NOW wearing the black and white stripes of Ashington CFC, ex-Newcastle United defender Darren Lough returns to one of his spiritual homes next week as the Colliers bid to reach the final of the Sage Northumberland Senior Cup for a third consecutive year.
Lough, 21, released by the Magpies last summer, will be one of a handful of players – James Taylor, Liam Atkin, Paul Dunn and Jonny Godsmark the others – who will come face to face with their former employees as Gary Middleton’s side travel to Whitley Park, Benton for a semi-final showdown against Newcastle United Reserves on Wednesday, April 20, which has a 7.30pm kick-off.
Lough, pictured, was skipper of the Magpies second string in the final two years ago as they brushed Ashington aside to record a 4-0 success.
Now the defender would be delighted to help Ashington to a third successive final.
“Newcastle is the type of game you want to take part in,” he said.
“You play all campaign to get into the semi-finals and you want to pit your wits against the best teams you can.
“Although you want to get to the final, I suppose you’ve got to play the big teams to get through, so playing Newcastle now is no different to playing them in the final.”
“I’ve played at Whitley Park a few times. It is quite a good pitch and a flat so it should be a cracking game.
“I’m looking forward to it – Newcastle keep the ball on the floor and we try and do the same.
“It’s a one-off game and we have got some good players who used to be at Newcastle and at other clubs and who know how to go about the game, so it’s pretty much 50-50.
“Fitness may kick in for the last ten to 15 minutes but we’ve got a chance.
“You look at their quarter-final clash with Bedlington Terriers, that was only 2-0 for the Reserves and the goals came in the last 15 minutes – so the game must have been pretty even.”
Lough said fitness is a major difference between the two levels.
“It’s not so much about the level of players but about the physicality,” he said.
“During the reserve games, you get more time on the ball because it’s a more gradual build up whilst in the Northern League it’s a lot more of players being in your face and a case of getting the ball forward quick.”