MARC Walton bagged another brace as Ashington returned to winning ways with a 3-0 win over Newcastle Benfield at a foggy Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday night.
In the end it was a comfortable victory over the Lions, who played for the final quarter of the game with ten men after defender David Coulson was sent off for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity when he hauled Andrew Dobbie down in the penalty area.
However, the Colliers certainly did not have it all their own way as they chalked up their first win in four outings – and no more so than from the start when they were forced to play second fiddle to the Sam Smiths Park outfit.
Perry Briggs’s side knocked the ball around well and with purpose for the opening 20 minutes until a quality piece of skill coupled to an exquisite finish from top scorer Walton turned the game.
Benfield ought to have edged ahead in the eighth minute when a pass was played through to ex-Colliers striker Stephen Young, but clear on goal he dragged a left foot effort wide of keeper Karl Dryden’s post.
Two minutes later, Ashington fashioned their first opening when Walton laid off a cross from Andrew Johnson but Glen Taylor’s side foot shot was easily held by Andrew Grainger.
Richard Slaughter fired wide then Sam Norris had a strike held by Dryden as Benfield pushed forward.
Conditions were difficult and Walton tried an audacious effort from all of 45 yards as he tried to catch Grainger unawares.
However, midway through the half, Grainger was left helpless as the Ashington forward broke the deadlock.
Johnson provided the assist in crossing to Walton who turned neatly then drove home left footed with unerring accuracy from 16 yards.
Shortly afterwards, Grainger saved with his legs to deny Johnson, then the Ashington player took the ball in his stride to fire wide with Grainger struggling.
Glen Taylor threaded a ball through the eye of a needle to find Johnson but he was halted by a vital challenge from a defender before James Taylor was narrowly off target with a chip from 25 yards.
The key moment of the game arrived midway through the second half with the visitors being reduced to ten men.
Dobbie charged through the centre into the penalty box and after pushing the ball past Coulson was sent sprawling by the defender.
Referee Paul Newhouse immediately pointed to the spot then sent Coulson off before Walton stepped up to send Grainger the wrong way as he blasted home the resultant penalty.
Within minutes, Walton had an opportunity to complete his hat-trick and take his season’s tally to 20 but he lifted his effort over the bar.
Ashington’s third finally arrived in the 72nd minute courtesy of James Taylor.
A diagonal ball from left to right by Darren Lough found him lurking just outside the area and after advancing, the midfielder drove across Grainger and inside the far post.
Benfield skipper Kevin Leighton defended superbly to intercept a cross by Dobbie which was intended for substitute Gareth Bainbridge and the final action saw sub Alex Benjamin – recently transferred from Ashington to the Saints – cross to Young who fired wide.
Ashington: Dryden, Grieve, Lough, Antony, Atkin, O’Dea, J Taylor (Storey 77 mins), Johnson, Walton, G Taylor (Bainbridge 75 mins), Dobbie (Bell 83 mins). Subs not used: Dugdale, Williams.