Ashington stuck in ‘second gear’ – Middleton

A Penrith defender goes in on Ashington striker Glen Taylor inside the penalty area. Picture by Ian Appleby

A Penrith defender goes in on Ashington striker Glen Taylor inside the penalty area. Picture by Ian Appleby

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Ashington boss Gary Middleton was delighted following the 2-1 victory over Penrith at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday – but admitted that his side had failed to hit top gear against the Cumbrians.

Middleton said that his outfit never got out of second gear throughout and after edging ahead for a second time during a contest affected greatly by a strong wind, needed a third goal to ensure all the points.

He said: “It was always going to be a difficult game, especially with the conditions on the day, so I’m pleased to come in at 5pm with the three points.

“We dominated the first half without actually creating any real opportunities but I thought our play in general was disappointing as we lacked that bit of quality which we had shown against Newcastle Benfield on Tuesday night.

“When we got into good areas in the first half, our final ball let us down miserably, yet we got the opening goal on the stroke of half-time, which was our first sort of desire in the penalty box.

“We’ve passed a good ball out to David Carson who has come in and threaded a pass through; Glen Taylor has made a half decent ball into something and it has rolled to Marc Walton who has finished it with aplomb.

“It was nice to get the lead but I would not say it was deserved because I thought a par 0-0 score line at half-time would have been right as our keeper Karl (Dryden) has pulled off a great save to his left.”

Middleton and his assistant Perry Briggs made the squad aware of their shortcomings in the first 45 minutes.

“We were disappointed and let the players know our feelings at half-time,” said the boss.

“We told them they needed to step things up – but we did not do that as we played in second gear throughout the 90 minutes.

“They got a deserved equaliser with a fantastic strike from Richard Faustino.

“I was right behind the shot and when it left his foot, it was always going to go into the top corner.”

Middleton admitted that he felt his side ‘hung on’ for victory.

He added: “We huffed and puffed and got a goal which was a bit scrappy – although it was a good finish from Glen (Taylor) – but it has bobbled up in the air and was something out of nothing.

“Again, we could have gone on but it was not great quality with our final decision whether it be a pass, cross or a shot – and we’ve hung on in the end to be fair.

“We needed a third to kill the game off and they have had a great chance at the death where the ball has come across our goal and they haven’t finished it off.”

The boss concluded: “We’ve won today without playing well which is good in itself and that’s pleasing.

“The win showed good character because we were down to the bare bones with our squad and we had players going into the last ten minutes like Kyle Oliver, David Carson and Marc Walton who were all struggling.

“I know conditions had a big bearing but overall the lads haven’t played to the level which we know they can yet I’ve got to be happy with another three points.”