MARC Walton fired his second hat-trick of the season and Andrew Johnson bagged a brace as Ashington went on a goals feast against Durham City at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.
The avalanche of goal served a double meaning for manager Gary Middleton and his assistant Neil Winskill.
In the case of the former, it was the perfect pick-me-up tonic as he continues his recuperation after having contacted viral meningitis.
On the other hand, it provided a great send off for Winskill as he said his farewells before taking up an a new role with the Newcastle Academy.
The Citizens, who returned to the Ebac Northern League during the summer after stepping down from the Evostik League,clawed their way back into the contest to level at 1-1, but then did not know what hit them as a rampant Ashington side went goal crazy – and should have had even more.
Yet it was the visitors who posed the first threat as they immediately came out of the blocks from the first whistle.
Inside 24 seconds they broke down the right and when Elliot Cutts pulled the ball back, it required a superb intervention by Gareth Williams to block Jack Pounder.
Ashington put together their opening move in the fifth minute when Callum Little burst through down the left and after Louis Storey had been involved, his cross found Johnson but the ball got under his feet and his weak effort was easy for keeper Rhys Jobling.
The Colliers took the lead in the tenth minute with the aid of an assist.
Little again fed Johnson in the inside left channel with the striker’s effort taking a huge deflection off a defender before rolling into the net.
Home stopper Karl Dryden fisted out a shot from Pounder, but on the quarter hour, Durham equalised when a ball played to the far post saw Gary Shaw head into the roof of the net from three yards.
The scores were only level for a mere three minutes.
Liam Atkin’s searching pass down the right found the pacey Johnson who neatly wriggled inside a defender and when he crossed low Mark O’Dea netted his first goal of the campaign, stabbing in from close range.
Little went close before an all action first quarter of the game ended with the Colliers going into a 3-1 lead from the penalty spot.
Paul Antony’s sweetly struck pass carved open the visitors defence and found Storey down the right and when the midfielder cut inside the area, he was upended by Max Stoker.
Walton, pictured, duly despatched the resultant spot kick driving wide of Jobling.
To their credit, Durham never threw the towel in and minutes before the interval, Pounder was lining up a drive but was denied by another great block, on this occasion by Craig Scott.
Williams snuffed out the danger early in the second half from Pounder – and within 40 seconds, Walton had added his second to stretch the lead to 4-1.
Johnson posed the threat down the right, cutting along the by-line before rolling the ball back for Walton who struck home inside the bottom corner without having to break stride.
Walton was thwarted by a brilliant tackle inside the area by Andrew Brown – but there was no denying the striker who completed his hat-trick in the 64th minute.
He initially played the ball through for Johnson, who was foiled by Jobling, but when the ball ran loose, Walton drove in the rebound from the edge of the box.
Dryden performed wonders with a magnificent double save to keep out Scott Fenwick and Conor Winter, then the tireless Johnson took on a pass from Walton to round Jobling and a defender only to see his eventual shot held by the keeper.
However with 20 minutes remaining, Johnson got his second.
New signing Chris Bell had only been on the field eight minutes when he slotted the ball through for Johnson, who advanced then let fly with a venomous right footed low drive from 16 yards which flew inside the near post.
Six minutes later, Durham grabbed a second when Pounder squeezed a header just inside the upright, wide of Dryden after connecting with a right wing cross from Rufus Ayre.
Bell had figured strongly since his introduction but there was to be no debut goal.
He cut inside two defenders and unleashed a right footer which went just wide with Jobling scampering across his line.
On Saturday Ashington are at home to division one newcomers Team Northumbria before the Colliers travel to face Hebburn Town – another club who were promoted last term – on Tuesday, September 25.
Meanwhile, non league football is mourning the passing of one of its servants, Peter Flaherty.
Ashington: Dryden, Williams, Scott, Antony, Atkin, Dobby, Storey, O’Dea, Walton (Benjamin 70 mins), Johnson (Bainbridge 70 mins), Little (Bell 62 mins). Sub not used: Dugdale.
Flaherty was a former manager of North Shields, Whitley Bay and Wallsend Town and was coach to Jackie Marks at Blyth Spartans.