Harmison takes ‘massive positives’ from Ashington win

Ashington FC manager Steve Harmison.
Ashington FC manager Steve Harmison.

Ashington FC manager Steve Harmison said there were ‘massive positives’ after his side had won a five-goal thriller against Durham City at Consett’s Belle View Stadium on Saturday.

And on a chilly windswept day, the boss also complimented Blyth-based referee Dean Hulme.

“First and foremost, this win propels us up the league,” he said.

“I missed the game on Tuesday against Whitley Bay where we won 4-3 in ridiculous conditions, and the elements were the same again today.

“However, I thought the referee did well in a way that he applied common sense.

“I have been very critical of officials in the last few weeks but I thought he handled the game very well.”

Harmison said he had emphasised to his players the importance to dig deep.

He said: “I thought my lads applied themselves in the conditions as well as they could do.

“We battled hard and that is the thing I want this team to continue to do.

“When things are not rosy, you have got to battle hard and they ground out a result.

“You cannot just walk on to the field and expect to win the game, you’ve got to go through the processes of how you think you can achieve victory.”

Harmison also paid tribute to the Citizens.

“It was a poor game for both sides and that’s nothing against the players or officials, it was due to the conditions,” he said.

“Durham boss Chris Moore will be aggrieved because of the whole game and the result, and I thought they played some excellent football against the wind.

“They caused us a lot of problems in that middle period of the second half when my team didn’t really know whether to stick or twist and they picked us off a little bit.

“But we got a little slice of good fortune. The second goal was an own goal then we got a little bit of a deflection for the winner and I think that typified what the game was, one where a little bit of luck was going to win the game and fortunately we have come out on the right side of it.”

The boss described losing skipper Andrew Johnson and Dylan Williamson through injury as ‘body blows’ but still said there had been massive positives to emerge from the victory.

“We used 14 players again and there were massive positives for us,” he added.

“We weren’t going to use James Taylor more from a pitch point of view because it’s 3G.

“He’s just returned after being out for a year and when we got him on grass last week, he opened his ankle up and to get him back is a massive plus for Ashington.

“Andrew Bulford is a new signing, but in my eyes I’ve got another in Taylor.”

The Colliers were forced into a late reshuffle when Johnson pulled up in the warm-up with an injury to his back.

Harmison added: “Andrew has trapped a nerve and it’s good to get a win when you are not reliant on him.

“This club has heavily relied on Andrew for the last few years and hopefully the victory without him is a good sign and a positive one when he gets back and fit.

“A good team needs top, top players and I think we are getting a group of them.

“Our captain [Andrew Johnson] was absent today but he doesn’t miss training and has only lost one game this season, which was through suspension on the opening day of the season.

“As much as he doesn’t like missing out, to give him a rare day off was another positive for me.

“Likewise, the reason why Paul Dunn wasn’t involved was the pitch.

“Paul did very well on Tuesday against Whitley Bay but I told him to have the weekend off.

“We changed a winning side from Tuesday. Matty Grieve came back in and we left James Harmison out, again because of the pitch, and we are starting to built a nice little but strong squad.”

Harmison had words of encouragement for Williamson, who suffered knee ligament damage.

“Dylan’s injury is a worry,” he said.

“We have just got him back and he has been fired up and was going well.

“He had scored four goals in four days and it’s a massive shame.

“To lose him is another body blow but we are hoping the injury will not be as bad as first feared.”