Ashington A.F.C 2-1 West Auckland Town
West Auckland Town suffered a gut-wrenching defeat against Ashington following some mind-blowing refereeing Decisions at Woodhorn Lane.
Jamie Cobain’s shocking first half dismissal as well as a penalty overturned, a weak penalty given against and a sin bin for Alex Francis all unfolded in a chaotic Northern League Division One match.
Daniel Taggart gave Ashington the lead on 32 minutes before Tom Price equalised two minutes after the restart only for the Colliers to deliver a sucker punch courtesy of Callum Johnston’s spot-kick, to leave West in 12th.
Gary Forrest made three changes from Saturday’s opening day draw against Ryhope CW as Liam Hegarty, Chris Hunter and Francis replaced Daniel Mitton, Lewis Dodds and Ross Colquhoun.
Taggart created the first chance eight minutes in after a diagonal ball over the top found the forward, though he hesitantly squandered his effort as Mark Bell was quick to react with a convincing save.
West responded with a flurry of chances, the most notable – a dazzling run from Nathan Fisher was followed with an exquisite through ball in towards Adam Burnicle, who’s snapshot was well dealt with by Daniel Staples.
On 27 minutes, in questionable circumstances, Cobain was adjudged to have brought down Damien Stevens as referee Mark Ryan deemed it was a goal-scoring opportunity, showing the defender a straight red card, leaving West with a mountain to climb for the remainder of the contest.
From the resulting free-kick, Johnston saw his 30-yard strike expertly pushed round the right-hand post as Forrest’s side tried to weather the storm.
Taggart proved to be a menace in the first half and gave Ashington the lead following a crisp pass by Johnston before firing low past Bell from an acute angle to send the home supporters into a carnival mood.
Despite being down to ten men, West showed plenty of fighting spirit and Price restored hope two minutes of getting back underway as he instinctively slotted home the rebound after Fisher’s long-range effort was initially parried by Staples.
In a game full of drama, it wasn’t settling down as West thought they had been awarded a penalty shortly after they levelled proceedings though further frustration followed with the officials as it was soon overturned by the linesman, who raised his flag for offside.
On 65 minutes, Francis, who was later awarded a sin bin in protest for the eventual winner, meaning the player has to step off the field for 10 minutes, something which has now been included in all grassroots football, came inches away in sending Forrest’s side ahead, only to see his right-footed shot curl agonisingly wide of Staple’s goal.
More drama occurred in the 75th minute as Ian Skinner’s side were awarded a penalty for grappling in the box, which was seen all throughout the game, Johnston kept his cool to rifle home in the bottom right corner, inflicting West with their first defeat of the season albeit in controversial circumstances.
On Saturday afternoon, West are back in action at home against Bridlington Town in the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Qualifying round (15:00pm).
Ashington A.F.C – Staples, Gibson, Lancaster, Herron, Caines, Coppen (c), Johnston (O’Reilly, 88), Ross (Luke, 76), Taggart, Stevens (Downey, 66), Anderson
Subs not used – Price, McHugh
Goals – Taggart (32), Johnston (75, pen)
West Auckland – M. Bell, Hegarty, Price, Cobain (S/O, 27), Hunter, Mitchell, Francis, A. Bell (c) (Colquhoun, 90), Fisher, Purewal, Burnicle (Mitton, 29)
Subs not used – Hillerby, Dodds, Dowson
Goal – Price (47)
Referee – Mark Ryan
Attendance – 306
Report by Harry Connor Crowe