Ashington FC manager Steve Harmison enthused about the work rate from his players after the Colliers had registered their fourth win in five matches with a 3-1 victory over Sunderland RCA at Woodhorn Lane on Thursday.
The home side led 3-0 at the interval courtesy of goals from Kyle Downey and a double from Damien Stevens before Stephen Callen reduced the deficit for the visitors after the break.
Harmison said: “It was a great win. In the first period we were excellent going up the hill and the team talk at half-time was simple and probably the easiest I’ve had to deliver since I came in as manager.
“I praised the work rate from the players because they put pressure on RCA to make mistakes, and when they did that we capitalised and showed our quality in finishing.
“We have been patchy this season to say the least, and the crazy thing is we are now sitting ninth in the table.
“Earlier in the season we lost eight matches in a row, and if we had picked up even a point a game during that run in league matches, we would now be in the top three or four, even though teams have got games in hand on us.”
He continued: “Our season has been inconsistent but we are on a very good run, which we need to keep going between now and the end of the season.
“The one thing I enjoyed seeing from the squad tonight, which was so apparent was how they worked hard for each other and more so when we lost the ball.
“They then worked very, very hard to help each other get in a position to either get the ball back or make us very solid.
“We looked a threat going forward because we didn’t give Sunderland RCA a chance to get control of the ball, or allow them to get their heads up ,and all of a sudden we were 2-0 up and looking comfortable with Andrew Johnson and Stevens running amok as RCA defensively couldn’t handle Ben Harmison.
“They had a little bit of a spell where our keeper Conor Grant has pulled off a couple of good saves, but we got our just rewards again which stemmed from hard labours.”
He added: “We defended very well from the front which was good and went into the break 3-0 ahead, which I thought was fair for the graft we had put in.
“From the start of the second half RCA came into the game, which you would expect, and it took the goal and the sending off [of Ben Harmison] to rally us up and get us going again.
“Before Ben’s dismissal I thought he and Stevens were excellent. Johnson and Adam Harvey in the wide areas were good; the two in midfield [Downey and Michael Dixon] were superb and the back four, James Taylor, James Harmison, Matty Grieve and Paul Dunn, were as usual because there are some experienced heads in there and they were solid.
“Conor made some good saves, Andrew Bulford worked hard when he came on and the other sub Scott Gunn showed some great touches and running with the ball, so collectively as a 13, I thought we were really good.”
He went on: “For me after the sending off, it suited us because RCA stopped trying to get down the sides behind our two full backs and they pushed Wayne Buchanan up to centre forward and tried to smash the ball straight down the middle.
“James and Matty lapped it up and the two of them coped exceptionally well alongside Dunn and Taylor.
“We were good in parts but lackadaisical and inconsistent on other occasions.
“However, there is loads of talent in our dressing room and if you work hard you get your rewards; if you stop doing that you give teams a chance to be in the game.
“I don’t think we gave them a chance to be in the game during the first 25 minutes, and that’s why we were 2-0 up.
“We have had a lot of bad things said about us over the past few weeks and I think the players have done exceptionally well to do there talking on the pitch, and that for me is the pleasing thing.”