Ashington a ‘different side when ahead’ – Harmison

Ashington's Kyle Downey. Picture by Ian Appleby
Ashington's Kyle Downey. Picture by Ian Appleby

Ashington FC manager Steve Harmison is still pulling his hair out with his squad six games into the season.

The Colliers picked up their second win of the campaign on Tuesday night when goals from Kyle Downey, Andrew Bulford (2) and Damien Stevens resulted in a 4-2 win over Chester-le-Street.

But Harmison’s side had to do it the hard way after going behind yet again.

“Tonight we made the same mistakes as in the previous games,” he said.

“We got a little bit more of the bounce of the ball going our way but we continue to make errors.

“Chester-le-Street’s first goal stemmed from us giving the ball away in the middle of the field, which resulted in a free kick which bounced over the top of our defence.

“We are giving goals away from either individual mistakes or sloppy play and we have got to try and eradicate the errors and stay in the game.

“We have never got the first goal in all games to date this season and are always chasing our tail.”

He continued: “I felt sorry that Scott Gunn didn’t play tonight, and the selection was nothing against him, we just felt that with our goalkeeper Conor Grant missing, we needed a bit more protection and needed to be a bit more solid.

“We went with a back five including three centre halves and put Ryan Bell, who had a good game, in the middle of the park.

“We made mistakes which we cut out in the second half, which was good.

“I thought collectively as a team we worked hard, but we are a different side when we are in front, and Andrew Bulford’s second goal typified what we can do.

“Kyle Downey got the ball and with calmness looked up and passed to Shaun Henderson. There was only one option on, a Henderson to Joe Moscrop pass, which was more than ten to 15 yards which opened the opposition up down the line. The ball was crossed for Bulford who netted, and I’m pleased for him because things haven’t gone his way so far this season.

“We all know Andrew is a goal scorer and needs chances. He’s snatched at a few this season but tonight he had two opportunities and put them both away, and that’s what a goal scorer does.

“We are a massive work in progress outfit and we have got to be happy with tonight.

“Other than our back four, when we go behind we haven’t got the experience and character to withstand and hold and make sure we get back in the game, and that is a big thing for us.

“Recruitment is more about experience now, we need a couple of experienced players to come in to guide the younger lads.

“We have got some good young players at the club who haven’t played at this level before.

“I though Ben Sampson was again excellent when he came on, and he is only 17-years-old, and people have got to be aware of that.

“Scott Gunn is only 20 whilst Reece Farrell and Downey are also young lads.”

Harmison praised Downey, who equalised shortly before the interval with a precision free kick.

“The goal by Kyle on half-time changed the whole context of the game as well as my team talk,” he said.

“It was a great free kick, and at the time and because of the way things were going for us, I was wanting James Harmison to put his foot through the ball from that distance.

“The one thing I did say at half-time was the reason why Kyle scored the goal was because he practices in training all the time.

“So that tells you, if you practice and if you prepare you will get rewarded. He did and fair play to him because he got us back into the game.”

Grant will return in goal for Saturday’s home league clash against Guisborough, but stand-in keeper Luc Glasper and striker Joe Moscrop received plaudits from Harmison.

“Glasper did well but Conor is number one and will be back for Saturday,” said the boss.

“I was pleased for Luc because he had an assist for one of the goals.

“Moscrop did really well second half when he came on, and every time I have asked him to play the lad has never let me down.

“I felt awful asking him to help us out on this occasion because the last time he dislocated his shoulder, but Joe showed he has some experience.

“He did really well and I’m thankful to him for that.

“We still missed the big man [Ben Harmison], but we showed we can play as a team when we are in front.

“However, we have got to stop the elementary mistakes which puts us on the back foot.”

For the contest against Guisborough, Scott Blandford also returns to the squad but Craig Scott, Ryan Bell and Ben Harmison are all ruled out whilst fitness tests will be run on defenders James Harmison, Wayne Buchanan and Ben Christensen.