Harmison’s Ashington face ‘tough start’ to new season

Ashington FC boss Steve Harmison feels his outfit face a tough start to the forthcoming campaign which gets under way in August.

The fixture list, released at the Ebac Northern League AGM on Saturday, sees his side travel to face newly promoted Washington on the opening day with a home clash against Penrith at Woodhorn Lane three days later.

The Mechanics came up from division two as runners-up.

Harmison said: “It’ll be a tough start for us. It’s an old cliché that you have got to play everybody twice, and if you want to do good things then you have got to be competitive against opposition twice.

“Probably the toughest two games anybody could have had is to have been pitched against Washington or Seaham Red Star because they have come up with a bit of gusto.

“Just look at North Shields who were promoted the season before.”

But the manager is adamant the Colliers will be ready for the challenge.

He said: “After our managerial appointment in February and in the 15 games under our jurisdiction, we took things in our stride which included four away matches in the league on the bounce and we planned accordingly to combat that.

“We have a good run of games at the start in what will be a very intense first two months of the campaign and I think that is why we are going to have to be on our mettle come pre-season.

“We want to make sure we are in a position to have our best players and competitive side available for those 12 to 15 games, because even though they will not ‘make or break’ the season, they will nevertheless determine where we will finish.

“If we do well in the start, it will be a platform and a concrete base for us to move forward.”

“We will relish going to Washington, it will be great, but we will be under no illusions and will travel in the knowledge that because they have come from the second division, they will be a very good side.

“However, we will be prepared for every team which we will come up against this season knowing everything about the opposition.

“We are also in the lap of other aspects such as a bit of luck and good play, because all of that comes into it.

“But we will definitely be ready for when the season starts.

“We were in a relegation fight last season and we had to build to make us better, and we have had two months to try and do so.

“The signs are showing that we are heading in the right direction to make sure that Ashington are really strong for this coming campaign.”

In the second round of the League Cup, Ashington have been drawn at home to Heaton Stannington.

Their pre-season friendly against Preston North End, scheduled for Tuesday, July 28, has been put back 24 hours and will now take place at Woodhorn Lane on Wednesday, July 29.

The club have also announced that the Les Alderson Memorial Cup is to be staged on Sunday, August 30.