Bay held for point by gritty Colliers

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Whitley Bay 1-1 Ashington

Whitley shared the points with their Northumbrian rivals Ashington in a closely contested game on a bitterly cold and windy afternoon.

Despite the conditions, this contest attracted by far the biggest Northern League crowd of the day, boosted by a group of Colliers fans who walked the 16 miles from Woodhorn Lane to Hillheads to raise funds for Prostate Cancer UK.

Whitley made a number of promising moves in the early stages, with balls being played through the Ashington defence but with slightly too much pace to allow the strikers to capitalise.

There were chances at both ends, but the deadlock was finally broken six minutes before half time and it followed a misunderstanding in the Ashington defence when the ball was not properly cleared and from the edge of the box Kieran Brannen’s powerful shot took a slight deflection and left Grant helpless as it flew into the net.

A second goal could have put the game beyond the visitors and in first few minutes after the interval that is just what Whitley threatened to do. A back pass put Grant under pressure and he was relieved to poke the ball wide of the advancing Taggart. Glen-Ravenhill’s free kick was taken by the keeper just as Taggart was again closing in. At the other end, an attempt by Youldon was parried by Bannon before Whitley responded and Brannen was brought down barely two feet outside the box as he burst through from midfield.

The Colliers survived the resultant free kick and just past the hour mark they drew level when Whitley conceded possession in midfield, substitute Sam Norris crossed from the right and the unmarked Zak Atkinson slotted the ball home.

The visitors had a moment of fortune four minutes later when Luke Salmon, playing against his former side, cut in from the left and when Taggart met the ball, it ricocheted off Grant and the Bay striker before rolling agonisingly just inches wide of the post.

It briefly looked as if Whitley might snatch a late victory when Brannen’s cross was drilled home by substitute Stephen Ramsey but the assistant’s flag had already been raised for offside.

Deep into stoppage time, Luke Taylor was sent off.