North Shields see off rivals Ashington
In their final home game of 2016, North Shields presented their supporters with some early Christmas joy as the Robins cemented their place at the top of Northern League table after comfortably seeing off Ashington 3-1.
Goals from Lee Mason, Dean Holmes and Ryan Carr also meant that Jon McDonald’s side would enter 2017 with an unbeaten home record in the first-half of their current league campaign.
Respectively, the tie is one of the easiest ties North Shields have played this season with Ashington very rarely threatening Kyle Hayes’ goal.
If the referee hadn’t of rewarded a second-half penalty for the away side, it would’ve been surprising if they had pulled one back.
With the Robins still holding their own at the top of the Northern League table, Wednesday presented them with a chance to put some pressure on South Shields ahead of their weekend tie at Washington.
McDonald’s men bossed proceedings from the start as they quickly settled in an attacking style - they were close to taking the lead in the first minute as Holmes’ cross was close to being turned home by the out-stretched Craig McFarlane.
Gary Ormston then nearly made it two goals in two games on eight minutes after a deflected shot fell into the path of the midfielder, though he unluckily poked the ball wide with the Ashington defender applying pressure.
McFarlane hit a strong effort at Connor Grant as he awkwardly parried the ball over the bar before Shields would eventually take the lead in the 19th minute.
Mason started and finished the move as his interchanged passing with Holmes saw the winger apply the killer pass as Mason rounded to the keeper to slot home.
The wide channels were proving to be an area that was hurting the Colliers, and it was through that route that the Robins would quickly double their lead two minutes later.
McFarlane picked out an unmarked Holmes as he side-footed the ball past Grant from just outside the box.
Shields continued to look a constant threat with Ashington keeper Grant the only person standing in the way of the home side from adding to their lead as he saved well from Mason.
Chances on goal began to lower as the half went on - North Shields were comfortable and had no reason to force their dominant possession. The away side was still yet to register a noticeable effort as the referee blew for half-time.
Shields must have erased any information that Colliers boss Steve Harmison fed to his players in the break as the hosts made it 3-0 straight after the restart through Ryan Carr.
Holmes accidental piece of skill still allowed him to keep the ball in his path - he then picked out Carr, who was on hand to flick the ball the ball into the back of the net.
Ashington could do nothing to stop the league leaders with their only outlet being long balls up to their target-man, Ben Harmison.
The hosts looked destined for a clean sheet but unfortunately the referee deemed that Jack Donnison had fouled Dan O’Reily, in which he rewarded a penalty. Harmison stepped up to send Hayes the wrong way on 71 minutes.
Harmison’s penalty did nothing to distract the home side as they went on to comfortably see out the game to send their fans home happy.
The Robins’ next home game isn’t until January 14, 2017, with two away ties at Newcastle Benfield (Boxing Day) and Washington (January 7).