ASHINGTON CFC manager Gary Middleton has challenged his outfit to take their run of good form into Saturday’s FA Carlsberg Vase away tie against Newport Pagnell.
The Colliers boss knows his side face a difficult game after receiving several reports on their opponents.
But he remains confident in his own side’s ability to bring a positive result back to Wansbeck.
Speaking ahead of the clash at Willen Road, Middleton, pictured, said: “Make no mistake about it, this will be a really tough encounter.
“We have not seen Newport Pagnell ourselves but I have received four reports on them from four different managers whose dossiers are all very similar – and by all accounts they are a side who can beat anyone.”
However, Middleton, whose own team have racked up three wins and a draw from their last four matches, will use the lever that he is in charge of an outfit who can do exactly the same.
“We are going down there in a good run of form and I’m confident that if we can perform on the day and just like we have done in massive games already this season, we are capable of coming away with a result,” he said.
“It is the last 32 of the of the competition and presents a real challenge for us – and we will have to be at the top of our game that’s for sure.
“We went out at the same stage last year to Long Buckby, who are in the same league as Newport Pagnell, and I’m confident – although I would be happy to bring them back to Woodhorn Lane if we cannot win the game first time round.”
The Colliers boss expressed mixed feelings when being told that last Saturday’s STL Northern League first division game against champions Spennymoor Town was called off due to a frozen pitch.
“At first I was a bit disappointed,” he said, “but in hindsight it may not have been a bad thing.
“The players who are eligible to play at Newport Pagnell would have been going into the game with this week on their minds and my team selection would have been different as well.
“On top of that we would have been facing a team gunning to try and win the league championship for a third season in a row and who would have still been smarting after we knocked them out – and deservedly so – of the Vase, so we may have picked us some injuries.”
Midfielder Andrew Dugdale, who missed the Colliers’ last game against Tow Law with a groin strain, will be fit but striker Jonny Godsmark faces a fitness test on a hamstring injury.
Others to miss out are long term injuries Darren Lough and Stephen Young whilst recent newcomers Tommy English and Marc Walton are cup-tied and Dan Taylor is ineligible.
Meanwhile Middleton will speak with Newcastle United next week about striker Taylor.
The on-loan forward, who scored twice on his debut in the 4-2 derby win at Bedlington on Boxing Day, has missed out through a hamstring injury since – although he would have played at Spennymoor on Saturday had the game gone ahead.
“Dan trained last Thursday with us and would have been in the team on Saturday,” said Middleton.
“We’ll be assessing the situation after next week.”
If the scores are locked in a stalemate after extra time at Newport Pagnell on Saturday and a replay is required, it will take place at Ashington’s Woodhorn Lane ground on Saturday week (January 28) with a 3pm kick-off.