Colliers boss issues challenge to players

ASHINGTON CFC manager Gary Middleton is challenging his players to put in a repeat performance against Whitley Bay on Friday night as when the Colliers pulled off a 2-1 victory in the Northumberland Senior Cup clash at Hillheads last month.

Speaking ahead of the mouthwatering derby clash at Woodhorn Lane, Middleton said: “Yes, I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully we’ll attract a good gate through the turnstiles and the game will also pull in the neutral spectators as well.

“The Bay are through to the quarter finals of the FA Carlsberg Vase and are fifth in the league table and that’s the challenge for my players.

“We enjoyed a great night a little over six weeks ago when we beat the Seahorses in the Senior Cup and I’ll be looking for a similar display on Friday.

“Certainly it’s another big challenge.”

Meanwhile Whitley Bay boss Ian Chandler will be looking for his side to exact revenge following the cup lose.

“It was a good end to end game a few weeks ago and on another night we may have won the tie,” said Chandler.

“We missed a few chances and Ashington got the goals at the right times in an entertaining game.

“Hopefully it will be just as exciting on Friday but with a different result as we will be on a revenge mission!”

Whilst the Bay need to keep on track if they are to finish in the top two in their quest for promotion to the Evo Stik league, Chandler admitted that they need to be aware of the threat posed by their former striker Phill Bell.

“We need three points and will be going all out to get them,” added the Bay boss.

“It has all the ingredients of being another good game and Phill Bell will be a handful.”

Chandler will naturally keep his line up close to his chest until shortly before kick-off but looks set to wrap a few players in cotton wool ahead of their quarter-final showdown in the FA Carlsberg Vase at Dunston the following Saturday.

He added: “I’ve got to admit that we’ll have a little eye on the following weekend as I need to protect key players for the Dunston game.

“But I’ll still be putting a good team out to try and win three points.”

Goalkeeper Kyle Hayes, one of six ex-Ashington players in the Bay squad, looks set to be between the posts with Terry Burke being unavailable whilst Chandler is also hoping that central defender David Coulson will be involved.

“David is ready to up his rehabilitation,” added the Bay boss.

“He was in the squad for Tuesday’s match at South Shields (February 22) and if he suffers no reaction then he will have some involvement on Friday at Ashington.”

The Colliers were due to meet Norton & Stockton Ancients at the Station Road ground last night (Wednesday) but at the weekend Middleton has no injury concerns for Friday’s 7.30pm kick-off.

Meanwhile Dunston UTS secretary Bill Montague revealed that his club were ‘devastated’ when last Saturday’s clash against Ashington fell foul of the weather.

The Wansbeck side won a tight affair on home soil last midweek with a solitary Bell penalty and the teams were due for a quick return clash.

However, rain proved to be the winner and after the game had been called off by referee Graham Fyvie, Mr Montague said: “We were devastated.

“We are naturally delighted to be through to the last eight of the FA Carlsberg Vase but have only completed half of our league fixtures, and at this rate we’re going to be playing three games a week.”