ASHINGTON CFC boss Gary Middleton threw a protective screen around his squad following Saturday’s 5-0 defeat against defending champions Spennymoor, instead laying blame firmly at his own doorstep.
Middleton, who has seen the Moors run out convincing winners against the Colliers in both meetings this term – 6-2 at Woodhorn Lane – said: “We have a youthful team and a naive one at times, and if that’s a fault then it’s down to me.
“I’m the manager and I need to take the blame; I need to take the responsibility.
“Having a young side sometimes works for you but sometimes against you, and at the moment it is the latter in our case.
“It goes back to the FA Carlsberg Vase game at Long Buckby when things got tough and we could not handle it.
“We do not have many experienced heads in the team – leaders I call them on the pitch – and the inexperience when we are under pressure results in our naive play.
“Before the game on Saturday, we lost Iain Nickalls, ruled out through injury.
“Iain is one of those experienced players along with the likes of Paul Dunn and James Harmison whom we cannot call on at the moment.
“We’ve gone for young players with lots of potential and although it isn’t working at present, we’ll stick with it.
“We believe in these players and we have got to get together to try to work harder and overcome falling on our faces under pressure.
“We are not doing particularly well at two crucial aspects of the game – taking chances and keeping clean sheets.”
Middleton added that he will not panic and make wholesale changes or signings.
“There’s no way I’m going to go out and sign a load of experienced players,” he said.
“The lads we have got have proved that they can compete with the very best, but it has to be over a more consistent period of time and they have to stand up and be counted when the going gets tough.”
Reflecting on the defeat at Spennymoor, Middleton added: “They were good – the best team I’ve seen for a long time, but we made them look better with a lacklustre performance.
“We never got going and couldn’t get the ball, and our energy levels, work ethic and defending let us down.”
He concluded: “We were inept from start to finish and there were not many positives.
“Scott Blandford, pictured, was our best player out of a poor 14.
“He had a first class attitude, but Scott apart, I didn’t think anyone came out of with any credit.”