Ashington (h) Northumberland Senior Cup Second Round
Half time: Magpies 0 Colliers 0
"I was really pleased for the
players. It's hard when we've got a very young team, and they (Ashington)
are older, bigger, stronger and more experienced.
On a chilly night that turned wet, the small crowd at the Northumberland FA's Whitley Park Park observed a minute's silence in memory of Gary Speed before kickoff, ahead of what proved to be a fairly even opening 45 minutes.
Clad in their orange change strip, Michael Richardson, Dan Taylor and Haris Vuckic all managed to get shots on target only for the Colliers defence to hold firm.
And an old adversary of United almost sent them in one behind at the break, with Ashington's in-form striker Phill Bell denied a certain goal by a flying save from 'keeper Baird turning his header on to the crossbar.
Bell's brace for Whitley Bay had ensured our exit from the Senior Cup back in 2007 and a trio of half-chances came his way in the second half but he couldn't convert - Baird again denying him late on with another great block.
By then though United had put the tie beyond Ashington's reach, after serving up a more energetic and cohesive second 45 minutes than their disjoined first half efforts against a confident Colliers side that included fleet-footed former Magpie reserve, Jonny Godsmark.
And that dominance was underlined by similar long-range efforts from Inman on 57 and 75 minutes, Colliers 'keeper Karl Dryden helpless on both occasions to prevent precise strikes from the corner of his area hitting the net.
With Jak Alnwick and Ole Soderberg currently out on loan, 17 year-old custodian Baird grabbed the opportunity to impress those present on what was his second string bow, having recently returned to the U18 side following groin surgery.
A mention too for Northern Ireland youth international Lee Toland, who made his reserve debut at left back after a season disrupted by injury so far and looked the part.
Joining United in the Semi Finals are a trio of Northern League sides: Bedlington Terriers, Newcastle Benfield and Team Northumbria.