GARY Middleton hailed his side as conquering heroes after they knocked out Spennymoor Town in the FA Carlsberg Vase at the Brewery Field on Saturday.
The Ashington CFC boss could not hide his delight after two superb second half goals from Andrew Johnson and Jonny Godsmark earned a place in the fourth round.
“It was a fantastic, superb all round performance from everyone and we could not have asked any more from the players.
“I thought the discipline, work ethic and quality was good and they have done themselves and the supporters proud.
“t was difficult to single any one out because we have played against a class, quality team in Spennymoor when every one of our players needed to be on the top of their game.
“We knew it was going to be a tough encounter and probably the draw we didn’t want, but we also knew that we were quite capable of getting a result if we performed the way we have already done in big games this season.”
After a scoreless first 45 minutes, Middleton was more than happy.
“The first half went the way we expected with Spennymoor having a lot of possession and there was not much in it, but there again I thought we had two or three good chances in the opening period on the counter attack,” he added.
“We were quite happy at the interval and we asked the players for more of the same.
“We had to keep working hard, closing them down, pressing the ball, stopping them from playing and be aware of the pace of Gavin Cogden and the strike power of Barton when the ball went into the box – and I thought we did all of those things and matched them.”
Middleton, pictured, also heaped praise on the decisive strikes from Johnson and Godsmark, labelling the latter’s effort as being “as good a goal in non league football” he has ever seen.
“Johnson has curled a brilliant free kick into the top corner from 25 yards out and after that we didn’t change anything – we kept the same shape and continued to play the same way as we had done from the start.
“The effort by Jonny Godsmark was probably as good a goal as I have seen in non league football.
“It was absolutely first class – a one man goal which had pace, quality and finishing ability.
Injuries to Mark O’Dea and Damen Mullen had forced Middleton and assistant Neil Winskill to make changes to the line-up.
He said: “We had to reshuffle the pack a little bit but the shape of the side remained the same as we had planned.
“We needed to stifle them (Spennymoor) and hopefully to get a bit of quality at the other end, which we did, and the end result has seen us knock one of the favourites out of the competition.”
Moors assistant boss Perry Briggs was gracious in defeat.
He said: “We’re obviously very disappointed. Over the 90 minutes although we had a lot of possession, I thought Ashington deserved to win.
“They defended very well and had a game plan and I don’t think we had a clear cut chance on goal.
“Football is a game of opinions and I thought we could have had two penalties which we did not get.
“Ashington contained us but by the same token we never turned up on the day nor did we put enough effort into the game and we have consequently shot ourselves in the foot.
“However, I wish Ashington all the very best and hope they go a long way in the competition.”