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Sunderland RCA

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Ashington AFC

Sat 1 Sep 2018 | Ebac Northern League Division One | Away

Stadium

Meadow Park

Attendance

91

Referee

Jack Gordon

Kick-Off

15:00

By Brian Bennett

Ashington went down to their fourth league defeat this season when Sunderland RCA deservedly claimed the spoils despite playing with ten men for 75 minutes. And afterwards, Colliers manager Steve Bowey – who was once again forced to ring the changes with players missing due to a variety of reasons – said that the performance wasn’t good enough and added that Saturday’s home clash against Whickham is a must-win game for the club:

“The chips are a little bit down and it’s about Gareth McAlindon (assistant manager) and myself to try to get the chips back up. I’m an enthusiastic person but at the end of the day the buck stops with me and that performance today - like others this season - wasn’t good enough. Now the Whickham game on Saturday is a must-win clash for us. We are going to get our thinking caps on, work harder and get it right on the training ground. We need a little bit of steel in the team and a few leaders. Wayne Buchanan’s injury (broken leg) was a massive blow for us losing our captain for the season. It’s a massive void and to be fair we haven’t managed to fill it if you look at the goals we have conceded. We need players who are prepared to run through a brick wall for this club and at the moment we are bit-part players and we have got to be together. Some harsh words were said in the changing room but it was the truth and I will not disguise that fact. I’m always honest with my players and hopefully they will take things on board. I’m hoping to have one or two players back in contention for Saturday and I’m also looking to add another couple to the squad. However, despite the way things are currently going, we have got to be optimistic and upbeat.”

Bowey should have seen his outfit take the lead in only the third minute at RCA’s Meadow Park. Tony Stephenson was clean through on goal but tried to place his effort from the edge of the area and home ‘keeper Andreas Kokoska saved diving to his right. The chance proved pivotal as barely sixty seconds later – and following their first attack upfield – the hosts went ahead following a corner on the left. When the ball came in, it was blocked inside the six yards area and when Ashington failed to clear, James Armstrong fired in from close range. In the 17th minute, the home side were reduced to ten men when Craig Hodgson was sent off. The midfielder challenged Shaun Vipond but caught the Ashington skipper on the forehead with his elbow and referee Jack Gordon brandished the red card.

Vipond was forced to leave the field and eventually returned after eight minutes with a bandage around his head. Despite the numerical disadvantage, RCA almost added to their lead in the 35th minute. Mark Davison and Michael Charlton linked down the right and when the ball found Armstrong, his effort was held by ‘keeper Conor Grant. It was shortly before half time when Ashington threatened when a dangerous looking cross from the left by Jermaine Francois was headed clear by Jordan Watson. Twenty seconds into the second half, Sam Norris found Lewis King but the full back’s effort went across the face of the home goal.

Two goals in three minutes by RCA not only strengthened their grip on proceedings but effectively put the game to bed. The first on 54 minutes saw Davison ghost in at the near post to connect with a cross from the right and direct a header just inside the upright. Then Liam Armstrong was caught out by the bounce of the ball which allowed Charlton to nip in, advance then drive wide of Grant. Ashington’s day was summed up midway through the half when a corner by Kyle Downey fell to Stephenson but he missed his connection. However in the second minute of stoppages, the Colliers pulled a consolation goal back. A shot by substitute Jake Cunningham was parried by Kokoska and Channon North slotted in the rebound.

Ashington: Grant, King, Armstrong, Vipond, Caygill, Bell, Norris, Downey, Stephenson (Bowey 71 minutes), Humphries (North 33 minutes), Francois (Cunningham 63 minutes)

Subs not used: McAndrew, Wade

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