Ashington boss Harmison praises his ‘colossal men’

Ashington FC's managament team of Lee Anderson, Ian Skinner and Steve Harmison. Picture by Steve Miller
Ashington FC's managament team of Lee Anderson, Ian Skinner and Steve Harmison. Picture by Steve Miller

Ashington manager Steve Harmison admitted after his side had progressed into the next round of the Techflow Group Northumberland Senior Cup on Tuesday night that secretly he had been hoping for the match to fall victim of the weather.

As the mist and fog descended on Woodhorn Lane, Blyth-based referee Martin Carr only gave the game the thumbs up 15 minutes before the scheduled 7.30pm kick-off.

And after the 5-3 win over Newcastle Benfield, Harmison said: “If I’m brutally honest, at 7.15pm I was hoping for the mist to come in and lead to a postponement as we didn’t need this game, although I didn’t let my thoughts filter down to the players.

“Inside I was thinking this could be the one break for us over the last few weeks because things haven’t gone well when it comes down to injuries and I’ve gambled on a few things.

“Signing Ben Harmison has been a masterstroke. I never feel any pressure but when things are not going well, to bring another brother in and play him in a different position to try and help us and give us something different was a massive gamble by the management team of Ian Skinner, Lee Anderson and myself.

“In Ben we brought someone in who hadn’t played in a Northern League first division match before, but to be fair he’s played two and a half games and scored four goals and doesn’t look out of place.

“Every single person in my team was struggling and I must give a special mention to Lewis Robson. He is playing for the college side and unfortunately we had to throw him in at the 11th hour.

“I didn’t really want to put him in because he had a big game for the college on Wednesday, but I thought he ran his heart out tonight and was excellent along with the rest of the team.”

Harmison’s problems were exacerbated before kick-off.

He said: “Where do I start? Can this injury plagued situation we have here get any worse?

“Dylan Williamson came off in the warm-up and that took our count up to 12 players who were not available, and although Paul Dunn didn’t even bring his boots as he was injured, I had to include him as one of the substitutes.”

Harmison added: “I thought my senior men tonight were exceptional. The two centre halves (James Harmison and Matty Greive) were fantastic again, as they have been all season.

They were colossal.

“Andrew Johnson looked a threat every time he went forward and consequently I thought we always looked likely to score.

“That said, because we had three wingers, a central midfielder and two centre forwards on the field we were always going to be vulnerable at the other end so our policy was to attack at every opportunity.

“I thought we showed some good quality as well as good determination, and our will to win got us over the line.

“I thought we had some fantastic finishes for our goals and the Benfield keeper Mark Cook has pulled off a couple of good saves, but then they had some chances as well and if it had finished 7-7 I don’t think anyone would have complained.”

He concluded: “We deserve a break, we got one on Saturday and we got one again tonight.

“Hopefully we will get players back for Saturday when we take on Shildon, who in my eyes are the best team in the league, and we will now go into the contest boosted with back to back wins.”