Ashington FC manager Steve Harmison paid tribute to West Allotment Celtic and their boss Jon McDonald after the Colliers had been forced to grind out a 3-1 win at Whitley Park on Saturday.
Ben Harmison, Lee Scott and Andrew Johnson were on the mark for the Wansbeck outfit.
And the boss firmly believed that it was an extra bit of quality which clinched the victory.
“People will think that because we won 3-1 and West Allotment are near the bottom end of the table that it was a convincing win, but it was far from it,” he said.
“I thought they were every bit as good as we were on the day, but unfortunately for them, we had that little bit more quality and that’s what got us over the line.
“I keep saying if we work hard and stick together it will be rewarded with wins, and we are starting to get that and today we had to work very, very hard.”
He continued: “I was impressed by the way West Allotment performed.
“It was a game on a nice pitch and played in a nice way and there wasn’t really a tackle or any nastiness in the game.
“In the first half we played some nice football but made wrong decisions at key times and that’s where we panicked a little bit.
“We said to the lads at half-time that we wanted someone to take the game by the scruff of the neck; to give us some impetus and take some responsibility because it felt as if we were waiting for someone to do something rather than someone to put their hand up and say ‘I’m going to do it’.
“The group have been injected with some new faces who have helped, as is the case with some players returning from injury.
“I had some tough, difficult decisions to make as we had 19 players to pick from, but I’d rather have those decisions than the ones I had at the start of the season.
“That comes down to us not panicking and I’m pleased for every single player.”
But Harmison thought his side were going to rue missed opportunities.
He added: “It was a great goal by Ben [Harmison] to get us back into the game at 1-1 and there was not many other places that the ball could have gone.
“We missed chances, maybe snatching at them, Ben missed a couple and the keeper [Jak Wells] saved a couple, and it goes through your mind ‘maybe it’s not going to be our day’.
“But we got there in the end and from now the pressure is on the players to perform because we’ve seen Ollie Hotchkiss, Kyle Oliver and Lee Scott all come on as substitutes and give us that little bit extra to go forward.
“Players are coming back and with Dylan Williamson and Josh Gray amongst the players still out, we have a good squad.
“We have got some smashing footballers at the club now and if we keep the winning mentality going then we will climb the table very quickly.
“But I can’t reiterate to these players enough that a football match lasts 90-plus minutes and a team has 14 players in it.
“It’s not about 11, nor a superstar, but a team.
“The injection we got off the bench has got to happen each time and we have to look at that and make sure every time someone comes off the bench they come off hungry to do a job.
“Kyle Downey, Ben Harmison and Michael King all put great shifts in for us to get us in a position to win a game.
“The others came on to give us a bit of injection and energy. And when tired bodies are on the field they made quick decisions and we scored two goals, and we cannot ask for anything more than that.”
Harmison praised the hosts: “I thought we played some good football against a decent side, a better side than their league position represents.
“They are a young outfit and I hope that they can get themselves a bit higher up the table because in Jon McDonald they have a fantastic coach who cares about his players.
“Apart from ourselves, Northumberland need the West Allotments, Bedlingtons and Whitley Bays in the Northern League. We need them all because of the area we are in.”