ASHINGTON skipper Liam Atkin sent out an apology on behalf of all the players to the management and supporters after the Woodhorn Lane outfit turned in an inept performance before being shown the exit door in their fifth round of the FA Carlsberg Vase by Shortwood United at Nailsworth in Gloucestershire on Saturday.
However, Atkin was just as mystified as anyone as to why the display had been so flat.
“I didn’t think anyone performed at all,” he said.
“All I can say is that it was one of those days which come along every now and then.
“It was horrendous – one of our worst showings of the campaign, and as skipper I’d like to apologise on behalf of the players to all concerned – the management, the executive board, the club and the supporters.
“Manager Gary Middleton, his assistant Neil Winskill and coach Richie Bond had all put in a lot of hard work and we simply didn’t perform well enough for them, but equally we didn’t purposely go out to lose.
“As a unit, we just looked out of place.
“There is always one match which comes along once a season when nothing works the way you want it to – and unfortunately for everyone it happened to be at Shortwood.
“It was bizarre because we really believed we could go on and do something in the competition.”
The incentive of a home draw in the next round was dangled before the two sides on Saturday.
But Atkin said: “I don’t know if it helped us knowing that we would have had a home tie in the quarter-finals but we should have known that we would have to work hard and have to be at our best – but we weren’t.
“We just didn’t do ourselves justice – and it was similar to when we played Grimsby in the FA Cup.
“The lads know we let people down, but I can assure every one that it wasn’t intentional.
“I try to take positives out of matches but there were none today and hopefully we will learn from our mistakes.”
He added: “You don’t forget the feeling of disappointment, nor how you have let people down.
“This was just a bad performance and I can’t put my finger on why.
“We have progressed at so many levels and we don’t become a bad team overnight.
“We can sit and think what went wrong but it won’t change anything and we can only change what is going to happen.”
Ashington were scheduled to travel to play STL league leaders and FA Vase quarter-finalists West Auckland on Tuesday before facing a home match against Stokesley at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday, with Atkin believing the squad can flourish in what remains of the season.
“We have a lot of games to play and we will have a big say in who will win the league title,” he said.