Ashington 0 Darlington 1

Steven Johnson was the hero after scoring the only goal of the game to give Darlington victory at Ashington.

The striker came off the bench to score his tenth goal of the season, prodding home from close-range in the 71st minute to give Quakers an 11th successive win.

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It had been a tough game, though, for Darlington who struggled to break down Ashington on what was a bumpy playing surface and did not allow for passing football.

That led to Quakers playing directly, but the only save Colliers’ keeper Karl Dryden had to make before the break was from David Dowson.

The game opened up slightly in the second half, but again Dryden was rarely tested, and neither was Quakers keeper Mark Bell.

In front of him, Darlington’s defence was formidable as ever with both Gary Brown and Joe Tait enjoying solid games.

With time ticking away, manager Martin Gray made changes, sending on Johnson and Kerry Hedley and the pair were heavily involved as Quakers got the goal they needed.

They attacked on the counter and when the ball fell to Dowson, on the left, he fed Hedley whose shot was tipped on to the post by Dryden, but Johnson was on hand to tap home the rebound.

The result maintains the team’s 23-point gap ahead of Spennymoor Town, who have eight games in hand, and needed a last-minute penalty to defeat Sunderland RCA 2-1.

Quakers are next in action on Wednesday at Heritage Park against Celtic Nation (7.45pm). Kick-off has been out back 15 minutes at the request of the Cumbrian club.

Goals: Johnson (71, 0-1)

Bookings: Grieve (28, foul); Brown (33, foul); Johnson (84, foul)

Referee: Kevin Mulraine (Teesside)

Attendance: 906

Ashington: Dryden, Grieve, Dobby, Antony, Atkin, Scott (Bolton 85), Godsmark (Bainbridge 68), J Taylor, Walton, G Taylor, Johnson. Subs (not used): Moscrop, Slaughter

Darlington: Bell; Harrison, Brown, Tait, Scott; Emms (Hedley 67), Galbraith, Davis, Nicholls (Johnson 52); Dowson, Thompson (Richardson 89). Subs (not used): Turns (gk), Lowes