By Andrew McDonnell
Dan Wilson’s scored a hat-trick in the first-half as Blyth AFC edged past Ashington 4-3 in the first game of the new season at Woodhorn Lane.
Chris Bannon saved Kyle Downey’s penalty after three minutes and the visitors went ahead through Bobby Taylor 10 minutes later.
Wilson’s three goals came inside nine first-half minutes with his first doubling Blyth’s lead on 21 minutes and his third making it 4-0 on the half-hour mark.
Gerard Richardson pulled a goal back on 53 minutes and the Colliers were right back in it after Damien Stevens slotted a penalty home.
Richardson’s second on 90 minutes made it a nervous finish, but the Braves held out for their first three points of the season.
Jon McDonald and Ian Skinner brought in five of the new signings into the starting line-up, with Craig McFarlane, Jack Walker, Adam Forster, Curtis Coppen and Dylan Williamson were all making their competitive debuts.
The Colliers had a chance to go ahead after just two minutes when Kyle Oliver brought down Zak Atkinson in the penalty area.
Bannon produced a brilliant low save to keep out Downey’s penalty and keep the game goalless.
Ashington were certainly the better team in the opening exchanges, but the Braves went ahead against the run of play on 13 minutes.
McFarlane’s diagonal pass, from inside his own half, was brought down by Taylor, who then lobbed the ball over the approaching ‘keeper and into the net.
Atkinson’s low effort was kept out two minutes later and the visitors then went on to double their lead on 21 minutes.
Taylor’s through ball to Robinson was cut-out by Conor Grant, who pushed the ball away, but Wilson struck the rebound home.
Four minutes later, Robinson’s cross, from the right, was headed on by Liam Gillesphey and Wilson guided the ball just over the bar from close range.
The striker was in among the action once again, under a minute later. Taylor’s cross was played across the box first time by Williamson and Wilson powered the ball home from close range.
Taylor forced Grant into a great save and Oliver was also denied before the Braves scored their fourth goal with just half-an-hour played.
Taylor skipped past the full-back with ease and squared the ball across to Wilson, who tapped home to wrap up his hat-trick.
Things could’ve got worse for the hosts, with Robinson firing inches wide shortly after, while the half concluded with Downey striking a free-kick over the wall.
Ashington came out rejuvenated after half-time and pulled a goal back on 53 minutes as Richardson struck low, into the bottom corner.
Wilson’s effort on 58 minutes went inches wide of Grant’s post, but the Colliers had a chance to pull another goal back when McFarlane brought down Stevens in the area.
The striker, who had a short spell with the Braves last season, stepped up and rifled home the penalty and the hosts had a new-found belief about themselves.
Ryan Bell and Stevens were both denied by Bannon, but the Colliers did find a third goal and ensured that it was a nervous final few minutes.
Steve Bowey’s corner was headed home by Richardson at the near post on 90 minutes and there was still four minutes of additional time to play.
David Robinson’s curling effort whipped across Grant’s goal and just wide, but Blyth did manage to hold out and pick up their first three points of the season.
Ashington: Grant, McAndrew (Stevens, 50), Hornsby, Bell, Christensen, Vipond, Downey (Turnbull, 50), Henderson, Atkinson, Wade (Bowey, 69), Richardson
Subs Not Used: North, Armstrong
Blyth AFC: Bannon, McFarlane, Walker, Forster, Coppen, Oliver (Rundle, 69), Taylor, Gillesphey, Wilson (Hudson, 76), Robinson, Williamson (McRoberts, 72)
Subs Not Used: Chilton, Fenton
Goals: 0-1, 13 min, Taylor; 0-2, 21 min, Wilson; 0-3, 26 min, Wilson; 0-4, 30 min, Wilson; 1-4, 53 min, Richardson; 2-4, 61 min, Stevens (Pen); 3-4, 90 min, Richardson
Referee: Stephen Dial
Assistants: David Fittes and Connor Scott
Photo: Chris Chambers/CJC Photo