ASHINGTON CFC’s second qualifying round FA Cup tie against Vauxhall Motors at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday was marred by an awful injury to home skipper Darren Lough, which left him with a fractured skull.
Colliers boss Gary Middleton said the sickening injury was something he had never seen in all his years in the game.
He said: “After the incident, I couldn’t personally go over to see what was happening because it was sickening.
“To be fair to the lads, they’ve had to pick themselves up from that – but some of them including Darren’s close mates Liam Atkin and Jonny Godsmark were distraught.”
Such was the seriousness of the injury that the game was almost abandoned. Lough was taken to hospital by ambulance, where he is still being monitored, although he does not have to have surgery.
Middleton added: “The management from Vauxhall were quite happy to come off the pitch and have the game replayed.
“Their only objective was the expense of travelling up again, but they said they would leave things until half-time.
“The problem I had as a manager was you can say what you want, but physically and mentally inside players, they have seen a horrific injury to a friend and to try and mentally turn that around into a performance is difficult.
“At the time, I myself was probably in favour of an abandonment because of that and Vauxhall were great.
“The referee asked me at half-time for my thoughts; the respective secretaries agreed for the game to go on and it was our shout – and to be fair, our lads wanted to continue.
“But I haven’t got enough admiration for Vauxhall.”
Ashington CFC chairman Ian Lavery said: “This was a big occasion for Ashington CFC and it was severely clouded by an horrendous incident to Darren.
“My immediate thoughts – and I’m sure I speak on behalf of all of those associated with the club – are to wish Darren the very best of luck for a speedy recovery and hope he is back fit and ready to play again as soon as possible. He is a formidable player as well as a tremendous character.
“And full praise must go to the tremendous efforts of the entire playing staff to secure a fine result under the circumstances.
“Incidents of this nature effect everyone involved either playing staff or spectator and again I’m sure everyone agrees that this puts life and sport into perspective.”
On his team’s spirited comeback, Middleton added: “It was a terrific game for the neutral but on what has happened, probably a fair result.”
“As a manager, I’m thinking ‘can we come back from this?’ – yes, because I’ve got people in the team who can score goals.”
“Stephen Young has netted his goal well ... and what a header that was to equalise.”