By Glen Robertson
Tom Hinchley scored one of the greatest goals in the club’s history as Newton Aycliffe saw off Ashington to move four points clear of the relegation zone.
The midfielder (pictured above) thundered in a half-volley from 45 yards as the Newtonians came from behind to beat the high-flying Colliers.
Ayciffe had fallen behind to Gareth Bainbridge’s 11th-minute strike but Danny Lambert equalised just after the half-hour mark, while the tireless Danny Earl saw a first-half penalty well saved by Karl Dryden.
Allan Oliver freshened up the side for their third game in five days. Martin Young, Sean Tarling and James Oliver were replaced by Josh Knox, Tom Hinchley and Stephen Gibson.
On a windy evening, Aycliffe started strongly with Hinchley being denied a far-post tap-in as Matthew Grieve brilliantly headed clear under his own crossbar, before Stuart Owen’s follow-up was blocked.
Then Owen crossed for Earl, whose header was directed straight at Dryden.
But the Colliers took the lead with their first attack. Marc Walton’s shot from the right was parried by Scott Pocklington and Bainbridge was on hand to tap in from a couple of yards out.
The Royal Blues responded well and went close three times in the next 15 minutes. First Paul Broom fired straight at Dryden when sent through by Earl, before the former Billingham Synthonia striker had a chance himself but couldn’t beat Dryden with his close-range header.
Then Earl got on the end of Pocklington’s clearance but sliced his shot over the bar.
But the leveller came in the 33rd minute. Hinchley received Broom’s pass and burst into the area and his cross found its way to Lambert who found the far corner with a looping shot that deceived Dryden.
The Colliers had their keeper to thank for keeping them level at the break. After Hinchley had struck the inside of the post from the edge of the area, the midfielder was brought down in the area with his next foray forward to earn a penalty.
Earl stepped up but his drilled effort to the keeper’s right was parried away by Dryden.
The second half was very-much wind affected, but not even the elements could stop Hinchley’s moment of magic in the 59th minute. With the ball bobbling – and Dryden off his line – the former Stockton Town man let fly with an audacious 45-yard shot into the wind that flew into the top corner.
Andrew Johnson went within inches of a leveller in the 80th minute as he crashed an effort off the bar from outside the box – Pocklington claimed that he had got a telling touch – and Darren Craddock reacted quickly to clear for a corner before Walton could tap in the rebound.
It was as close as the visitors came to a leveller and the final whistle was greeted with cheers by the Aycliffe support. Two more wins would secure a third campaign in the Northern League’s top flight.