Benfield’s bright and stylish new yellow away made its debut at a blustery Woodhorn Lane, where the players inside it singularly failed to tame the elements and were comprehensively outplayed by a passionate and spirited Colliers side, whose limited, direct football was more than a match for Benfield’s more cerebral approach. Indeed, this was probably the worst Benfield versus Ashington game since the dismal 0-0 at Sam Smith’s in April 2005.
Ashington began the game with the strong, gusting wind behind their backs, though twice in the opening minutes Paul Brayson came close to putting The Lions ahead. Firstly, a long punt forward that he took with his chest simply wouldn’t come down and Colliers keeper Adam McHugh gratefully grabbed the ball. Secondly, Brayson flicked a low Aiden Haley cross just too high at the near post. Peter Glen-Ravenhill accepted a Brayson backheel, but saw his shot almost blown backwards by the stiff breeze.
The game exploded on the half hour when Ashington took the lead in the most fortunate of circumstances. Andy Grainger’s strong save down to his right from a Dominic Price effort bounced against skipper Mark Turnbull’s shins and dribbled across the line apologetically. Stung into a response, Benfield equalised soon after when Brayson delightfully curled the ball round McHugh after accepting a superb flick from Cyril Giraud who had been fed in turn by Matty Wade. Unfortunately, parity was only short lived, as a suspiciously offside looking Damien Stevens tapped the ball home from close in. He almost made it 3-1 on the stroke of half time, but Grainger saved well when coming off his line to block.
Unfortunately, it got no better after the break as the visitors appeared sluggish and uninspired when looking for a way back into the game. Twice Andy Grainger was called into action to deny Stevens with tips round the post as Ashington substitute Daniel O’Reilly took control of the game, making it safe for the home side when firing a loose ball home from the edge of the area. In response, Benfield’s own Dennis Knight was a livewire for the visitors when he joined the fray on the hour, but despite a couple of decent chances for Brayson and Glen-Ravenhill, Ashington deservedly held on, bringing Benfield’s run of 5 successive wins at Woodhorn Lane to an end.