unavailable Ben Christensen – sparked off the move by finding Sam Norris on the right flank. The former Benfield winger made strides before whipping over a low cross into the feet of Walton who turned and fired right footed past Grainger.

Three minutes later Johnson’s pace saw him go through in the inside left channel but his strike from the edge of the area, although beating Grainger, thudded against the base of the post and was cleared to safety.

Paul Brayson was not far away for the visitors with a 20-yard free kick ten minutes after the break, then the striker was denied by Dryden with Chris Carr heading over from the resultant corner on the right.

On the hour it was Brayson who brought his side level. He latched onto a through ball down the left, beat the advancing Dryden and from a tight angle slotted into the far corner.

Johnson went close from the edge of the area then in the 78th minute Lough’s first goal of the campaign moved the Colliers into a 2-1 lead.

Scott Blandford pumped a free kick into the area from the left which saw Glen Taylor challenge Grainger, and when the ball broke, Walton’s goal bound effort was superbly blocked by Carr but Lough nonchalantly side-footed the rebound over a couple of defenders and into the roof of the net.

Three minutes from the end of normal time a classic strike from Glen Taylor not only gave the Colliers a two-goal cushion but effectively sealed the tie.

Substitute David Carson, who had looked lively since coming on for Norris just before the hour mark, played the ball across for Taylor, who teed himself up then gave Grainger no chance with a terrific left footed effort from 12 yards which crashed into the roof of the net.

Benfield player/manager Steve Bowey had a shot turned away by Dryden towards the end before Ashington celebrated what was a hard fought victory.

Ashington: Dryden, L Scott, Blandford, Oliver (Briggs 90 mins), C Scott, J Taylor, Norris (Carson 57 mins), Johnson, Walton (Downey 85 mins), G Taylor, Lough. Subs not used: McGorrigan, Barnard.

Attendance: 140.