Ashington manager Steve Harmison could not hide his disappointment after watching his side turn in a sterling performance only to be on the wrong end of a 2-0 defeat against title chasing Guisborough on Saturday.
Harmison said: “I’m disappointed because we got beat. It’s irrelevant whether people say we were hard done by or whether the score line flattered Guisborough, because the reality is that we lost the game.
“I thought it was a good match played in tough conditions and Guisborough showed their class and why they are second in the league, because they got themselves into a position to win the game and when the chance arose they took it.
“I thought we were excellent and the lads showed what we wanted – effort, endeavour and desire.
“We missed chances, didn’t get the rub of the green and had a couple cleared off the line, one by one of our own players.”
However, Harmison said there was a decision quarter of an hour into the second period which left him unhappy.
Michael Dixon, as well as home midfielder Gary Wood, had both been yellow carded in the first period. Wood transgressed again after the break but received a final warning from the match referee.
“We should have been playing against ten men for 30-plus minutes of that second half,” he said.
“The referee asked for the two captains to go into his room at half-time and said one more issue with our player Michael Dixon or Wood and they would have to go (be sent off).
“Wood made two tackles, not bad by any stretch of the imagination, which were penalised and the referee spoke to him twice, and after he finished talking to him on the latter occasion, Guisborough substituted him.
“We were well in the game at half-time and up until the 80th minute – but a team with 11 men tends to win the game when playing against ten.
“If the referee had come off at half-time and said nothing, he wouldn’t have had any complaints from me because it would have been his judgement.
“I have spoken to Michael, who said he was running around for ten minutes on eggshells thinking he couldn’t tackle yet Wood has two tackles which has seen him taken off, and that for me was wrong.
“As much as Guisborough played some lovely football, playing with ten men would have been a big ask and I would have fancied my team’s chances.
“There were a lot of plus signs from us. I thought Scott Gunn had a good debut on the right hand side, the front two [Andrew Bulford and Ben Harmison] worked their socks off, we rode our luck and did well – as did Guisborough.
“At 0-0 after 80 minutes, both teams were having a go and also an element of good fortune, but I thought they had the biggest bit of luck throughout the game when they kept 11 men on the field.”