By Mark Fitton
Ashington travelled to Shildon desperately looking for a performance after Tuesday night’s drubbing at Consett and an unceremonious exit from the FA Cup Saturday past. Last season’s champions have had no such problems hitting six in each of their last competitive games with only one in response.
The Colliers, alive to the challenge in front of them started with a cautious formation with Bulford alone up top, clearly looking to stifle the hosts.
It was Shildon though who had the early opportunities with their first real chance coming after only four minutes. Bell got the ball on the right of the penalty box dangerously putting a ball into the centre but it was well cleared by Blandford. Two minutes later Grant had to be at his best when Rae shuffled clear of the defence and had his shot parried for a corner.
On ten minutes Ashington themselves had a chance to go in front. Newly signed winger Harrison Scott hit a beautifully weighted pass which evaded the Shildon Captain Moore and was met by Bulford. He took the ball in his stride but fired agonisingly wide.
After seventeen minutes Shildon deservedly took the lead. A foul was given in an inconspicuous location thirty five yards from goal. Lewis Wing stepped up and powered the free kick high over the wall and past a helpless Grant in the Collier goal.
Shildon doubled their lead on twenty three minutes with a well worked move finished off by Greulich-Smith. Ferguson took the ball on the right and chipped a ball into the box. The ball was met by Rae who deftly headed down for the Shildon frontman to smash past Grant on the half volley.
Shildon remained on top and almost grabbed a third from an almost identical position to their first. On twenty seven minutes another free kick was conceded and again Wing stepped up. He hit the ball with venom but it went just wide of the goal.
On thirty four minutes again Shildon looked to grab a third. Ferguson waltzed through the Ashington defence and hit a low shot just inches wide of the left post.
The second half began much as the first. Straight from the kick off Rae almost grabbed a goal shooting wide under pressure from Harmison.
On Forty nine minutes Ashington had a chance to reduce the deficit. Bulford found himself in space and when he was found by Downey had his strike deflected wide for a corner. From the corner Blandford was found free in the box but could only head wide.
Ashington began to get more of the ball but in truth did not threaten the Shildon goal.
On seventy nine minutes Shildon sprung back into life with Connor Grant on top of his game to deny Wood.
On eighty minutes Shildon grabbed their third of the game and ended any faint hopes of an Ashington comeback. Another cross came in from the right and the ball was powered past Connor Grant by Paul Connor.
As the game petered out, Shildon once again had the ball in the back of the net, but were denied by the officials who deemed the goal offside.
In truth this was a better performance by Ashington but one which never looked like winning any points. Three games in have seen an early exit from the FA Cup and in the league ten goals without reply. For the Colliers a win is desperately needed and we must do better.
Shildon: Liversedge, Hodgson, Robson, Dodds, Moore, Groves, Bell (Jones), Ferguson, Rae (Wood 58), Wing, Greulich-Smith (Connor)
Ashington: Grant, Henderson, Salmon, Blandford, Harmison, Buchanan, Scott, Gunn (Sampson), Downey, Bulford (Stevens 58), McAndrew