Harmison sets unbeaten end to season target for Ashington

Ashington boss Steve Harmison has set his side a target of going unbeaten until the end of the season.

He put the challenge to the squad after their recent win at Shildon.

“Since Ian Skinner, Lee Anderson and myself came in, we haven’t conceded a goal at Woodhorn Lane, and that says a lot about the team and bodes well for us,” he said.

“We have now won four games in a row and we have got to keep the momentum going.

“The squad has been bolstered so we can select from over 20 players and make sure we finish the season well going forward towards the next campaign.

“We have beaten Shildon and Penrith on our travels with the right application, and if we keep doing it we will continue to win football matches.

“We are not conceding as many goals and in the last three weeks, Glen Taylor has scored a hat-trick and last Saturday, our two wide players [Dylan Williamson and Andrew Johnson] have got five between them, so that more than suggests we have got goals in this team.”

Ashington had racked up a 5-0 lead by half-time against the struggling Cumbrians, but Harmison was more happy with the second half.

He said: “Effectively it was over at half-time, but in our eyes the hardest part of the game was to come.

“It wasn’t a case of seeing it out, I wasn’t allowing them to do that because it was a case of making sure we approached the second half with the right mental application that we had done in the first half.

“If we didn’t do that, and had taken our foot off the pedal, then we would have gone into Tuesday night’s League Cup semi-final off the back of a negative 45 minutes, so I was more happy with the second half than I was with the first.

“You can look at the tough conditions – the wind coupled to the fact that Celtic Nation are going through an indifferent patch – but all we can do is to turn up and apart from doing the right things well, start the game positively and play the best way we can.

“On that score, I thought every single one of my players that started and finished the game did just that, and because of it we have won 6-0.”

Now mathematically safe from the drop, Harmison’s players have reached their first goal.

“The target form the minute we came in was to get safe,” he said.

“But the way we have played in recent weeks and the games other team have got left to play, I think the win at Shildon probably made us safe.”

Harmison rested his brother James on Saturday.

He added: “I thought it was the right thing to do to leave James and Tony Stephenson out of the game, because if we had lost James today then Tuesday night would then become a more difficult task for us because it looks as if Lance McGlen could be struggling to make it.

“James is important for us and we had to look at that situation.

“Because of what is coming up on Tuesday, I thought today was going to be the biggest test of my group mentally because of leaving people out and bringing a few people in, and I thought the three newcomers – Brad Brooking, Dylan Armstong and Paul Dunn – did really well.

“I was excited by young Armstrong. He just turned 18 on Tuesday and his link up play with the rest of the lads was excellent.

“I also thought his goal was a fantastic team goal against the wind finished off by a beautiful touch.

“However, we have again proved what pace does to teams; we frighten the opposition with it because we have got two wingers and I thought we played really well.”