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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Scoring draws, Christmas draws and drawing the crowds

Guisborough Town 2 – 2 Ashington

Two things have been central to Ashington as a settlement; coal and football. It was the football team who were forced to dig deep today in a keenly fought contest played in front of a crowd of more than two hundred.
A trip to Guisborough just about represents Ashington’s longest league trip this season. They have traveled further this season in the FA Cup, both in terms of distance and by navigating their way through each of the qualifying rounds to face Grimsby in the first round proper. Teams don’t get through to the First Round Proper through chance. Ashington are well drilled, well supported and well placed in the league table to move into the top half with games in hand over surrounding teams.

Christmas is a time for hangovers and on a cold day where the pitch just about shrugged off the effects of the morning frost, it was of interest to see whether Guisborough could overcome the disappointment of their midweek defeat at Shildon. The performance was excellent up in County Durham and we were left to rue missed chances in a game where we should have left with a least a point.

Guisborough were quick out of the blocks and in the early exchanges it became clear that I’Anson and Roberts would pose defensive headaches for the opposition. Roberts skipped past his marker on several occasions before sprinting clear of his marker in the mid-stages of the first half to sweep the ball into the bottom corner. Only minutes later the moment was almost replicated but as Roberts struck the ball towards the bottom corner the visiting keeper pulled off a stunning one-handed stop to keep the ball out and push it past the post. It was not all one way traffic and on two occasions Norton was required to pull off good saves with his hands and feet to deny Ashington an equalizer. However, the scores were soon level as Bell scored from close range to send the sides into the warmth of the dressing rooms as level as when they had departed them forty five minutes previously.

As the second half commenced it was almost as though the pattern of the first half was playing itself out again, just with the two sides shooting in the opposite direction. Much as in the first half it was the lively Roberts who proved to a thorn in the visitors’ sides. At times he appeared impossible to mark and was as slippery as the surface. Twice he peeled away from his marker and could have added two headed goals to his first half strike. Roberts did add to his tally and the goal he scored was perfectly worked as I’Anson cleverly fed the ball into his path and Roberts thumped the ball into the bottom corner.

At 2-1down and two thirds of the game having elapsed, Ashington began to press and prod the home defence in an attempt to prise open and fashion an opportunity. To add perfect symmetry to the first half, it was Bell once again who scored from close range to secure an Ashington point.

A crowd of 235 watched a closely fought, competitive game between two seemingly well matched sides. Ashington were well supported and I have to say that it was a pleasure to welcome them to the King George V ground. Their bench were fair-minded and their supporters were affable and pleasant. With a celebration of youth event in the clubhouse and the club's Christmas draw taking place today, the club was buzzing.

With their game at Dunston postponed, a number of Marske fans made the short journey to watch this game. They will no doubt make the same trip on Boxing Day. With the form that Marske are demonstrating there is every reason to think that we are in for a Christmas cracker.

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