Harmison disappointed as Ashington are ‘out-battled’ in FA Cup defeat

Ashington FC manager Steve Harmison.
Ashington FC manager Steve Harmison.
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Ashington FC manager Steve Harmison was upset but had no qualms over his side’s 2-1 defeat to Nelson in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.

Harmison said his side were out-battled and did not do enough to deserve making progress.

“To be honest disappointing is not the word for the exit,” he said.

“We had one bad game pre-season and did we have a hang up after the Newcastle friendly? We can make excuses that there were a few tired bodies after the effort they put in against Newcastle, but we had 11 players out on that pitch who were more than capable of beating Nelson.

“They [Nelson] came with a plan and it worked, whereas I thought when we started, we were nervous.

“We had a chance before the interval where we hit the post and bar, and we got in at half-time 1-1. I’m not sure whether the players came into the dressing room thinking it was ‘job done’, but when they went out second half, they lacked the urgency which they had finished the first half with.

“I also thought we were out-battled, and that is something which disappoints me the most.

“We missed a couple of chances, threw caution to the wind near the end and we had a few near misses, but we didn’t do enough in the first 60 minutes to warrant or deserve to win the game, and that is another aspect which is frustrating.

“We have worked hard in pre-season and granted we were a few bodies light and didn’t have many options. There was criticism for us coming off the pitch from the sidelines and it was deserved because I thought the performance wasn’t good enough and I had no qualms about the result.

“The players had a chance to showcase what they could do following the win over Newcastle, and yes we missed the big centre forward [Ben Harmison] which would have given us another alternative.

“As a team Nelson worked and battled harder than us, and fair play to them.

“We are predominantly slow starters in what we do and it was proved again.

“We put some decent balls into the box but all in all as a team and a club we have got to be unhappy about exiting this competition.”

Nelson’s winner came from the penalty spot and Harmison added: “From where we were standing for the penalty, we had no arguments.

“The kid got in front of Scott [Blandford] and went over, but by the same token, I was disappointed in injury time because I thought we had a similar situation through Ryan Bell but he was booked for diving.

“However, that would have only have put an Elastoplast over what had happened – in the end we didn’t battle hard enough nor did we show composure or quality when we got into positions to target the goal.”