GARY Middleton labelled his side’s performance as “not good enough” after they went out of the FA Carlsberg Vase with a 3-2 defeat at the hands of history making Bodmin Town on Saturday.
The leaders of the South West Peninsula League premier division reached the fifth round for the first time in their history and will now face the winners of the Gornal Athletic vs Wisbech Town clash with home advantage on February 9 in the last 16 of the competition.
However, Ashington manager Middleton was left to reflect on another missed opportunity.
“Obviously the players have underperformed again in a game where we get to the business end of the tournament,” he said.
“This is the second time in two seasons when we have needed big performances from big players but we were short.
“Take nothing away from Bodmin, who were the better team on the day, but from start to finish we never got going or played like we know we can.
“We are a good footballing team with a lot of flair and show creativity going forward – but we saw none of it today, and although conditions were difficult, Bodmin opened us up.”
Last season Ashington lost a fifth round tie at Shortwood United in similar circumstances.
And Middleton was lost for words immediately after the final whistle of their latest setback.
“I never spoke for 45 minutes,” he said.
“I was speechless in the dressing room and gob-smacked that it could happen again.
“The preparation was first class and the lads knew what was expected of them and what they had to do, but they haven’t delivered in 90 minutes and you have got to do that in football.
“We knew they were going to throw everything at us going down the hill, and that’s what they did.
“We went a goal down and struggled to get out of our half ,but we hung in there and at half-time we knew we couldn’t get any worse.
“Conditions were difficult but we got the equaliser and there was only one team on.
“However, you cannot afford to make mistakes at this stage and an error has cost us for the second goal.
“We were chasing the game again and got hit with a killer punch on the counter attack for the third goal.”
Middleton had no complaints over the final outcome.
He added: “We knew it would be a tough, tough game against a team flying high and that it wasn’t going to be a foregone conclusion,.
“Bodmin are the best team in the south west and the scoreline sounds closer than it was because we were beaten comfortably.
“We have had an opportunity to progress which has slipped away because the players didn’t perform.
“If they had turned in eight and nine out of ten performances then we would have won the game, but no one reached a seven.
“At tops we got into third gear, which is not good enough for last 32 of the Vase, but we cannot turn the clock back and have to move on.”
Middleton apologised to the travelling army of supporters who made the long trek to the south west.
“From everyone, can I apologise to our supporters,” he said.
“They were fantastic and to travel all that way, we would like to thank them for that.”