ASHINGTON manager Gary Middleton was upbeat with his side’s performance in the 2-2 draw with West Auckland on Saturday – despite seeing his outfit lose a two-goal lead.
The visitors had been in command thanks to strikes from Andrew Johnson and Glen Taylor.
Middleton said: “I was pleased with the turnaround from the defeat at home to Whitley Bay.
“We had a good chat through the week, and again today, and I thought the players showed a great response to what was a poor display in the second 45 minutes against the Seahorses.”
The Colliers boss said it was a tough task facing his players at the Darlington Road ground against a team perched third in the Ebac Northern League first division.
“We knew it was going to be difficult coming down here,” he said.
“It’s always a hard place to get anything – but I thought we bossed the first 30 minutes.
“We scored a good goal through Andrew Johnson then West Auckland came into it for the last 15 minutes.
“I thought we lost our discipline a little bit and we had a chat about that at half-time.”
After Glen Taylor’s early strike in the second period, Middleton knew what to expect.
“We came out and scored a great worked goal through Glen then obviously we knew that they were going to come at us,” he added.
“I was just a bit disappointed no one picked players up in the six yards box when the ball bobbled around a little bit, which led to them pulling a goal back.
“Then they have equalised from a mistake by Matty Grieve.”
Middleton had sympathy for the tall central defender on the back of an otherwise outstanding display.
He said: “It was one of those games where we had to have players playing through the 90 minutes and not making a mistake, and we’ve just said that 99 per cent of Matty’s decisions today have been the correct ones on a poor pitch where you had to get your foot through it and had to play forward – and he has been done for one error.
“If you don’t make any mistakes then you have got a chance in the game, and it’s not only disappointing for us – it’s disappointing for him as well because I thought he had a great game.”
Middleton said his side need to be mentally stronger if they are to progress to the next level.
“I thought the players showed great character today,” he said.
“Not many teams come to West Auckland and get a point – let alone give them a game like we have done.
“I am disappointed for the lads in the dressing room and I’ve just told them that they deserved three points today.
“I’ve also mentioned that I cannot fault their character – but to get to the next level we need to be mentally stronger and to continue to make the right decisions.
“I’m not disappointed and I was pleased with the performance.
“I thought the back four were terrific against possibly one of the best strike forces in the league, limiting their opportunities.
“But we have come away with a point, and it was a good point.”