Ashington FC manager Steve Harmison has on occasions so far this season, questioned a lack of quality in the football played by his side.
But on Saturday that all changed with the Woodhorn Lane boss left drooling by the high standard of the goals in the Colliers 5-0 win over Sunderland Ryhope CW.
“The finishing was unreal,” he said,
“Kyle Downey’s effort was a good free kick and full credit to him because he works on these in training and it shows that if you prepare then you get the deserved reward.
“Ben Sampson’s goal was a fantastic finish – the kid is only 17 years old and we are having to hold him back a little bit.
“He played for New Hartley Juniors last year and although he is not playing as many games in junior football, there are people who have got the body to step up to this level and Ben is in that category.
“Every time he has come on as a substitute he has been excellent – we have just got to make sure when we put him in it’s against the right opposition.
“A lot of things have gone against us and I’m sure the other coaching staff will agree with me – like the rub of the green and refereeing decisions but the cricket was called off at Ashington today who as a result won the league and all of the players came down to support us.
“But it also gave us an extra option to include Ben Harmison which we haven’t had on a Saturday afternoon – a centre forward to come on with 25 minutes to go who brings people into play.
“It was a terrific finish by him but more of the fact that the rub of the green is coming our way because we’ve been limited with two centre forwards.”
He continued: “We are also starting to get players back and it makes for hard decisions for the management team of Ian Skinner, Lee Anderson and myself because we are going to have around 19 players to choose from and that is what we want.
“We want people to be disappointed when they are not playing and I think what we showed today, is when they come on the field, they have got to perform.
“I’m pleased for the players more than anything else because they have taken some stick – some of it rightly so; some unjust but they haven’t had the rub of the green so far this season.
“However I’m really pleased for the whole squad who have played today because they can go and hold their heads high and really take a step forward.
“Ryhope arrived at our place off the back of a draw against both Shildon and Sunderland RCA – two teams who have beaten us this term but this was a very good win which was built from the foundation of the first half where we played and defended well.
“We got a goal out of nothing from Damien Stevens and we said to the players at half time to have a bit more belief.
“We emphasised that we are good side when we are ahead and confidence is flowing.”
He went on: “We had to make a couple of enforced changes.
“I felt sorry for James Harmison because he has literally played every minute of the campaign so far and probably played more than we wanted him to play in pre season because of personnel.
“His calf has been tight and we’ve asked a lot of him in recent weeks because of injuries to Ryan Bell and Craig Scott and it was a game too far for him.
“He had a fitness test before the game and we pushed him and Wayne Buchanan to play.
“He again felt his calf at half time and we had to press Craig Scott into service.
“In an ideal world we would have wanted Craig to play 20 minutes.
“He looked good, solid and got stronger as the game wore on and I think he needed that as his confidence grew bearing in mind he hadn’t played for a year.
“We also had to make the substitution for Stevens to come off and brought young Ben Sampson on with Scott Gunn playing a different role whilst I thought Shaun Bell was excellent in midfield on his debut - but everyone of my players were outstanding.
“I said on Monday our performance in the 1-1 draw against Morpeth, it was our best of the season but we topped that today.
“We did a job against Morpeth to frustrate them and we did what we set out to do. Today we had to be on the front foot - and we were.”