ASHINGTON CFC manager Gary Middleton praised his players’ work ethic in their draw with FA Vase holders Dunston on Saturday.
And the Colliers boss felt the 1-1 scoreline was a fair result.
“I didn’t think there was a great deal in it first half, it was a typical workmanlike Dunston team and we knew we had to match that,” he said.
“They have been on a great run of late and we had to compete and match their work rate and that’s how the first half panned out really.”
The boss said he did have to stress to his squad the danger posed by the opposition from set plays.
“Dunston’s set piece deliveries were superb, which caused us a problem on all occasions,” he said.
“They were a threat and we said to the lads at half-time, we needed to stop giving away free kicks or conceding corners because they looked dangerous and could score from them at any point.”
Middleton applauded his side’s goal but knew once Gareth Bainbridge had given the Colliers the lead the Wansbeck outfit would face a barrage of pressure.
“The second half was much of the same as the first period and we said it was going to take a little bit of quality for either team to win the contest,” he added.
“It was a terrific run by Andrew Dugdale from midfield who got behind them, came back and although his cross has taken a bit of a deflection, Bainbridge has nipped in to apply a great finish.
“We knew they would throw everything at us – and after they have equalised, we had to be resolute yet again before we ourselves had a half chance to win it at the end.
“Overall, I thought the result was fair as the game was very evenly matched right the way through.”
Middleton highlighted his side’s effort and singled out a couple of players for special mention.
“It was a terrific work ethic by the lads on a difficult pitch and against a good team in good form,” he said.
“They showed some good character and there were some good workmanlike performances.
“I thought young Sam Hodgson, whom we’ve brought in from Blyth Spartans, looked composed on the ball and did well on his debut, whilst Jordan Mellish gave a good display in defence.
“We have put 17-year-old Marc Heaman on for 15 minutes who has done well and Glen Bolton came in from the reserve side – and all in all it was a really good point.”
However, on the downside, injuries continue to leave Middleton frustrated with top goal scorer Marc Walton forced to leave the field after only nine minutes whilst midfielder Andrew Dugdale hobbled off midway through the second period.
He said: “The injuries are a problem and we are wafer thin at the moment.
“Marc has hurt his calf, which is a concern, and we hope it is just a knock which Andrew Dugdale has picked up.”