Ashington FC boss Steve Harmison applauded every member of his wafer thin squad and admitted to being a proud manager following their deserved 3-0 success at Penrith on Saturday.
Goals from Dylan Williamson, Anth Watson and Glen Taylor secured the three points over the Cumbrians.
“As Ashington manager I’m sitting here very, very proud,” said Harmison.
“A couple of people dropped out and to come here with 11 first team men then for James Loughborough to get injured in the warm-up, which takes us down to two subs and a sub keeper, I have to pay tribute to people who have not been in connection with today’s game, namely David Leightley, David Brown and Steve Jones from Ashington Colliers, because I cannot speak highly enough of the way they have helped.”
He continued: “This was a big win and Anth Watson who came on and scored the second and decisive goal didn’t know he was coming with us until 9.20am this morning.
“That should tell everyone how this transition has gone and I was so proud of how they have performed.
“I don’t like to single players out but the two central defenders [James Harmison and Wayne Buchanan] were fantastic again.
“They have not only done their jobs but given a solid rock and concrete base for some of the young lads to really develop and express themselves.
“There was a still picture of Andrew Johnson scoring recently, but coach Lee Anderson wasn’t bothered about the goal celebration, he was bothered about Tony Stephenson’s face on the picture because he was smiling as if he had scored himself.
“Today we have scored three and every one of the players celebrated as if they had scored the goal, and that tells me we are going in the right direction.
“We have travelled to Penrith, which is a tough place to go, they are strong physical boys whilst we are a bit lighter although speedy, but the one thing you have to do is to compete in games like this and we did that very well - and the quality will always shine through.
“Lewis Robson did not find out he was making his debut until 20 minutes before kick-off when James Loughborough was injured in the warm-up, and you then think ‘what more can go wrong today?’.
“The team are growing each time they play in a little bit of confidence and there is no better feeling than winning.
“Who would have said four to five weeks ago that we would come to Penrith and win 3-0?
“They self destructed, but we made them self destruct as they had two men sent off because we didn’t give them an inch.
“We were 2-0 up when the double dismissals came and then we got another goal.
“Did 3-0 reflect the game? Probably not.
“The pitch was bobbly and we wanted their defenders to make mistakes, and it was a hopeful ball into the box where Dylan [Williamson] has ghosted in with his pace and finished well to put us in front.
“They had been on top early doors whilst we started a little slow, but we proved that when we get a goal in front, confidence levels increase.
“Second half Penrith threw everything at us, but again I go back to my two in the middle [Harmison and Buchanan].
“The two big lads did their jobs well alongside Kyle Oliver and Ben Christensen and keeper Conor Grant, and I feel as if I have got a very strong and solid back five.
“We didn’t have a major option from the bench, but Anth [Watson] came on with fresh legs and all of a sudden he’s one-on-one with the keeper and he scores.
“Penrith self destruct and the game is over.
“I thought we played some very good football when they went down to nine men, which sounds easy, and Glen Taylor’s finishing for the last goal was great.”