By Scott Messenger
Ashington slumped to a fourth straight defeat at home in all competitions on Tuesday night as high flying Consett won an entertaining game by the odd goal in five at Woodhorn Lane.
The Colliers came into the game off the back of a disappointing home defeat to Guisborough Town on Saturday, while visitors Consett had maintained their 100% winning start to the season by beating struggling Whickham by one goal to nil.
Ashington started brightly and after ten minutes Zak Atkinson's ball across goal was deflected just wide. From the resulting corner, the ball ended up at the feet of Vipond, but his delicate cross was headed inches wide by fellow defender Caygill.
In the 13th minute the visitors were ahead. Consett full-back Nicholas Green made his way down the right wing and his brilliant cross was superbly headed into the far corner of the net by striker Luke Carr to put the Steelmen 1-0 up.
Less than 5 minutes later Ashington were level. A great ball down the right flank found McAndrew in space and his low cross towards the near post was expertly flicked beyond the grasp of ex-Ashington goalkeeper Kyle Hayes by Zak Atkinson to make it 1-1.
Midway through the half Ashington went close to going in front when on-loan full-back Lewis King fired a thunderbolt of an effort just over Hayes' crossbar. The young defender from Conference side Spennymoor Town was very unlucky to see his 30-yard effort go just over the bar.
As the half wore on, Consett had a couple of half chances. Firstly a corner evaded everyone when only a touch would have resulted in a goal, before a goal mouth scramble saw an effort hacked off the line.
Just when it looked like the first half was going to end all square, the visitors retook the lead. Luke Carr made his way into the Ashington penalty area and his low effort found the back of Grant's net to make it 2-1. Shortly afterwards, the referee brought the first half to an end.
Consett, one of the favourites for the League and managed by former Ashington midfielder Chris Moore, began the second half brightly and missed a glorious opportunity to score a third just ten minutes after the restart. Striker Michael Sweet took the ball around 'keeper Conor Grant, but with goal gaping, he appeared to take too long to get his shot away and his effort was blocked on the line by a covering defender.
Consett didn't have too long to wait for a third goal and on the hour mark, the visitors extended their lead. Great build up play saw Carr in acres of space on the right of the Ashington box, and his ball across the face of goal was easily tapped into the net by skipper Daniel Craggs to extend the Steelman's lead to 3-1.
The away side continued to press and went close to extending their lead as Ashington took more risks in an attempt to get back in the game. Another goal mouth scramble following a good diving save from Grant ended up with the ball going inches past the Ashington post, before Consett somehow squandered a chance to score a fourth when a quick counter attack saw Sweet go through on goal. Despite being 2-on-1 against Colliers 'keeper Grant, Sweet overhit his pass to a team mate with the goal gaping, and the Ashington defence managed to re-group and clear the danger.
With 70 minutes on the clock, Ashington set up a grandstand finish when they pulled a goal back. After substitute Damien Stevens saw his header tipped over the bar by Hayes, the resulting in-swinging corner from the left was powerfully headed home from 6-yards by defender Glenn Caygill to setup a nervy last twenty minutes for the visitors.
Five minutes later, Grant did well to block Sweet's effort after he was played through on goal as Consett looked to restore their two goal lead.
In the 83rd minute Ashington went desperately close to finding an equaliser. A ball out of defence found Atkinson on the left and his first time pass put Stevens in on goal. With the ball bouncing and with Kyle Hayes advancing, Stevens attempted to lob the Consett goalkeeper, but unfortunately he saw his effort from the edge of the penalty area sail just over the crossbar.
Consett managed to see out the rest of the game to claim all three points. Unfortunately for Ashington, it was another case of losing a goal-fest by the odd goal. On Saturday (25th August) Ashington make the trip to Cumbria to face Penrith in Northern League Division 1 action. Kick off is at 3pm. The Collier's next home game is on Saturday September 8th when newly promoted Whickham make the trip to Woodhorn Lane for a 3pm kick off.
Ashington: Grant, King, Armstrong, Henderson (Norris), Caygill, Vipond, McAndrew (Stevens), Downey, Atkinson, Edwards, Cunningham (McCarthy)
Subs not used: North, Humphries.
Consett: Hayes, Green, Lavery (Holden), Slocombe, Purewal, Wilkinson, Craggs, Lawrence (Smith), Sweet, Carr, Mackay
Subs not used: Combe, Cassidy, McKinnon