Ups and downs for boss

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ASHINGTON CFC manager Gary Middleton described his side’s season as “indifferent”.

The boss was reflecting on a Northern League campaign which had seen the club finish in eighth place.

Middleton said: “As far as I’m concerned, it’s been an indifferent season.

“We have taken the club through to the furthest round for a long time in the FA Cup and the players also made history by reaching the fourth round of the FA Carlsberg Vase, which were two good achievements.

“But on the other side of the coin, it was disappointing to go out of the Sage Northumberland Senior Cup to Newcastle United Reserves at the semi-final stage.”

The boss, who has just completed his second campaign in charge, was nevertheless quite happy, but his end of season report included a “could have done better” verdict.

“I think we have done well to achieve eighth place in the first division of the STL Northern League in the end,” he added.

“Although we finished in sixth place last term, there is not a lot of difference in the points ratio and for that I believe the league has become stronger.

“I look at the teams who have finished above us and yes, we want to be up there and that’s what we have got to strive for.

“But over the last few months of the season we beat Whitley Bay, Newcastle Benfield, Shildon, Norton and completed a double over South Shields – all teams either above us or around us.

“I know we can topple the top teams and there is a two edged message – the first is that we could have done better and the second for next year is to be more consistent.

“We have got to go in against the so called lesser sides and win the game – something which we did not overly do this last campaign.

“We have got some real quality footballers at the club and if we had performed week in week out then we could have finished in the top six.”

Middleton believes that his squad can only improve.

“We have a young side and to be fair it’s probably the youthfulness which has cost us from doing even better,” he said.

“However, hopefully they will be all the stronger for it.

“The likes of Darren Lough, James Taylor, Jonny Godsmark, Andrew Johnson, Liam Atkin and goalkeeper Karl Dryden are all young lads, and three quarters of the team are under the age of 25.”

Lough, Dryden and Johnson were singled out for special mention.

“The performances of Lough and Dryden over the season have been a real bonus, and Johnson’s contribution with 20 goals from midfield is a great effort,” he said.

And the boss was certainly appreciative of everyone at Woodhorn Lane, adding: “I would like to thank chairman Ian Lavery, the executive board and also the supporters, all of whom have given us tremendous backing over the campaign.

“Now I’m having a rest to recharge my batteries.

“It has been a long season and I want time off so that I come back refreshed for the pre-season.”