Ashington boss Harmison critical of side’s second half performance

Ashington manager Steve Harmison in the dugout Picture by Ian Appleby -
Ashington manager Steve Harmison in the dugout Picture by Ian Appleby -

Ashington FC manager Steve Harmison slammed his players in the wake of Saturday’s 2-1 defeat against West Auckland.

The boss highlighted a second half performance which was ‘not acceptable’ and ‘not good enough’.

Ben Harmison had deservedly nudged his side in front shortly before the interval after the Colliers had dominated the entire half.

But it was a different story after the break and a brace from striker Adam Burnicle sent the Wansbeck outfit to a fifth successive defeat.

“It was a poor standard of two halves from both sides,” said Harmison.

“I thought West Auckland couldn’t get any worse and we made them poor by the way we played – and we performed well – but as poor as they were in the first half, we were arguably worse in the second half, and that for me is something I cannot take any more.

“It’s coming to a point now where we eradicate one mistake and hurt ourselves in another way.

“We stayed in the game and got a foothold in it, but second half I don’t think we knew how to kill the game off and I think that’s where we are at this moment in time as a team.

“We are so low in confidence, and second half we passed responsibility onto someone else and we didn’t get anywhere near as close as we were in the first half.

“We showed that with this side there was something to build on, but second half we didn’t even look like taking responsibility, and that worries me.

“I need characters to stand up and everything I am saying is about the team, not one individual, which is led by me all the way down to the support staff, the 16 players and to those who don’t make the squad.

“It’s a whole club issue and for me that second half was not acceptable.

“Did I see it happening. I actually didn’t at half-time because I thought we were maybe turning a bit of a corner.

“I was thinking to myself, ‘West Auckland are going to come into the game because no team has 90 minutes spells’.

“When they came back it was a role reverse completely, and people can say we deserved something out of the game, but the stark reality is they have put the ball in the net twice, us once and the result has got to hurt the players and mean something.

“I’m sure it does but this cannot carry on because we have got some tough games coming up and that as a collective unit is not good enough – it’s a simple as that.

“It was a pitch where running with the ball wasn’t an option because it was getting stuck underfoot.

“It was also one where you put pressure on the opposition by getting them to make mistakes by putting balls into areas.

“We did that first half but didn’t get close to doing it after the break.

“We resorted to getting rid of the ball without responsibility, and that second half was nowhere need good enough.

“I’ve made excuses in the past with numbers in our squad and injuries, but barring one or two, that was an Ashington team who shouldn’t come here [West Auckland] and lose.

“For 45 minutes that opinion was right because not only did we work hard, we harried and pressed and made it very hard for them first half.

“Full credit to West Auckland. They have picked up in recent times and gone on a good run.

“Their manager Andy [Campbell] has got them good in spirit and from the start of the season he had, he’s done a fantastic job and looks as if he is going to get them out of trouble.

“Fair play to him. He’s rattled the team at half-time today to make them do something and we didn’t have the answers.”