Ashington CFC manager Gary Middleton preferred to look back on his side’s points tally over the past few weeks rather than dwell and dissect the 2-0 reverse by Newcastle Benfield at Sam Smiths Park on Saturday.
Naturally disappointed as the Woodhorn Lane outfit came unstuck as they looked to extend a six games unbeaten run, Middleton nevertheless praised his lads.
And apart from feeling that it was a step too far, he added that in all his time in management, he is currently experiencing a new situation.
He said: “I’ve been in management for eight years now and having to play with a back four all of whom are playing out of their normal positions is something new on me.
“We have lost four centre halves – Liam Atkin, Craig Scott and Lance McGlen through injury and Matty Grieve who has joined Celtic Nation – and I must have spoken over the past few weeks to every Northern League manager with a view to signing at least one replacement.
“It’s not easy at this time of the season to get players in, and over the past few weeks I simply cannot fault the players who have done a terrific job for the club.
“Their character and contribution has been immense, but against a good Newcastle Benfield side, it proved to be a step too far.
“We have just got on with things and picked up points, but how many games can you go without a recognised back four?
“We have done well to get the points we have, and although our keeper Karl Dryden pulled off save after save on Saturday, had we taken chances which fell our way, it could still have been different story.”
Middleton praised his opposite number at Benfield Steve Bowey, who has assembled a strong squad.
“They have a good team and we needed to go and play them with what I would call a proper team, but it was not to be,” he said.
“No outfit in this league would overcome what we have had to go through recently, and it speaks volumes for the likes of Lee Scott, James Taylor, Lance McGlen, Scott Blandford, Kyle Oliver and Kyle Downey, who have come in and turned in performances which we knew were not going to go on for ever.”