Players let club and fans down – manager

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ASHINGTON boss Gary Middleton laid the blame for his side’s exit from the FA Carlsberg Vase at Shortwood on Saturday firmly at the feet of his players.

A clearly subdued and disappointed Middleton said after the 3-0 reverse at Nailsworth on Saturday that his players had under-performed.

“The players have let everyone down – the management team, the club and moreso the supporters, who have travelled six hours and given up their whole Saturday to watch what was a well below par Ashington performance compared to what we have produced this season,” he said.

In an honest assessment, Middleton, pictured, admitted that his side had failed to press the start button.

“I didn’t think we got going at all today,” he said.

“We didn’t do the basics right from start to finish.

“We went out with a game plan but the players basically did not carry out what we had spoke about and to be fair we got what we deserved – which was nothing.

“The top and bottom of it is we just haven’t performed for two of the goals.

“They were free headers and if you can’t do the basics of competing in the penalty box then you are not going to win any game of football never mind a match in the last 16 of the FA Vase.

“I also thought the second goal was poor as well, discipline wise, to stop runners and overall, it was a very dour and flat performance.”

Ashington had been caught out twice in three minutes, with John Cant and Kevin Slack moving Shortwood into a two-goal lead in the opening stages – with the third by Tim Haddock arriving ten minutes into the second period:.

“The 20 minutes leading up to the interval we had looked quite good and potent without threatening their goalkeeper too much,” said Middleton.

“And although we came in 2-0 down at half-time, we knew if we got a goal we would probably go on and get a second one – but the third goal has just killed us.

“It was just a cross into the box and the lad has sneaked in, no one has picked him up and it has sealed the tie.

“But there’s nothing we can do about it now.

“It is disappointing that there was such a big reward at the end of the day but the players couldn’t perform as we had asked.

“However, we still have lots of points to play for in the STL Northern League and a top six position up for grabs and we need to move on.”

Middleton acknowledged his side’s progress this term but added that those facts served as no consolation.

“We have given our supporters something which they have not had for a lot of years this season with sustained runs in both the FA Cup and the FA Vase,” he said.

“But it doesn’t take away from the bitterness of losing at Shortwood that we were very close to a quarter-final which would have been at home.

“They were a better team than us on the day but we didn’t perform to the standard which we know we can.

“I haven’t got the answer as to why the lads didn’t perform, nor can I understand as to how it was such a lacklustre display, but it wasn’t from one or two of the players – it was everyone.”