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Ashington AFC

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Stockton Town

Sat 23 Mar 2019 | Ebac Northern League Division One | Home

Stadium

Woodhorn Lane

Attendance

305

Referee

Jack Gordon

Kick-Off

15:00

By Brian Bennett

It may be a well worn cliché that ‘one swallow doesn’t make a summer’ – but Ashington’s second win in 2019 against high flying Stockton Town at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday was a massive result as the end of the season closes in.

The fully merited win lifted the Colliers out of the bottom three - three points above Guisborough Town - who have two games in hand – and Whickham, but has given the Wansbeck side a new belief that they can steer clear of the drop zone even if it appears that only one side at most are going to be relegated into the Ebac Northern League’s second division.

Interim manager Ian Skinner began his rein with a 5-3 success over Guisborough back in January but has seen his side on a downward spiral which culminated in a recent run of seven defeats in eight matches. However on Saturday, it was like chalk and cheese as Skinner – who made six changes to the side which lost against Whitley Bay – saw his outfit dominate the first half and then have opportunities to put the game out of sight before nervously clinging on towards the end of the clash.

Two top drawer finishes from teenager Thomas Kalthoeber and a stunning free kick by club captain Wayne Buchanan had sent the Colliers in at the interval holding a 3-1 lead but when Stockton skipper Adam Nicholson cut the deficit back to 3-2 with 25 minutes of normal time remaining, it set up a cat and mouse type contest. Then after seven plus minutes of time added on, the final whistle sparked off joyous celebrations. Celebrations which despite a season to forget saw the Ashington lads once again receive a standing ovation from their fans in another excellent attendance – albeit boosted by a good following from their Teeside based visitors - which exceeded 300.

The Woodhorn Lane side bossed the play from the start and got their noses in front after only eight minutes. Ben Sampson sent over a delicious inviting cross from the right which had pace on it for Kalthoeber who planted a header beyond the fingertips of ‘keeper Michael Arthur into the top corner. The goal had the crowd on their feet – and on the quarter hour, they were standing again to acknowledge the second from Buchanan.

Kyle Downey – making a return to the line up after five months on the sidelines through injury – was fouled 25 yards out and Buchanan stepped forward to curl a brilliant right footer between the angle of post and crossbar. Home stopper Conor Grant easily held the visitors first shot on target from full back Peter Bulmer – but the ‘keeper was spared inside the next ten minutes as first Max Craggs struck the post from a free-kick then a Craggs instigated restart hit Nicholson, bounced off the inside of the woodwork and straight into the hands of a grateful Grant.

In the 36th minute, Channon North squandered a glorious opening to add a third when he latched onto a lovely pass from Shaun Henderson but in acres of space and with only Arthur to beat, he stroked the ball the wrong side of the post from the edge of the area. Stockton reduced the leeway in the 44th minute through skipper Nicholson.

Ashington failed to clear a corner and when the ball was played down the right hand side and into the area, Nicholson squeezed a crisp right footer between Grant and the near post. However, Ashington’s riposte was to restore their two goals advantage within sixty seconds. North headed on a free-kick by Buchanan and the ball dropped nicely to Kalthoeber who struck home on the volley from six yards wide into the bottom corner.

Early in the second half, Kalthoeber and North seemed destined to poke home the rebound after Arthur had spilled a shot from Karl Ross but somehow the ball stayed out then Sampson played a one-two with Downey but his shot was blocked by Arthur.

In the 64th minute, Nicholson headed home superbly from a diagonal cross to make it 3-2 then Kalthoeber laid the ball into the path of Downey who had a great chance but blazed wide. As the tension increased, substitute Jordan Robinson headed over; Grant held from Fred Woodhouse then Nicholson headed in from a Craggs free-kick but was flagged offside.

Still the openings continued. Craggs nodded over whilst at the other end, Henderson found Jay Hornsby and when he crossed, the unmarked Brandon Morrison had a clear opening but headed off target.

Then in the first minute of stoppage time, Ashington fans had their hearts in their mouths when Nicholson beat the advancing Grant to the ball – but his back header from six yards rolled wide.

Ashington: Grant, Sampson, Hornsby, Henderson, Buchanan, Coppen, Kalthoeber, Antony (Stansfield 23 minutes), North (Morrison 87 minutes), Ross, Downey (Hutchinson 80 minutes)

Subs not used: Robson, Turnbull

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