The biggest gripe for Ashington boss Gary Middleton after his side had gone down 2-0 against championship contenders Shildon at Woodhorn Lane on Friday night was that his side never raised their game.
Speaking afterwards, Middleton said: “I do acknowledge that the best team won – but over the 90 minutes I didn’t think there was much between the two teams.
“We needed to raise our game that shade more than what we did if we wanted to take something out of the contest, and we didn’t do that.”
He continued: “I’ve just said to the players that it wasn’t a game which was too big for us – Shildon are a good team – but there were lots of things which I thought we were average at tonight, and if more players had been at the top of their game, I think we would have won.
“We huffed and puffed right the way through, and whilst some of the link up play was good, some was awful and we didn’t do as well as what we could have done.”
The boss was reasonably happy after the opening 45 minutes, despite his side trailing to a single goal.
But he then looked on as the worst case scenario happened within a minute of the second half.
“I thought first half we played some good build up play,” he said.
“Andrew Johnson was a threat drifting inside and creating opportunities without us actually making the goalkeeper work.
“However, the last thing I said before the players left the dressing rooms after half-time was for us to stay in the game for the first 20 minutes, but we have conceded within a minute and it was a right sloppy goal too.
“It then gave us a mountain to climb, especially against a team like Shildon, but even so I thought we had some good chances.
“Kyle Oliver has had two shots from in and around the box which have gone straight down the keeper’s throat when either side of the stopper they would have been goals, and Sam Norris has also had a chance at the far post.
“If those had gone in we would have been right back in it.
“But it was one of those nights where a little bit more from every one of the players and we would have been a threat to Shildon.
“They probably thought they were comfortable throughout, but I’m disappointed that we never raised our game.”