Harmison admits Ashington put themselves under pressure

Ashington manager Steve Harmison. Picture by Ian Appleby - www.ianapplebyimages.com
Ashington manager Steve Harmison. Picture by Ian Appleby - www.ianapplebyimages.com

Ashington FC manager Steve Harmison was delighted as his outfit progressed into the second qualifying round of the FA Vase on Saturday with a 4-3 win over Albion Sports.

However, the boss admitted that with his side firmly in the driving seat as they held a 4-1 lead, they put themselves under pressure in the closing stages after conceding two late goals from Omar Habeeb and Joe Barden.

“After being 3-0 up at half-time, I wouldn’t say we didn’t deserve to go through, but it was close at the end,” he said.

“We finished up being under pressure for the last few minutes, which we shouldn’t have had to cope with. We should have been controlling the game and making things easy for ourselves, but we didn’t.

“That was the disappointing element, but at the end of the day we are through to the next round of the Vase after coming on a three hours coach journey, and also after what happened in midweek against Penrith where Scott Blandford and Damien Stevens picked up two awful injuries, the latter which led to the match being abandoned.

“With that in mind, I was really pleased and proud of the way my lads went about their business today because they could have come down here feeling sorry for themselves.

“They worked hard and even though they made mistakes, and we will rectify them when we talk about them, to get through the whole 90 minutes and win the game away from home in difficult circumstances after Tuesday night was full credit to them.

“I think I would have accepted a 4-3 victory beforehand because of the mental state of the players.

“Even though we didn’t play great, they have done really, really well to get us into the next round, which was the most important thing.”

Harmison reflected on the first period: “I thought we were brilliant for the first 20 minutes where we played well then we stopped doing the basics.

“The game plan was working perfectly and we got a goal in front, letting them come to us, but then all of a sudden we stopped passing and doing the simple things like getting on the ball and retaining it and turning the play over.

“I thought we defended really, really well then we caught them on the break twice and got into a 3-0 lead.”

Harmison believed panic may have crept in.

“We are thinking ten minutes into the second half about finishing this game off, but it just didn’t happen for us for some reason.

“We maybe panicked a little bit because of where we are and where we have come from; the players we have got missing; confidence and the new lads we have brought in.

“We didn’t have much option in wide areas but it was a case of us not doing the basics well in the second half and we invited them onto us.

“Albion were always going to have a spell but we kept them at bay and I thought we were fine.

“Even when it went to 3-1, everything was OK, then after we scored the fourth goal, we stopped.

“However, I thought the all round effort from the players was brilliant.”

Harmison will again be scouring the transfer market in a bid to strengthen his squad.

“Inside a few days, we have lost Scott Blandford and Damien Stevens to injuries,” he said.

“Andrew Bulford pulled his thigh in the warm-up and that’s why he didn’t take part, and Ben Christensen had already gone off, which was a big blow, before Albion Sports got their second.

“We are not down to the bare bones but in key areas we are a bit short.”