Ashington FC manager Steve Harmison conceded that goals in quick succession by North Shields had put a massive dent in his side’s chances of upsetting the league leaders on Wednesday night.
Victory for the high-flying Robins opened up an eight points lead at the top and Harmison said afterwards: “We knew it was going to be difficult - but the two goals in three minutes hurt us.
“North Shields are a well drilled side and who for the past three or four seasons have been there or thereabouts at the top end of the league.
“They started really brightly and played some good football. We rode our luck a little bit but weathered the storm for the first 15 minutes then all of a sudden they went ‘bang, bang’ with the two goals and that’s what North Shields do.
“Sometimes when you are in the ascendancy and are going forward that’s when you are vulnerable against them and that’s what it proved to be.”
He continued: “After 20 minutes we got a bit of a foothold in the game. We got through them on a couple of occasions but without really threatening.
“At half time we tried to put things right but within 30 seconds of the start of the second period it was ‘game over’ after they got a third.
“All of a sudden that goal seemed to free us up and for the remaining 40 minutes we were on the front foot.
“We had lot of possession whilst Shields were looking to stifle the space but tonight we have played against a very good side who have taken their chances.
“We battled; worked hard and fought hard but when you come up against a good side you have got to be on your game for the full 90 minutes.
“We were sloppy for a five minutes period in the first half and were punished and then when we didn’t come back out of the changing rooms at half time, conceded again. After that we huffed and puffed but the game had gone.”
He went on: “Part of the preparation was our problem tonight because at 5pm we had a team then all of a sudden we were three or four bodies down and you have got to come to North Shields at full strength. Kyle Downey reported at 6.30pm not knowing whether he was fit or not.
“He failed a test and that was plan ‘A’ out of the window. He scored a hat-trick in the 3-2 win over Chester le Street on Saturday - then reports not fit which meant we had to regroup.”