Ashington FC endure a nail-biting return to the Northern Premier League

Action from Ashington Town's game against Brighouse Town. Picture: Ian BrodieAction from Ashington Town's game against Brighouse Town. Picture: Ian Brodie
Action from Ashington Town's game against Brighouse Town. Picture: Ian Brodie
There were jubilant scenes on an historic day at Woodhorn Lane when two goals in second half stoppage time saw Ashington stage an amazing comeback to force a deserved 4-4 draw against Brighouse Town in their first game in the Northern Premier League for 55 years.

With 90 minutes gone on the clock, the Colliers were staring down the barrel of a 4-2 defeat and even when Charlie Exley reduced the arrears two minutes later to make it 4-3 it looked as if it was too little too late.

But then in the 97th minute and after a desperate last-ditch attack, Darren Lough drilled home the leveller.

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Before kick-off, players, officials and supporters held a minute’s applause in honour of Jackie Herron – captain of the Ashington team during the 1968-69 campaign – who sadly passed away recently.

It was the Wansbeck side that began the game the better of the two sides and in the seventh minute, Craig Spooner failed to get any real purchase on a left foot shot, with visiting keeper Harry Garman gathering the ball comfortably.

Five minutes later a cross from debutant Exley was headed back across goal by Cameron Gascoigne and Wilson Kneeshaw was denied by Alexander Phillipson, who produced a great tackle inside the six yard box.

Just past the quarter hour mark, Brighouse forced a corner on the left, the ball was recycled and when it was swung over into the danger zone, Samuel Drake ghosted in to nod down inside the post.

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The home side drew level in the 24th minute with a trademark free kick from Spooner into the top corner.

But Ashington’s Achilles heel of the afternoon was their woeful defending – and within three minutes they were behind again.

A corner on the right was headed back across the face of the goal where Jayden Major swept the ball home.

Ashington made inroads soon after the interval with Gascoigne going close; Dan Maguire lashing over, then Garman whipping the ball off Kneeshaw’s toes, whilst at the other end, home stopper Karl Dryden made a fine save to thwart Mohammad Qasim.

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In the 56th minute, Ashington got back on terms. Gascoigne found Spooner down the right flank and when he drove in a dangerous cross, Curtis Peters – under pressure from Kneeshaw – headed the ball into his own net.

However, the visitors went 4-2 in front after two further errors inside eight minutes by the Colliers.

On 70 minutes, there was ping-pong inside the six yard box following a corner which eventually resulted in Jamie Allsop blasting the ball in from close range.

Then an error by Kyle Errington saw substitute Myron Gibbons intercept the ball, drive forward and slot wide of Dryden.

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The frantic finale started in the last minute of normal time when substitute Mason Hardy had a shot held by Garman which was followed by Dryden blocking an effort from Gibbons.

Ashington raided again down the right and when substitute Scott Heslop laid the ball off, Exley hit a fierce shot into the bottom corner.

When Garman held a shot under the bar from sub Max Emmerson, supporters thought it was Ashington’s final chance.

Sixty seconds later, Lough lashed home the equaliser.

On Saturday (August 19), Ashington play Stockton Town in the Emirates FA Cup.

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