Harmison forced to play waiting game ahead of FA Cup tie

Ashington FC manager Steve Harmison.
Ashington FC manager Steve Harmison.

Ashington FC manager Steve Harmison will be forced to play a waiting game ahead of his side’s FA Cup tie against Nelson at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.

This season marks the 100th year of the Colliers competing in the prestigious competition, but after weeks of preparation with training and warm-up matches, Harmison’s plans have suffered a number of late setbacks which have clouded selection of his starting line-up for the extra preliminary round clash against the Lancashire-based outfit.

Goalkeeper Conor Grant is suspended following his red card against Marske United towards the end of last season and cricketing commitments rule out Ben Harmison.

However, defenders Wayne Buchanan and skipper Craig Scott face fitness tests after both limped off with injuries during Friday night’s 4-0 victory over Bedlington Terriers in the Wansbeck friendly.

But an upbeat Harmison said: “The hope of the management team was always to get the boys fit for the start of the season, and despite the frustrating news, we are hoping the players who take to the park on Saturday will peak.”

Meanwhile Adam Laidlaw and Reece Farrell have both signed for the club.

Harmison said: “We have been waiting for Adam to return from holiday and we have seen 60 minutes (against Bedlington) of what a talented player he is.

“He played a lot of games for Newcastle United under-21s last year and for him to put pen to paper is a massive bonus for us.

“I also thought Reece, from Newbiggin, did really well in what was a good performance against the Terriers. We moved the ball around well and the communication was good.” Goals in the first half from Damien Stevens, Ben Harmison and Scott Gunn put Ashington in command against the Terriers, for whom ex-Collier Marc Walton missed a penalty midway through the second period. Substitute Andrew Bulford added a fourth for the hosts shortly before full-time.