Injury time Ashington goal sees Whitley Bay lose unbeaten home record

Whitley Bay's Adam Shanks.
Whitley Bay's Adam Shanks.

Whitley Bay conceded a goal four minutes into injury time as they suffered a home defeat to Ashington on Tuesday night.

Despite taking the lead midway through the second half of the derby game, Bay succumbed to a late fightback by Ashington.

The first half was evenly contested with both sides creating chances but unable to capitalise.

With six minutes gone, Mark Bertram had a low shot blocked following a left wing corner while ex-Collier Michael Bell saw an attempt deflected and then saved.

At the other end, Andrew Johnson got a shot on target but Dan Gladstone made a comfortable save.

With ten minutes on the clock, Alex Kempster headed narrowly wide from Bertram’s right wing corner, but shortly afterwards the visitors were forced in to a change when defender Paul Weldon hobbled off and was unable to continue.

Johnson again posed a threat down the Ashington left but the skipper’s shot failed to trouble Gladstone, who shortly afterwards punched a free kick clear following a foul by Gibson 25 yards from goal.

Former Bay FA Vase winner Chris Moore made a good run down the right in the 38th minute before delivering a cross that was headed narrowly wide by Kyle Oliver.

Within a minute Liam Hudson and Adam Shanks combined to set up a chance for Kempster, whose shot was pushed wide by keeper Conor Grant.

Just before the interval, a bouncing ball inside the Colliers’ penalty area caused confusion among the visiting defenders and Shanks got a foot to the ball but poked it wide.

Gladstone then made a fine save to ensure that the sides went in all square at the interval.

Ashington started much the stronger after the break, quickly forcing a series of corners, and after Kyle Downey had an attempt saved, Johnson drove a shot across the face of goal and beyond the far post.

Whitley were struggling to take a grip on proceedings in midfield with too many players performing below their best.

It took them 16 minutes to create their first real chance of the half and it should have seen them break the deadlock, but after Hudson, out on the right, had played the perfect ball behind the Ashington defence, Shanks side-footed wide of a gaping goal.

At the other end, Oliver turned and fired in a shot that was also wide of the target, but then with 65 minutes played Whitley went ahead, somewhat against the run of play.

Following good approach work from McDonald, Hughes crossed from the left and Shanks rose above the Ashington defence to head home his 19th goal of the season.

The goal gave Whitley a real lift and they looked capable of extending their lead as they pushed the visitors back into defence.

McDonald’s tantalising deep cross from the left seemed to bamboozle the Colliers defence, flying beyond Grant and only just past the back post.

Ashington came back into the game and were having the greater share of possession but without any end result, and with time beginning to run out, Whitley seemed to be edging towards victory.

However, a defensive mistake by Michael Laws 11 minutes from time gifted Steve Harmison’s men an equaliser.

The Bay captain made a loose clearance, playing the ball from near the right touch line across to a crowded midfield rather than to safety down the wing. Downey seized his chance and drove the ball across Gladstone into the bottom corner of the net.

The momentum was with Ashington and barely a minute later Michael Dixon curled a shot inches past the post.

It had been a well contested game played in good spirits, but a brief flare-up inside the Bay half ended with three players cautioned, two from the visitors along with Bay’s Kris Hughes.

Whitley were defending in depth and the result was that whenever they attempted to clear the ball downfield they immediately gave possession back to Ashington and put the pressure back on themselves.

Five minutes from time, Hudson received the ball from Shanks but blazed his shot high and wide.

That was a brief respite for the Bay defence as Ashington pushed forward in search of a winner.

Deep into stoppage time, and just when it looked as if the points would be shared, Johnson curled a shot just inside the near post from 16 yards to give his side a last gasp victory and end Whitley’s unbeaten home league record.

Whitley Bay: Gladstone, Gibson (Bramley 71), McDonald, Bell, Laws, Flynn, Hudson, Bertram, Shanks, Hughes, Kempster.