ASHINGTON CFC manager Gary Middleton - delighted with the 4-2 derby win over Bedlington Terriers at Welare Park on Boxing Day - admitted that his side had had to defent well before wrapping up the three points.
However, Middleton – who heaped lavish praise on Dan Taylor, the striker on loan from Newcastle United, described it as being just another good all round performance.
Middleton said afterwards: “First half we were down the hill with the breeze and I thought we totally controlled the game but at one nil I was thinking was that enough because obviously as a former Bedlington player myself, I know the home team like to come down the bank second half and put you under an extreme amount of pressure.” The boss reflected on how his outfit could have added further goals in the opening period: “We were unfortunate hitting the woodwork on three occasions but we got the second goal right on half time which was important,” he said, “I thought the lads were terrific first half with there application and quality and we knew we would cause them problems with the pace we had in Dan Taylor, Phill Bell and Andrew Johnson - and we did that.”
Middleton acknowledged that he knew his side would face a tough second period – but thought they coped admirably: “We said it would be a totally different game second half because you could see in the first period that it was difficult to get out going up the hill and unfortunately we’ve conceded in the first minute,” he said, “But we dug in and dropped Bell deeper to try and accommodate us from being under so much pressure from them.
“Taylor scored a double before they have come back at us again but for all the pressure they had, I thought we looked composed, defended well, hit them on the counter attack and looked dangerous.”
Middleton then praised debutant Dan Taylor: “Dan was outstanding,” he said, “He looks strong, his runs were quality and he was playing against two proper centre halves in Chris Carr and Richard Flynn and the lad has thoroughly enjoyed it.
“Initially we have him on loan for a month then we will have a look at it from there – and of course it depends on what Newcastle United want.”
Middleton singled out other members of his playing staff: “I thought Andrew Johnson was superb and caused them problems throughout; Tommy English had a great game for us on returning to his old club and Craig Scott was Mr Reliable again.
“However, in a nutshell it was just another good all round performance.”
Bedlington’s joint boss Tony Lowery said: “I was obviously very disappointed. It was a game of two halves on a pitch where it is difficult to get out of the bottom half of the field - and we didn’t turn up in the opening 45 minutes.
“We probably got a bit of luck being only one goal behind in 40 minutes because we probably deserved to be two or three down.
“The second goal which arrived just before half time has kicked us in the teeth a bit. We got the goal back at the start of the second half, missed two great chances to make it 2-2 then Ashington’s third has killed us really.
“It was bad defending but the lad (Taylor) has taken it well.”
Lowery then dwelled on two chances which fell in quick succession to striker John Campbell – both of which he placed wide of the target: “Football is all about getting goals at the right times and after coming back to 2-1, if John Campbell had scored with those great chances, it could have been a little bit different,” he said, “It’s frustrating because John usually buries those opportunities and we definitely had chances to get back into the game. Having said that, I’m not going to have many complaints. I was bitterly disappointed with our lads in the first half but second period, we got a bit of a reaction from them.”
Lowery also spoke highly of Ashington’s on loan striker Dan Taylor: “Taylor worked very well for his side,” he said, “He’s a fit lad who put a lot of energy and effort into the game and made a big difference. Ashington started the match brighter and we said before hand that it was going to be difficult. They probably deserved the win and it means honours are even over the season following our 4-1 victory over them at Woodhorn Lane back in late August.”