Middleton praises leg weary squad

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GARY Middleton applauded his leg weary players at the weekend after a gruelling five-days.

The Woodhorn Lane outfit booked their place in the Northumberland Senior Cup following a hard fought 2-0 victory against North Shields on Tuesday then followed up with a 1-1 draw at Team Northumbria on Thursday before Saturday’s win over South Shields.

A delighted Middleton said: “It’s been a massive week for the club, the players and the staff with three big games.

“We said at 2pm in the dressing room that we needed a big effort from everyone because we are working with a wafer thin squad and asked the lads to dig deep into their resources.

“We knew against South Shields we were playing against a team who never lies down.

“Their manager Jon King has organised a good side from what he started with at the start of the season and I thought on a difficult and lively pitch, we not only played some decent football at times but over the 90 minutes just shaded it.

“However, the most pleasing aspect for me was how hard the players worked.

“We knew we would have to match them for work ethic and we did, scoring two good goals, and to be fair, second half we could have had a few more with better finishing and a little bit of luck.”

Middleton, who brought in Lee Scott for his debut, also handed out praise to players promoted from the reserve side.

“I thought Lee had a great game,” he said.

“He worked ever so hard for the team and was unlucky not to get on the score sheet after having a couple of half chances.

“I was thrilled to bits for Marc Heaman, who has played a part over the last three or four months and gradually got more and more minutes.

“He has come off the bench and I thought he was terrific for the 20 minutes he played – and what a ball he put in for the second goal which killed the game off.”

The boss added: “Steve Slaughter has come on and played half an hour at right back, which is a positive for us and Joe Moscrop has also been involved and whilst things are not great at the minute personnel wise with players away on holiday as well as Craig Scott likely to be out for a few weeks after pulling his hamstring, we have just got to keep muscling on and keep requesting big efforts like we had today.”

Meanwhile 28-goal midfielder turned striker Andrew Johnson – who scored one and claimed an assist for the other goal on Saturday – also came in for a huge pat on the back from Middleton.

“Whether you play Andrew up front or in midfield, he’s the man who is going to carve out goals whilst also scoring them and we need his creativity within the team,” he said.