Recovering Middleton delighted with Ashington win on his return to dugout

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BACK in the technical area as he continues to recover from viral meningitis, Ashington manager Gary Middleton thought his side played some good football during their 6-2 victory over Durham City at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.

Middleton said afterwards: “I thought it was pretty even throughout the first half but I was disappointed with how we’ve gone in front then conceded very quickly.

“That’s frustrating because we spoke about clean sheets before the game.

“Going in 3-1 at half-time, I thought we played some good football, but we knew it was going to be a different game in the second half with the wind.

“To be fair to the lads, I thought we dug in and did what we needed to do and again played some good football up the hill.

“We opened them up on numerous occasions and it could have been a few more, but credit to Durham because they kept coming at us and they played some good football themselves.”

Overall, the boss was delighted from several viewpoints.

“On the whole, after the season we have had with everything from injuries to illness to looking at different aspects, it’s been an up and down start with difficult games as in the FA Cup, so it was pleasing to get a good win,” he said.

“And the promising thing was six goals, which included another Marc Walton hat-trick and Andrew Johnson on the score sheet twice.”

Middleton was also pleased with the contributions from his substitutes, Chris Bell, Gareth Bainbridge and Alex Benjamin.

He added: “What was also nice was the substitutions. We’ve made three; Bell has looked good and we brought Alex and Gareth Bainbridge on, both who are capable of scoring goals. They gave us lots of threats in the last 20 minutes.”

Referring to the two new additions, Bell and Benjamin, Middleton said: “We all know what Alex brings to the party. He was second top goalscorer in the Northern League last season.

“He hasn’t played much football of late but we want to get him fit and in the 20 minutes he was on today, he showed he has a presence up there with his aerial threat and he knows where the goal is.

“Chris is going to be a great addition for us. He looked really lively when he came on, but again he hasn’t played a lot of minutes this season because he has been out with an injury so it’s a case of getting him fit.

“It was nice to make the substitutions when we did.

“Marc had got his hat-trick, Andrew had just scored his second and over the last month the lads have been giving everything when we haven’t had a lot of options through no fault of our own.

“We have been trying to bring people in but it is not an easy scenario at this stage of the season.

“However, we are pleased we have made tracks with a couple of signings and the squad looks healthy again, although I’d probably like to bring in another defender.

“Scoring six in another victory was a nice way too for my assistant Neil (Winskill) to bow out.”