Report by Billy Montague

Saturday 1st  December 2018
Ebac Northern League – First Division

Dunston made the trip to Woodhorn Lane in Ashington in search of three more points to maintain their
challenge at the top of the Ebac Northern League First Division. Another stern test was in prospect after several hours of heavy rain from early morning had put the game in doubt but on arrival it was clear that the playing surface was in good condition.

Scott Heslop, Tom Bexton and Dan Capewell returned to the starting line-up but the unfortunate Craig Scott missed out on playing against his former Club with a troublesome hamstring injury. Jordan Nellis also returned
and was included among the substitutes.

Grant, McAndrew, Hornsby (Malone), Henderson (Vispond), Caygill,Stephenson, Youldon (Cunningham), Ross, Atkinson, Richardson, Butler.Subs not used: Bowey, Smith.

Dunston UTS: Dryden, Marrs, Halliday, Stafford, Grant-Soulsby, Capewell, Bexton(Brooks), Pearson, Fitzpatrick, Heslop (Nellis), Elliott J.Sub not used: Elliott C, Haley, Jackson.

As the rain continued to fall, Dunston defied the weather to open brightly and went on the attack from the kick-off. After the early onslaught, Ashington broke out on 5 minutes and forced a right-wing corner but when Dan Halliday headed clear, Jack Elliott sped away at speed to make good ground before sending Scott Heslop through on goal. Home keeper Conor Grant raced from his goal to hack clear after he had taken up an intelligent starting position. In the 8th minute a suberb passing move between Liam Marrs and Mark Fitzpatrick released the overlapping Dan Halliday to move into the left of the box but his fiercely hit shot went the wrong side of the post and into the side netting.

As Dunston continued to press, Andrew Grant-Soulsby headed straight into the safe grasp of Grant but at the
other end, only a brilliant last-gasp tackle by Dan Capewell prevented Zak Atkinson from bursting through. On 17 minutes Jack Elliott made another brilliant run before setting up Mark Fitzpatrick but Grant left his line bravely to make a superb save. Just two minutes later the keeper repeated his heroics after Dan Halliday found
Scott Heslop whose goalbound effort was somehow parried away. In the 22nd minute Jake Stafford drove through the home defence only to see his pass to Heslop cut out at the last second to avoid a tap-in.

Dunston exterted further pressure and eventually took the lead when the referee judged that a defender had handled the ball to divert a Jake Stafford shot past the post. The keeper got his fingertips to the spot-kick by
Mark Fitzpatrick but couldn’t prevent the top-scorer form giving Dunston a deserved lead. 0 – 1.

There was no letting up by the visitors and they went close again on 27 minutes when Liam Marrs made a
great run before setting up Michael Pearson but his volley flew just past the angle with Grant beaten. Ashington threatened on 33 minutes when Jack Butler drew a foul on the edge of the box but the defensive wall stood firm to block Zak Atkinson’s powerful free-kick.

When Michael Pearson burst into the Ashington box in the 36th minute, only a magnificent last-ditch tackle by
Tony Stephenson averted the danger and two minutes later some clever play by Jake Stafford sent Jack Elliott clean through with Grant saving again.

Ashington goalkeeper Conor Grant continued to keep his side in the game as Dunston’s domination went on
and in the 42nd minute he denied Jack Elliott again when he raced out to parry his shot for a corner. Elliott took
the corner short to Jake Stafford who broke into the corner of the box before shooting across Grant but Lee
McAndrew cleared off the line. There was still time before the break for Grant to pull off another good save to
deny Mark Fitzpatrick and the last meaningful action of the half saw Ashington’s Karl Ross shoot wide from 25-yards after some good build-up play between Jack Butler and Zak Atkinson.

Half-Time Score:  Ashington  0   Dunston UTS  1

It would be difficult for Dunston to repeat the excellent performance of the first-half after the re-start but they
began in the same fashion and went agonisingly close on 48 minutes when Scott Heslop sent in a measured curling effort which Grant could only watch as it scraped past the angle. Ashington replied two minutes later as
Lee McAndrew turned back the clock to his days as a winger when he made a great run before sending over a tantallising cross which flew dangerously across the Dunston goal. In the 52nd minute Scott Heslop won a challenge on central-defender Shaun Henderson before racing clear and as he smashed a in low shot, Grant
left his line to make another wonderful save.

Two minutes later, a long Tom Bexton free-kick was headed on to Liam Marrs but his header was scrambled
for a corner. On 58 minutes Dan Halliday made good progress on the left and sent in a chest-high cross which Scott Heslop met to send a glancing header narrowly wide. After missing so many clear scoring chances, Dunston’s play became a little sloppy and Ashington started to gain in confidence. They went close on 66 minutes when the hard-working Zak Atkinson cut inside to tee up the onrushing Gerard Richardson but his firm effort from the edge of the box skidded past Karl Dryden’s right-hand post. Michael Pearson went close for Dunston in the 71st minute with a shot that just cleared the bar and then Mark Fitzpatrick burst through onto a clever Liam Brooks flicked header only to screw just wide of the goal.

On 81 minutes another chance to put the result beyond doubt arose when there was a scramble in the Ashington six-yard box but Grant bravely dropped to the feet of Jordan Nellis to smother. Ashington replied with a corner two minutes later but some strong defending meant that Zak Atkinson could only direct a tame header straight to Karl Dryden. In the 85th minute Dunston strung together a good move that culminated in some tricky footwork by Liam Brooks to create a shooting chance. His powerful low effort was defelected to Jordan Nellis who went past his marker before firing past Grant and just outside the far post.

Grant was beaten but maybe deserved his bit of luck because of the magnificent saves he had made previously to keep his side in the game. His efforts were almost rewarded in the 90th minute when his side produced a good attack on Dunston’s left with Zak Atkinson sending in a dipping 30-yard shot that struck the top of the crossbar and bounced to safety. Dunston were relieved to get away with this let-off and ensured that they held on for the four minutes of added-time.

Full-Time Score:  Ashington  0   Dunston UTS   1

Dunston’s Man of the Match:  Jake Stafford – Jake just shaded the award in a game where Dunston were superb for the majority of the time but let our standards slip in the later stages. We could have won by a comfortable margin but we failed to take some good chances and came up against a goalkeeper who turned in an inspired display. Ashington are a side who battle hard and they never gave up, even when they were under the cosh.

Dunston's Man of the match Jake Stafford.



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Attendance 238